Salmaan Shikari, a member of the New York Dawoodi Bohra community, participated in his first New York City Marathon on November 7. The 26.2-mile race spanned across the five boroughs of New York City and commemorated the 50th race in the city’s history, with runners from all over the world participating in-person as well as virtually.
Mr. Shikari, a resident of Brooklyn and a software engineer at an investment firm in NYC, shared his experience of participating in an iconic race that celebrates the spirit of New York and is the largest marathon in the world.
“I have always been interested in fitness and health. When I was younger, I witnessed family members being affected by health problems and was even more determined to live a healthy lifestyle.
“I started running outside regularly in 2018 and, after about a year, I decided to challenge myself by signing up for the NYC 2021 marathon. I was inspired by my colleagues at work as well as my friend, Mukaram Burhani, who has been participating in the NYC marathon every year.
“One of my main motivations was to show my two young children that prioritizing physical health and fitness is important, as is maintaining a strong spiritual identity and love for His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the leader of the Dawoodi Bohras, who regularly guides members of the faith to maintain their health and fitness.
“To gain entry, I participated in the 9+1 program, which requires you to complete 9 qualifying races as well as volunteer at a race. I also followed an 18-week program starting from July 6 that involved running four times and walking for an hour each week. I slowly started building stamina to the point where I was running 40 miles every week. Each time, I could not believe I had accomplished a goal that I previously thought was unattainable.
“On the big day of the marathon, it was exhilarating to line up at the foot of the Verrazano bridge and look at the city ahead, knowing that we were going to run all the way through the breathtaking landscape of bridges and towering buildings. After the cannon fired to signal our start, we made our way through different neighborhoods and the energy of the spectators who had gathered to cheer us on was beyond words. After the challenges of the pandemic over the last year that led to the marathon being canceled, you could feel the sheer joy of everyone watching the race and the spirit of New Yorkers who kept us all going and made us not want to give up.
“The actual race became very challenging towards the end but I knew I just had to push through. I finished in 5 hours and 15 seconds. It was an inspiring and humbling experience to be one of the 33,000 runners participating in the race that day. I hope to be back next year and beat my own personal record.”