O.Saranchuluun: I do not race against someone, I race against myself

GoGo.mn

2017-09-04 15:34 GMT+8

An annual “Hope, Faith, Possibility” charity marathon organized by Achilles Mongolia NGO and Arig bank will take place on Sep 9 at National Amusement Park. The marathon is open to everyone and it aims to create opportunities for disabled people to pursue sports and increase their confidence with sports. All donations and incomes raised through this event are spent on financing activities. 

We deliver you the interview with O.Saranchuluun, head of Achilles Mongolia NGO. 

-Thank you for your time. You might be busy these days working on the organization of the upcoming marathon?
-Yes, indeed. The scope of our marathon is expanding each year. This year we have printed 5000 numbers for the participants. Running distances are divided into 3 km, 5 km, 10 km, 21 km and 42 km. Also, there will be a special race dedicated for athletes on a wheelchair. People might be confused the reason why we separate wheelchair race. Because the wheelchairs used by Mongolian athletes are not suited for racing. Thus, if they break their wheel chairs, it will feel like they have no legs. Moreover, the marathon has 8 age categories and we planned to award 200 runners. 

I would like to invite everyone to the marathon, even if those who are not participating. Because we have planned many interesting activities for visitors and audience such as free medical advice. Moreover, people are able to enjoy watching the children, youths, and elders who are finishing the marathon by winning themselves. 

-I visited last year`s “Hope, Faith, Possibility” charity marathon. I remember that day was spent with full of energy, love, and great feelings.
-I would like to share one story with you. I used to run at a National amusement park when I had a prosthetic leg. At that time, I opened a group on Facebook that named "Let`s run together". Then I posted on that group: "Is there anyone who would like to run with me in the morning? Come and run with me". All people who saw the post asked me that "Can we run with you?".

In other words, at that time, an invisible wall was rising between ordinary people and people with disabilities. After I organizing the marathon since 2015, attitudes of citizens have slightly changed. Of course, this can not be measured directly. However, we can see it from the number of people with disabilities who are participating in the marathon. In 2016, a total of 96 people with disabilities run the marathon. In addition, the number of volunteers and audience is increasing year by year. For me, the marathon is helping to eliminate the invisible wall risen between ordinary people and people with disabilities and that really helps me to feel energized. 

-When did you start running? 
-It is a long story. I enrolled teacher's scholarship program at Columbia University in the city of New York for a year. At that time, my prosthetic leg did not allow me to do enough exercises. Then I found a company that provides artificial limbs to people who are keen on sports and applied. After having my new artificial limbs, I went to the New York city`s central park to run. At there, I met people who have the same problem with me including Dik Traum, the founder of the Achilles Track Club for disabled athletes. Dik Traum proposed to cooperate on reviving the existing Achilles branch in Mongolia. I told him that I want to participate in New York City Marathon before considering the proposal. I run for 8 hours at New York City Marathon in Dec 2014. I was so close to crying when I earn my finisher medal. I uploaded the image of my finisher medal to my Facebook profile. But people thought that I had won the marathon. Even newspapers were writing about that. Mongolians have no idea of finisher medal at that time. Since then I became interested in running. 

-Thank you. Good luck. 

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