Amarjeet Singh, 59, who was rendered completely blind while still in his teens, completed the half marathon in three hours on Sunday. By the time he reached the finish line at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), he was exhausted, his face a medley of emotions. Even as his determination was applauded by all, Singh said he ran his 32nd marathon to empower the sightless.
It was this spirit that was witnessed in liberal doses at the annual Mumbai Marathon, that completed its 12th edition on Sunday.
The event, considered the richest and biggest marathon in south-east Asia, had them all: first-time runners looking for an experience, veterans trying to better past records, and many others who did not let age, illness or disability get in their way. From college-goers looking for some fun to ambitious participants running for a cause – there was someone from every ‘run’ of life.
Though an exact count will take a few weeks, the event’s philanthropy partner, United Way of Mumbai, said funds raised for charity crossed an estimated Rs20 crore this year.
The 42.195-km full marathon was flagged off at 5.40am from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), with 3,429 participants. At 6am, 12,523 runners started the half marathon from Bandra Reclamation, transforming the city with the colour and zest of a festival. Around 8.45am, the 6-km Dream Run from CST to Azad Maidan was kickstarted, with around 20,000 participants. In all, a whopping 40,000 took part in the city’s defining annual event on Sunday morning.
While one participant donned a blood-stained school uniform as a gesture of protest against the recent Peshawar school massacre in Pakistan, Janardhan Nair from Thakurli showed up in the guise of an elderly man, to encourage the younger generation to take care of the aged.
The city ran in solidarity with terror victims, cancer patients, the girl child, those battling haemophilia, and underprivileged children, just to name a few. Three friends from Worli – Jugal Vohra, Aashish Gupta and Dimple Vohra – called for an end to corruption and violence against women. Dimple, dressed as a battered woman confined to a cage, said, “We are running for a better world for women.”
Led by John Abraham, the event ambassador, a host of celebrities boosted the morale of the runners, including chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Actors like Rahul Bose, Dia Mirza, Mandira Bedi and Tara Sharma participated in the event.