Milind Soman returns to Kolkata for Pinkathon, before running for second Ironman title
MILIND Soman made every one — women and men — go down on their knees, and they were more than willing to oblige the 53-yearold ultraman. Ten pushups for women and 20 for men, for a selfie that would make anyone twinge with envy. From ages 16-50, they all agreed to the demand under the spell of his infectious energy and charisma at the launch of the third edition of Pinkathon, the largest ‘women only’ marathon in the country that will be held on March 31. The supermodel, who calls himself an event manager and is known for many feats in athletics, spoke to Indulge about his new goals in 2019, why wife Ankita is never insecure about him, and why his Everest dream will come true.
The Pink Ambassador
‘Wife?’ called out The Ironman of India, twice, as soon as we sat with him for a quick chat. Spotting Ankita at a distance, he exchanged smiles before surrendering to our questions. Soman, who has been running marathons for the last 16 years, launched Pinkathon seven years back in Mumbai — not expecting it to become such a phenomenon. “We never imagined that Pinkathon will become so popular. When we went from one city to another, and the initial response invariably was — women will not run, they don’t have time, they are so busy managing family or both office and family. But instead, the event got bigger in every city. In fact now, in Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai, we have a cap of 11 thousand participants. Last year, in the 10km category, 300 women participated in Bangalore and Mumbai,” notes the Made in India man, sporting a Pinkathon Rajdoot black T-shirt. And, what about Kolkata, we ask? “Like all big cities, Kolkata is fairly cosmopolitan. The participation, as we have noticed, is more from the non-Bengali women than Bengali women. Kolkata is catching up. We started with 3,000 women and we expect 4-5,000 participants this time. This is the platform to start participating in a marathon, as no one will judge you or laugh at you, and instead encourage you,” says Soman, emphasising that Pinkathon is an inclusive event, and targets all sections of women. In fact, it urges participation from ‘baby-wearing’ women, cancer survivors, hearing or visual impaired women, acid attack survivors and women from under-privileged section. He points out at Spirit of Pinkathon, a city-to-city run that created headlines last year. “The last Spirit of Pinkathon in Bengaluru had four blind women running from the city to Mysore. That’s 140 kms! In Pinkathon, last year a 70-year-old women participated. Spirits like them inspire others,” says Soman, adding that his 80-year-old mother also participates in the 5 or 10km category.
Proud, not jealous
Witnessing the love birds’ chemistry, we couldn’t help but ask if Ankita ever gets insecure about him, as he is so often surrounded by hundreds of women? The hazel-eyed hunk rolled the ball into Ankita’s court and insisted that we ask her instead. “That’s nice, don’t you think? It means that women feel comfortable around him, and I am proud about it,” quips a chirpy Ankita, while flirting with his salt - and - pepper hair. He continues, “We don’t really give each other a chance to get insecure. She is not interested in another man, and I am not interested in another woman — and we both know that.”
Awaiting a good script
Soman was last seen in a web series, playing the role of Dr Warsi in Four More Shots Please! Where else can we see him in action in 2019? “There’s nothing as of now, though I am reading some scripts. I do Bollywood projects once in a while. I did Four More Shots Please! last year. I don’t really think much about it, because I have other stuff on my mind. I am basically an event manager, and for the last 35 years, I have been engaged in event management. Also, I have a television production company, and a company that makes energy bars. So, I’m pretty pre-occupied,” says Soman, who earlier expressed his interest in seeing a biopic of Shivnath Singh, the long distance runner. Soman explains, “I cannot make a film on him and neither can I play him. I don’t fit his character. But it would be great if someone can make a film on him.”
Setting new targets
Soman made headlines for completing the Ironman Triathlon in 15 hours and 19 minutes at the age of 50, and he’s looking forward to win the title for the second time. “This year, I will take some more challenges. There will certainly be more running, swimming and cycling — and I might double Ironman.” What about the Everest quest, we enquired. “Of course, that goal is still there, and since the oldest person to climb Mount Everest is in his 70s, I think I still have time,” chuckles the man with an unending pack of abs.
Advocating good health
Soman recently took to barefoot running, and his Instagram profile is replete with pictures of him enjoying the exercise. Is he promoting the same among the thousands of women who follow him — to run barefoot, an exercise that has been at the centre of debate for long? He quickly explains, “I don’t promote it. I am just saying I like it, and if you like running you can try it too, with much awareness about the form — and do it carefully. I believe it is an experience.” He also takes the opportunity to point out that Pinkathon is a celebration, and it promotes the habit of exercise among women, while not talking about the shape of the body. “Exercise is good for heath. We don’t talk about shape. We talk about health, and not about the shape of the body. You need to be aware whether you are a healthy fat person or a non-healthy fat person. You can be a thin unhealthy person as well. So you need to be aware about your body’s health,” signs off Soman, before egging us for 10 pushups!