Following three years of dedication, diligence and determination Sajjad Tejani managed to
run his 100th park run on Saturday 20th July. After being enthused by Dr Mahmood Mawjee in October 2016, Sajjad managed to put on his running shoes and partake in his first run. It was by his own admission arduous and gruelling. Waking up at 6:30 in the morning in -3 degree temperatures was incredibly demanding. Yet the constant encouragement from Dr Mahmood ensured that he developed his consistency after which, running routinely became easier.
Initially even running half a kilometre was a struggle for the former cricketer. This coupled with seeing people overtake you who were older or in worse shape than you was difficult, but it gave a sense of aspiration to Sajjad to better his fitness.
One hundred runs later, last Saturday saw an atmosphere of celebration as the 50 runners who are part of the running group “Park run no Masti” congregated and celebrated with a classic Khoja breakfast which included Mandazee and Chai. Sajjad acclaimed that the group was paramount for him completing this mammoth achievement. “It is the group which keeps me going.” He also claimed that the communal spirit of seeing others achieve different milestones, whether it be getting in shape or reaching a specific number of runs spurred the group on. It filled everyone with a sense of happiness yet it also fuelled their hunger to further actualise their milestones.
Lead by Shama Meghjee-Caine, the group run 5 kilometres every Saturday. The 50 or so
members of the group are incredibly diverse both in ability and in age, ranging from eight to 70. Some people even come to brisk walk the 5k in order to keep fit. Sajjad said that when he started, he could not complete the 5k in one run and had to mix in running and walking spells. By his 10th run, however, he managed to complete his first non-stop run and ever since then he has never looked back. After this, his aim was to complete 5k in under 30 minutes. His aim was achieved in March 2017 when he ran it in 29:38, an incredible feat in just only six months after he started.
“It feels so good after a run. In the short term, you are tired, but after that, you feel energised for the rest of the day.” The centurion runner, who plays squash also said that after improving his fitness, his ability to play squash greatly improved also.
His advice to people in the community was that it is very important to keep active. He
attested to the fact we have a generally unhealthy diet and as a community, we love our
food. Yet to balance this, it is crucial we find a way of looking after ourselves. Whether that
be running, swimming or playing a sport it is vital we find our passion early if anything to
ensure we can enjoy our food for longer.
He did confess at first it is not easy but aided by the “Park run no Masti” team around you,
once you build up the routine it becomes much less demanding. From the outside, it may
feel daunting and impossible, but everyone starts somewhere.
By Mohammad Mahdi Karim