Tree lover and running person,” reads his Instagram bio. The deceptively disciplined rectangles of his photo gallery are spritzed with the colour and chaos of a free spirit...hiking, diving, running all over the world. Actually, make that two free spirits. By his own admission, Milind Soman’s favourite travel partner also happens to be his partner in life, Ankita Konwar. He loves the thrill of committing to active sports in new countries, and she likes faraway places with stories to spill. Here’s how travel makes the lovers meet in the middle.
Your childhood years played out over a lot of different places—Scotland, London, and Mumbai. Do any of the places/travels stand out?
I travelled a lot because I was swimming competitively. But back then, it was never about the place. I was travelling for organised events. At that age—I could have been 13 or 14—all I cared about were the swimming pools. And my family wasn’t with me. When you’re older you travel because you want to experience something particular. As a child you don’t know enough to be interested in the place or culture or food. But what was interesting about that kind of travel was meeting new people from different cultures, from all over the country, who were doing the same as me. I met swimmers from Kerala, Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat.
When did you start travelling mindfully?
About two years ago. After I grew up, sometimes I’d be travelling for 20 days a month. But even then, I was travelling for work. Anything that I saw happened by the way.
That changed after I got married. My wife loves to travel. I mean, I do too, I’d look at those monuments, but I must also find something interesting to do. A marathon, a triathlon, an adventure sport, a hike—some activity that becomes the focal point of that trip. Jerusalem, for instance, has such an incredible energy of faith and belief. But of course, I went there to run the Jerusalem Marathon. At the end of 2019, we travelled to Japan for ‘The Last Long Run’, 120 kilometres from Tokyo to Mount Fuji. It wasn’t even an organised public event, we created it and got other people to join. We spent 10 days there and did all sorts of other things, but these are the triggers that take us places.
Any similar plans on your bucket list?
I’ve always wanted see the Grand Canyon. But again, I don’t want to just stand there and take pictures of the sunset. We hope to do the rim-to-rim hike—start at the North Rim, go into the Canyon, go across it, and then come out of the South Rim. It’s very famous and everyone going there knows about, but not many attempt it. If I’m travelling all the way to America, it has to be for something special like that.
So you want to run your run in faraway lands, but your wife likes to soak in the places. How does that work?
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