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A special public festival

other Updated: Jan 17, 2009 23:40 IST
Deepti Patwardhan
Deepti Patwardhan
Hindustan Times
A special public festival

This edition of the Mumbai marathon is all the more special. The past five editions have brought the city together like nothing else, and this sense of belonging will be only heightened when athletes from abroad and from all shades of Mumbai life converge less than two months after the terror attacks.

The 'special' feeling hits you when you arrive at the heavily barricaded Trident towers, the official hotel for the event. On every step on the way to the rooftop you are aware of the violence unleashed at the building. Not too far, stands the magnificent façade of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. The connection between the buildings is all the more poignant now.

The scenic road hugging the Arabian Sea will host the athletes during the races on Sunday. There will be thousands lining the roads cheering on the runners. For the city, it is a public festival minus the firecrackers.

For five years we have watched, astounded, as the event has grown in leaps and bounds. While the first year could have fed off the novelty factor, the enthusiasm has refused to die down and only grown in subsequent editions. The number of participants has increased every year, in each category. Some of the dream runners have converted to the half-marathon, some half-marathoners have trained themselves for the long haul of 42.4 kms.

This year as many as 35,000 people are expected to participate in different categories.

Even as Mumbai dresses up in its brightest, the few elite runners will continue with their mundane task of winning.