Tourists stop in city for a marathon visit | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Tourists stop in city for a marathon visit

mumbai Updated: Jan 16, 2012 01:34 IST
Bhavya Dore

Taking in the country one marathon at a time, French tourist Jean-Benoit Jaouen, 53, planned his India trip this winter around the timings of various races in the country.

Benoit, a freelance writer for a running magazine, on Sunday ran his fourth marathon in the country since he arrived in December; the earlier ones were at Goa, Pune and Ahmedabad. Next up: Bangalore, and a 100-km run through Rajasthan.

Running through the cities is the best way to see a new place and meet new people, he said. "No one can see Mumbai like we did this morning, with the whole road to ourselves running through a scenic route," said Benoit. "It's a different way of seeing a country."

Marathon tourism - or hopping between cities, countries and continents in order to soak up entire cultures through athletics - was on full display at Sunday's race.

Piyush Gudka, 56, based out of London, has run 33 marathons in six different continents. "I like to experience different cultures and running a marathon is one way of doing that," said Gudka. "Also, it's a sport where you can run alongside all kinds of runners - those in costume, elite runners, amateurs."

France, England, the US, Hong Kong - runners from across the globe showed up in the city on Sunday, their trips planned around the marathon.

"I planned my holiday around this date," said Mushtaq Rahim, 47, who flew in from Cape Town three weeks ago. "It's my first international marathon and I will be coming back."

Many came from others cities in India to run in Mumbai. "Indians think we are Nepalis, but we are very much a part of India and we are proud of that so we came here to run," said Kamal Thapa, 34, one of a contingent of Gorkhas from Darjeeling.