Unstoppable Mumbai scores a runaway hit

  • Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jan 18, 2016 00:53 IST
Participants of half marathon at Marine Drive on Sunday. (Kunal Patil/ HT)

Colonel VS Rawat, 67, flew down from Delhi to Mumbai on Saturday evening with just one aim – to complete the full marathon in three hours.

By the time he reached the finish line at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), he was exhausted, but the moment he looked at his watch, he realised that he had completed the 42.195-km run in two-and-a-half hours.

Like Rawat, there were many who attempted at bettering their records, including first-time runners, college-goers, senior citizens and those with disabilities.

A whopping 40,245 people took part in the 13th edition of the Mumbai Marathon on Sunday morning.

“The struggle is not to stop even once, only then do we realise the potential of our body and how far we can stretch it,” said an ecstatic Rawat, who has been running the marathon for the past seven years.

The event, one of the biggest annual marathons in south-east Asia, was flagged off at 5.40am from CST. It saw an increase of about 2,000 participants this year for the two main events — the full and half marathon.

While a total of 5,190 participants ran the 41.195-km marathon, 14,431 enthusiastic runners ran the half marathon from opposite Worli Dairy at 6am.

This year, funds raised for charity have been estimated at Rs21 crore. It was collected by United Way of Mumbai, the event’s philanthropy partner. Although the exact figure on collections will be estimated in a few weeks, according to rough estimates, the figure may have been an all-time high.

Participants pointed out that there was adequate supply of water, restrooms and energy bars. They also gushed about the “very co-operative cops”. “The races were timed properly and elite runners didn’t face hurdles. However, there were complaints of bottlenecks at some of the U-turns in the half marathon,” said Giles Drego, a physical trainer from Bandra and a regular.

Around 900 senior citizens made their way across a 4.3km distance from CST to Azad Maidan around 8am, while 363 people with disabilities ran 1.75km.

Mumbai’s spirit was seen in liberal doses as onlookers boosted the morale of the runners.

“I like to run marathons in different cities to get a different experience. I like the spirit of Mumbai. In my hometown, Ahmedabad, residents fume over inconvenience caused by marathons, the people in Mumbai tend to co-operate and encourage you to run,” said Ravindra Joshipura, who participated in the half marathon. The 69-year-old former cricketer said he runs four or five marathons every year.

Around 9am, the 6-km dream run from CST to Azad Maidan began, with 18,934 participants.

It was the most vibrant as groups ran in solidarity with terror victims, cancer patients, the girl child, the underprivileged and those battling ailments such as cancer, AIDS and haemophilia. While there were some who spread the same messages through placards on the sidelines of the event, other groups performed cultural art forms.

A host of celebrities were present to cheer the runners, including Katrina Kaif, R Madhavan and Gulshan Grover. Like every year, celebrities such as Rahul Bose and Tara Sharma ran alongside citizens, while chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was present during the prize distribution ceremony.

Former Olympic gold medailist, American track and field athlete Edwin Moses and actor John Abraham, the event ambassadors, flagged off the runs.

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