Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Barefoot 'Granny' Wins 3k Race In India

BBC News:

"Lata Bhagwan Kare [age 61] performed the feat wearing a nauvari - a traditional sari named after the term for a single nine-yard (8.2m) piece of cloth - Indian newspaper Daily News & Analysis reports. She started the race in the western town of Baramati wearing slippers. When one came off, she discarded the other too. Within minutes, she had apparently left all the other runners way behind.

"I used to go for morning walks daily, but I had never run. If I had even tried to run, people would have found it strange and they would have asked me uncomfortable questions," Kare says. She tells the paper she felt "a little awkward" at the starting line as the other participants were staring at her outfit. "However, when the race began and I started overtaking them one by one, I gained my energy." Throughout the... race, she kept telling herself she wanted to win - "And I did it." She says she'd like to take part in more races, but "only god knows whether I remain as strong then as I am today"."

This seems to be the original story, with the picture above.

No word on her finishing time.

P.S. File this one under "Too good to be true", or maybe "why journalists aren't to be trusted"...

The first commenter on this post provides a link to a more likely version of the story: that the lady in question won a 3k race held at a marathon, not the marathon itself. I looked around before posting this suspecting something like that was the case, but wasn't able to find any thing. So thanks to La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie) for setting me straight.

"61-year-old barefoot woman labourer wins 3-km race at Baramati marathon"

This story provides the most likely version of events, and the title ("Sixty-six-year-old granny runs 'marathon' in a saree in Maharashtra", with marathon in scare quotes) explains how the story changed from the facts:

"Kare's dress code was a traditional Maharashtrian saree, and no shoes at all! She won the senior citizen's category running 3 km and was awarded a cash prize of Rs 5000 and a certificate.

"Over 9500 people participated in the race in four categories but clearly the highlight was the 66-year-old farm worker. After running her first marathon Kare, who is a grandmother, now wants to run more races. With better footwear and running gear, you never know, she could just be another Fauja Singh in the making...."

"Better footwear". Dumb journalists...

So she won the senior category in a 3k race. At 66! Congratulations, nevertheless.

And a good lesson on how the press can twist a story, and how failing to check news reports adequately can lead to error...


  1. Hello.

    I think that information in not correct. She has won a 3 km race, not the entire marathon. But great job anyway.



  2. I'm not sure how your source is any better than the source in the post. Neither of them have any evidence to say for sure what race she was in. Whether it was 26 miles or 1.5 miles. A 61 year old lady who has never ran before beat everyone else in a foot race.

  3. Looking at the photo the two runners do not appear to be going at a 3k pace (for which the winners would likely have a more aggressive stride) but a marathon pace.

  4. Thanks, La Gazza. I suspected it might be something like that, but wasn't able to find any other story about her.

    As much as I'd like the barefoot granny wins marathon story to be true, I suspect "winds 3k" is a lot more likely to be the correct answer.

  5. They didn't even get her age right in that article. Good grief.