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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Other Sport

Elite athletes struggle to get replenishments
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, January 21, 2013
First Published: 00:51 IST(21/1/2013)
Last Updated: 00:55 IST(21/1/2013)

The 10th edition of the Mumbai Marathon was to be a celebration of sorts. But a few arrangements didn't exactly go as per plan. For starters, the increase in the number of entries for the full marathon for amateur runners was a cause of hindrance for the elite athletes. The slow pace of the amateurs meant a sea of runners, time and again blocked the lead vehicle and elite runners alike.

In fact at a couple of water stations, the elite lot were unable to access their drinks, as the amateurs were in the way. To add to the woes, the number of volunteers at each station weren't adequate to tend to the pace at which the elite runners would pass them.

It was a major cause for concern for Ethiopian Jacob Cheshari, who was unable to get his drink at two stops. "I wanted my drink at two stations but just couldn't access it due to the other runners. It's what slowed me down a couple of times," he said.

Race director Hugh Jones admitted that there were a few hitches that needed to be addressed. "The water stations too should have been positioned better in order to make it accessible for the runners," he said.

"The increase in the number of amateurs is a good sign. But they were a major issue for the elite runners. We'll have to either restrict the number of entries the next time around or set a cutoff time for them," he added.

Apart from the race, a major let down were the number of spectators who turned out to egg on the runners. Previous editions have seen packed audiences, especially on the Marine Drive promenade, but that was missing this time around.

At the finish line, rather than focussing on the elite runners, the compere was focussing on the celebrities on the stage.

The television coverage was another let down. Even as two African runners blazed the course with record timings, the live television coverage added another dimension to the term 'idiot box'.

Telecasts of the marathon involving elite international and Indian runners received short shrift as celebrities hogged the limelight.

Lucky break for Sachin
It was a last-minute call for Sachin Patil to participate in the half marathon and coming second was more than just satisfying for the lad from Kolha-pur.

"I was not getting desired result in my practice sessions and thought of skipping it. I just applied and fortunately the decision proved right," said Patil. A steeplechase runner, Patil still wants to stick to his pet event despite the success.


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