New Delhi: Sufiya Khan, till a few years ago a regular Indian working girl, has run to fame. She has beaten the inertia generated by the long lockdown imposed after the onset of the Covid pandemic and has earned coveted records in her name. She is the first Indian woman to run from Srinagar to Kanyakumari despite huge odds.
She is a two-time Guinness Record Holder. The first time she registered her name in Guinness Book Of World Records was in 2018 when she became the fastest female to run along “The Indian Golden Quadrilateral Road”.
She ran the Golden Triangle, Delhi-Jaipur-Agra-Delhi, spread over 720 kms in 16 days. The year after, she upped the target to cover Srinagar to Kanyakumari, a distance of 4,000 kms, and achieved it in 87 days, 2 hours and 17 minutes. It was the fastest time by a female runner in the “Kashmir to Kanyakumari” category, according to Guinness World Records.
Her mission was part of the Mission Hope (H=Hope, O=Oneness, P=Peace and E=Equity). She told a news website that during her journey, she was supported by all Indians, irrespective of caste and creed.
She has now become the first female runner in the world to complete the run from Manali to Leh. Sufiya started her ultramarathon “Himalayan Ultra Run Expedition” on September 25, 2021, at 7.34 a.m. She concluded her run on October 1, 2021, covering a distance of 480 km in 156 hours, amid the difficult terrains and ruthless climatic conditions, reaching up to 5328 m altitude and gaining 8200 m elevation throughout the expedition. The temperature dipped between 0 to minus 5 degrees and oxygen plummeted by 60 per cent on mountain passes.
While growing up in Ajmer, Rajasthan, Sufiya had never been a running enthusiast or into sports. Following her graduation, Sufiya pursued a diploma in aviation and took up her first job as ground staff at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. She had spent ten years as a ground handler at the Delhi airport. In 2018, she decided to leave her work in order to pursue her passion for running.
It was only four years ago that Sufiya took up running. The graveyard shift in the aviation industry had unsettled her and she felt an urgent need to reclaim her life.
After her Himalayan achievements, she has emerged as an inspiration for Indian women not only as a runner, but also as a fitness adviser.
Talking about the benefits of running, she told SheThePeople in an interview, “Running makes you positive towards life. It not only helps you be healthier but keeps you strong. Gives you confidence. Makes you a good decision maker, makes you more accountable in everyday situations.”
She also emphasises on the importance of running for a woman. “Why should we always encourage women for a run? Because, apart from fitness and fighting depression, she can avoid addictions to harmful substances and it will also keep them safe from many lifestyle diseases like blood pressure, diabetes etc,” she said.