Shrikrishna Deshpande traversed 499 km from Belgaum in Karnataka to Mumbai, to participate in the 4.3-km Senior Citizens’ Run at the Mumbai Marathon 2010.
For three years, the marathon has served as an annual pilgrimage for the 85-year-old. “Exercise is the secret to good health. The distance is inconsequential as the marathon is a test of fitness,” said Deshpande, a former railway employee who runs barefoot by choice.
The sheer scale of the event and moniker of Asia’s largest marathon has gradually spurred participation from not just Mumbaiites but people from elsewhere. Though the orgainsers do not maintain a separate record of out-of-town entries, they admitted that the numbers have increased.
Michelle Sharma ran her first marathon in the Republic of Malta, her second in Chennai post-marriage and her third in Mumbai this Sunday.
“It’s my first visit to the city. I was apprehensive at first. I didn’t know what to expect of the weather, the organisation or the people. But it was incredible. Running across the sea link was truly the highlight in this marathon experience,” said Sharma (32), now based in Chennai.
“I’ve run the Delhi Marathon but the scale of the Mumbai event is overwhelming. While running across the sea link I felt like I was abroad,” said J.B. Singh (36), an ex-sportsman from Chandigarh, who ran the Mumbai Marathon for the first time.
For Madasu Srinivasrao (56), the Mumbai Marathon was a platform to spread the word for statehood for his beloved Telangana in Andhra Pradhesh.
Srinivasrao participated in the 2.7-km wheelchair event this year bearing posters of ‘Jai Telangana’ on his self-drawn wheelchair.