Denied a go at Pune Marathon, paraplegic walks his own

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After preparing for six months for the Pune International Marathon 2012, when paraplegic Akash Kumbhar, who moves with the aid of a walker, wanted to register for the event he was told he could be allowed only in the paraplegic marathon where participants use wheelchair. That was not what Kumbhar wanted.

The 29-year-old, who had become mobile again only around a year ago after an accident that confined him to bed for almost five years, wanted to walk.

Kumbhar was disheartened that he could not walk in the event on December 2. Not one to give up, he started a solo marathon on the same route, the very next day.

On December 3, he began his solo marathon from Alaka Talkies Chowk, the starting point for the Pune International Marathon 2012. Covering almost three to four kilometres a day, he concluded his marathon on December 14 at the Nehru Stadium, the finishing point of the Pune Marathon, covering over 42 km in 12 days.

His was inspired by paraplegic Claire Lomas. She had walked the London Marathon earlier this year.

"I was inspired by Claire Lomas who completed almost the same distance at the London Marathon in 16 days. I started preparing for the Pune International Marathon but unfortunately didn't get permission. I decided to attempt it individually," says Kumbhar. A car accident in 2006 had rendered him a paraplegic and he had been bedridden for more than five years.

A year ago, he started consulting experts at Sancheti Hospital and began gradual recovery. "With the right treatment and physiotherapy, he started improving. Initially, he just took one or two steps, which increased with time. Now he uses Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis (KAFO) and a walker to walk," said Kumbhar's physiotherapist Dr Chintan Kataria. He and Dr Gaurav Kutaskar accompanied Kumbhar during his marathon. There was also an ambulance on the route.

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