Hello! My name is Atin Batra (that’s me on the right). I’m a Hong Kong-based venture capitalist by day, and an amateur ultra-trail runner on the weekends (or early weekday mornings, when I train).
Cheekoo.run is my family’s effort to organise an annual fundraiser to help the less fortunate, in memory of my father’s elder brother Amul Batra (Cheekoo to his family and friends). As my personal contribution, I will be dedicating all of my ultra-trail races in perpetuity towards spreading word of and fundraising for the cause.
YOU ‘RUN’ IN THE MOUNTAINS?! 😳
I’d never run in my life, not competitively, not for fun. “I’m going for a run” was a phrase uttered maybe, if at all, once a year. However, I did/do consider myself a sporty kind. Played all kinds of sports in school/college including lawn tennis, table tennis, volleyball, cricket and, my favorite, badminton. I’ve also always loved hiking.
On 1 January 2016, I set myself a New Year’s Resolution: to run a half marathon. But I didn’t want to do just any half marathon and since road running would be boring, I wanted to do one on the trails. A couple of days later, I signed up for my first trail run – the Hysan Island Hike & Run on 20th March 2016. Did not train for it. Got up on the morning to an inner voice that said “don’t be a fool, you’ll hurt yourself”. Somehow I quelled the doubts and went for it, finishing 21km in 5hrs and 31mins.
The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been upping the stakes ever since, attempting to run longer distances. The first year was like a pileup on the highway – one DNF (Did Not Finish) after another. Since, I’ve finished the Hong Kong 100, the TransLantau 100, the Lantau 70, the Moontrekker 43 and many more races; which means I can legitimately call myself an ultra-trail runner.
BUT WHAT IS CHEEKOO?
Not what, it’s a who. Amul Batra, or Cheekoo as everyone called him, was my father’s elder brother. Someone I loved more than anyone else in this world. I called him ‘Tau’, which is Hindi for ‘father’s elder brother’. Tau was a patient of cerebral palsy, which means he had almost no control over his body – couldn’t speak, could not move. Confined to a wheelchair, he had to be helped with the most mundane of daily tasks, that you and I take for granted.
BUT, I can bet my life that you would never meet anyone happier than him! Forever smiling☺️, he could put joy into your soul as if it was pouring water into a glass. He was very smart, and the mischievous twinkle in his eye was always at odds with the innocent smile on his lips. Loved watching 2 kinds of movies: the western English-language action flicks and Bollywood Hindi movies, especially the soppy family dance-and-dramas (which I must admit is an affliction my entire clan suffers from😏). If there was a cricket match on TV, you could hear him screaming at the players urging them to run faster, hit harder, play better.
He passed away at the age of 53 on 3 August 2015.
HE’S WATCHING OVER ME
In 2018, as I got more serious about my physical training, a question kept nagging at me. Especially in those times when it hurt and I felt like quitting: why do I run? Honestly, it began with me just challenging myself physically. But now it feels like I’m running to see places – to show them to Tau. I’ve always felt like he’s watching over me, seeing the world through my eyes. And that thought empowers me. I attack each climb so I can get to the top and admire the view.
Since the initiative began, we’ve donated 21 wheelchairs through the amazing organization that is Wheels for Life. They’ve changed people’s lives – helped them be mobile again, attend school/college, set up their own business and much more. The good fight continues!
On 11 July 2020 at 9pm HKT, I am running the Quarantine Backyard Ultra – a race where 1,200 runners from across the world will run loops of 6.706km every hour, until only 1 runner is left and declared the winner. Of course, I’m not expecting to win but my target is to run at least 12hours (~80km).
I’d like some motivation (so important!), so I’m raising donations for 12 wheelchairs, 1 per loop. It will be awesome if we can raise more than that – and I will try my damndest to keep running loops equal to the donations we raise. Use the Donate button above to make your contribution to the cause.
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