“Buck up, just two more kilometres to go. Don’t stop,” said a woman in her 40s as she sprayed some anti-inflammatory medicine on my tired knees, which had already taken a steady battering for 19 km. A little boy standing with her handed me a bottle of Electral and said, “Little more. Go, go, go.”
How could one not suppress the pain and break into a run again when thousands of Mumbaiites had lined up the entire stretch from Worli to the finish line at Azad Maidan helping and cheering participants of the Full and Half Marathon on Sunday?
Having seen the Delhi Half Marathon, the Bangalore 10-km run and the Kolkata Marathon, running the Mumbai Marathon gave me a different high.
Last year’s general elections saw around 40 per cent voter turnout in south Mumbai, but the turnout for the marathon, to runners including this correspondent, seemed more impressive.
And Mumbaiites weren’t silent spectators. They had hit the road early on Sunday morning and were busy handing out bottles of water, Electral, lemon juice, glucose biscuits, fruits, chocolates, nutrition bars, first aid and the much-needed pep talk for runners all the way.
The Full Marathon and Half Marathon routes snaked through the impressive Rajiv Gandhi Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Worli seaface, Haji Ali and Marine Drive bathed in the early morning sun. The music bands and the live singing kept the feet moving. The atmosphere was charged. Stopping wasn’t an option.
In Delhi, you could count on the ghosts of the Mughal emperors and mildly surprised roadside-dwellers to see a huge bunch running past historical monuments and roads lined with houses of politicians and judges. The Garden City is now a city under construction and though Bangaloreans are an enthusiastic lot, it’s not much fun running through a dug-up city.
As for the Kolkata Marathon, it started last year. There were the initial organisational hiccups and participants and vehicles were moving side by side along the race route. An anecdote sums it up: Five guys were running, a bus passing by stopped a few metres ahead and the conductor stepped out asked them, “You want to go to Howrah?”
(Shrenik Avlani completed the Half Marathon (21 km) in 2 hours 16 minutes).