Six years ago, ex-army officer TK Roy, 37, lost both his legs in a road accident in Siliguri, West Bengal, but that did not deter him from completing the 1.75-km ‘Champions with Disabilities’ run. To cap it, he finished five minutes before the others.
“An army officer can never stay put. Even though I need a buddy (wheelchair assistant) now, I feel like I am on my feet,” said Roy, who trains through the year at the Paraplegic Rehab Centre in Siliguri, and has been participating in the Mumbai Marathon for the past three years.
Like Roy, several others were trying to better past records along with first-time runners, college-goers, senior citizens, the differently abled, and children at the 14th edition of the Mumbai Marathon, which flagged off from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) at 5.40am on Sunday. A whopping 42,379 people took part in the city’s defining annual event — 2,000 more than last year. The run, which is one of south-east Asia’s richest and biggest annual marathons, saw 6,262 amateur runners from different parts of the country and 218 from various nationalities. The 21.097km half-marathon, that was flagged from Worli Dairy at 5.40am saw 14,628 participants, 200 more than last year, along with 203 runners from abroad. Both the marathons terminated at CST.
Maharashtra governor C Vidyasagar Rao flagged off the races along with BJP leader Shaina NC and actor Rahul Bose, while chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and his wife felicitated some of the winners. A host of celebrities, including, John Abraham, the Indian ambassador for the marathon, and Kenyan international ambassador and Olympic champion David Rudisha, were there to boost the runners.
“I had trained for six months to run the half-marathon and the moment I crossed the finish line, it was so fulfilling to see John Abraham, my favourite actor, waiting for us,” said Amrita Joshi 22, a Kandivli resident.
“It was a wonderful experience, apart from being a physically challenging activity,” said Shishir Ranjan, 35, marketing executive, who had flown down from Hyderabad on Friday. “Most participate in marathons to express the spirit of survival. This was my first time but now I have decided that this is one run I am never going to miss.”
This year, funds raised for charity was estimated at Rs25 crore and was collected by United Way of Mumbai, the event’s philanthropy partner. Organisers said the rough figure had surpassed the previous figures, and has almost touched Rs30 crore.
Participants said that there was adequate supply of garbage bins, water, restrooms, energy bars and the police cooperated as they ran through the city. “Arrangements for garbage disposal at Azad Maidan and around the course was better than last year,” said Manjeet Sohni, Colaba resident.
Others were unhappy with somevolunteers. “Some volunteers were slightly arrogant when being asked for directions,” said Sunita Yadav, 65, who had to come to run from Mira Road with her 69-year-old husband, Manoj.
In other competitions, 921 senior citizens made their way across a 4.3-km stretch from CST to Azad Maidan, while 433 differently abled participants ran 1.75km on Sunday. “It has become more enjoyable for people with disabilities as organisers have shortened the course from 2.7km to 1.7km from 2015,” said Arshad Shinde, 40, Lalbaug resident, who is paralysed below the waist .
At 9am, the 6-km Dream Run from CST to Azad Maidan started with 19,980 participants. Groups ran for different causes. Few groups performed cultural art forms during the 6-km run while diverse musical bands performed after the event.