Search for ‘Kashmir to Kanyakumari’ on the web, and your top results will show a distance of 2,586 kilometres on the map, or the popular Shahrukh Khan number from the film Chennai Express. Let’s meet someone who would change the way you look at this distance forever. 34 year old Sufiya Khan has been so affected by the atmosphere of hate and unrest in today’s world that she decided to run, not away from it, but to change it.
Sufiya was born and brought up in Ajmer, home of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, the Sufi saint known for his message of peace and love of humanity. She chose a path through which she could carry her message of hope to the masses, in her own unique way. “I believe that one should use their passion to achieve bigger goals in life. Through this I could reach different people from different cultures and I got a chance of telling them what I feel about humanity.” She’s now the Guinness World Record holder for being the first and fastest woman to have covered Kashmir to Kanyakumari by foot.
Sufiya’s expedition started in Kashmir in April 2019 and she feels there could be no better place to have as the first leg of her journey.“I can never forget Srinagar especially for how the locals came to encourage me, they are a truly hospitable community. We started the run from Dal Lake and there were no negative vibes at all, neither for my mission nor for the fact that I am a girl. I always try to clear up the negativity about Kashmir in people’s minds now. I tell them about the love I received in my Kashmir phase. Good and bad people are everywhere but it’s not right to form opinion without experience” she says.
Sufiya ran 4000 kilometres in 87 days 2 hours and 17 minutes and became an inspiration for many girls wanting to achieve similar goals. The super-marathon girl believes that her K2K journey (as the Kashmir to Kanyakumari circuit is called) transformed her into a new person. “I learnt to be content” she says, “my most testing moment was when I fell ill in Jalandhar and was hospitalized for five days.
The doctors told me that one of my lungs has collapsed. My gall bladder was swollen as a result of pollution and dust. I couldn’t even stand on my feet. I was given heavy dosage of antibiotics, 5-6 bottles daily. Those five days transformed me into a new person who is much tougher than before. I became mentally strong and decided that I will not give up. For I had met people who had lost a lot more in their lives, it made me a part of this big family of people.”
Before K2K, Sufiya had already covered the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur triangle circuit that not only turned her into an Ultra Marathon runner but gave her bigger objectives in life. As a result, Sufiya started her ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ in 2020 that included running through four metros, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. It began in February 2020 in Delhi and Sufiya was already midway before the COVID-19 lockdown came as a big jolt to her marathon.
“I was already close to Vishakhapattnam when the lockdown was announced. I felt I might not be able to get people to join. I had done Delhi to Kolkata, and was moving towards Andhra Pradesh. It seemed like my effort had gone waste, and I wasn’t able to accept it mentally.
I decided to postpone it and we’re at home now, hoping for things to get back to normal.” Clearly the COVID pandemic put her mission on hold, but she is undeterred. The super runner believes that the pandemic is a clear message for human race and she wants to follow nature’s guidance in this regard. “Just like us, nature needs a break from the negativity and needs more compassion. Only then we’ll move on in life, healthy and happy.”