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An Evening of Fitness and Fitting Tributes—Soldierathon 2020

The cadets of 4 Kar Engr Coy, National Cadet Corps, in collaboration with Manipal Runners’ Clubs, organised Soldierathon 2020, a run and a display held as a tribute to our soldiers on the occasion of Army Day. India celebrates Army Day in recognition of Field Marshal KM Cariappa’s taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from the British on January 15th, 1949. The organisers of the event took this opportunity to celebrate the undying spirit of soldiers all over the country.

The chief guest for the event, Colonel K Thammayya Udupa was the perfect example of a role model for both, the cadets and the running enthusiasts. He is an experienced soldier and has been instrumental in multiple counter-insurgency operations in the North East. He is well-versed with technical know-how, having graduated as an engineer from REC, Surathkal, and is also a passionate long-distance runner.

The speech delivered by the colonel started with a firm and resounding “Jai Hind”, which the cadets echoed with equal passion. “Long-distance running involves a lot of pain and sacrifice, it isn’t easy, but the main point is to keep working, never give up and fight your demons until you reach the finish line”, said Colonel Udupa, while trying to motivate the participants.

Soon after the speech, the audience of the event were treated to a flash mob and street play performed by the Dramebaaz Company. The crowd enjoyed the well-choreographed moves as the performers danced to patriotic music as well as old-school Bollywood songs. The skit was a powerful piece of drama about the taboo revolving around organ donation in modern Indian society, which is also the theme of this year’s edition of the Manipal Marathon. The play ended with a very effective monologue, “Our soldiers give up their lives fighting for us, but we’re selfish, we can’t donate things that are of no use to us anymore to help our fellow countrymen”. Their performance received a round of applause from the onlookers.

The War Zone set up at KMC Greens.

The production was followed by a dynamic display by the NCC cadets. They simulated a war scenario, showing the audience the planning and execution of ambushes on enemy troops. The presentation was striking and informative. They displayed various formations for different conditions, including low visibility. The cadets also replicated the movements along wedge lines and walls to perfection. The precision and complexity involved in completing even a single operation were remarkable. The realistic combat sound effects and camouflage combat-wear worn by the cadets made the performance effective.

We practised these formations by ourselves for around two weeks. This is only a humble attempt to simulate what actually happens out there in the war. Our soldiers face multiple hazards like rough terrain, freezing temperatures and low visibility, yet, they pull these combat strategies off to perfection. It was a great experience”, said Tanya Singh, an NCC Cadet.

Participants warm up before heading into the Promo Run. (Credits: The Photography Club)

The display was followed by the promotional run for the Manipal Marathon 2020, organised by the Manipal Runners Club, and was flagged off by Colonel Thammayya Udupa. It was an excellent evening for a 5-kilometre run and saw a massive footfall of students. They enjoyed the short, yet challenging run which took the runners around the EDU building and to other spots in Manipal. Refreshments and a prize distribution ceremony followed the run and helped sign off an enjoyable evening for the participants and cadets alike.