SAN FRANCISCO - On July 31, senior Amal Mehta completed an ultramarathon, covering over 52 miles in a single run. While an incredible feat on its own, Amal not only ran for the physical test but also to raise money for his own non-profit, Grameen Pragati (ગ્રામીણ પ્રગતિ, literally, Rural Progress), an initiative that Mehta himself started during his sophomore year to provide hope and light for villages in India. Through participating in the run, Mehta raised $2400 fundraising through his friends and family.
Mehta has run lengthy races before; in past years, he participated with a team in The Relay, a 200-mile race. An individual ultramarathon, however, posed a new challenge for Mehta.
“This race requires a tremendous amount of stamina compared to the 200 mile relay because [it] is not broken into separate chunks of distance,” Mehta said in an interview conducted before his race. “I haven't run such a long distance continuously before, and I’m hoping that I'll be able to do it within nine to 11 hours,” said Mehta.
To prepare for the race, Mehta not only ran extensively but also trained through swimming and traveling distances approximately close to that of his ultra-marathon.
Metha ran regularly in middle school and saw his passion as a way to fundraise.
“I really like running because it’s fun pushing my limits and staying fit,” Mehta said. “I wanted to raise funds through running races since it was enjoyable way to help my cause.”
Mehta was inspired to start Grameen Pragati after visiting his village in India five years ago.
“I realized that a lot of school children didn’t have access to light during the night, which took away many hours of their day that they could spend working on their education or doing chores,” Mehta said. “Some families use kerosene lanterns, which is a detrimental risk to the family's health and the environment.”
After the race, Mehta recounted his experience.
“It isn't just twice as hard as a marathon, it’s possibly three to four times as hard because you get more sore and tired the more you run,” Mehta said. “The race was difficult because I didn’t train as much as I would have liked, and I hurt my knee two weeks before. After the race, I was very sore and hurt a part of my posterior knee.”
Mehta seeks to utilize his passion as an avid cyclist and backpacker to raise funds towards his cause as well.
Said Mehta, “I am really interested in backpacking and cycling as well, so long distance funding trips like that may happen some time in the future.”
As crowds cheer on Mehta’s endless, passion-driven run to alleviate conditions for people in India, Mehta continues to take countless steps to better himself, his community, and the world.
For more information about the ultra-marathon in which Mehta ran, go to