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‘Shame old story’: Bad traffic management, no facilities at Pune International Marathon, again...

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) advised participants to skip this “unrecognised event”. AFI on Thursday (Nov 30) said it had not granted permission to the Pune International Marathon and also advised participants to skip this unrecognised event.

pune Updated: Dec 04, 2017 16:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Participants,bad traffic management
Participants of the 42-km full marathon event at the start of 32nd Pune International Marathon at Sanas Ground on Sunday.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

Pune The organisers of the Pune International Marathon have refused to learn from their previous mistakes. Every year organisers face criticism for poor management and this year too, the event was far from flawless.

Started in 1983, Pune International Marathon was the first international-level marathon in the country and is also the oldest marathon in India, held annually.

However, in recent times, the event had always been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and the 32nd edition was no exception.

In 2008, the pilot van missed a turn and ended up at a dead end in the Pune university. Moreover, 15 athletes from Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia who tried to find their own way though the confusing route markings, were disqualified. It was the biggest fiasco in the history of the Pune marathon. Though, the organisers tried their best to improve their administration, they have failed to manage traffic and Belachew Endale Abayneh of Ethiopia, who won the event in 2013, was also a victim of mismanagement.

Despite several pilot vehicles, the elite runner could not escape the chaos and was forced to make his way through two-wheelers and cars on the roads.

This year also marathon organisers failed on various fronts.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) advised participants to skip this “unrecognised event”. AFI on Thursday (Nov 30) said it had not granted permission to the Pune International Marathon and also advised participants to skip this unrecognised event.

In a letter to affiliated states, units and coaching camps in the country, the AFI said, “This is to inform you that Athletics Federation of India has not granted permission for Pune International Marathon.”

On this, race director Pralhad Sawant claimed that they have received permission from the Association of International Marathons (AIM) and don’t need permission from AFI. He also stated that the event will be a grand success and without any issue.

In reality, it was a complete disaster on Sunday morning. The official press release issued by Pune International Marathon claimed that over 90 foreign athletes from various countries are participating in the event, but in reality, not more than 40 athletes were seen on the roads. To play it safe, no participant list was handed to the media and neither was it published on the official website.

There was vehicle arranged for media persons and photographers either.

When asked, Sawant said, “The media van was creating problem for the athletes. And it wasn’t advisable to have a big bus for hardly four journalists. We didn’t even allow the Doordarshan van to give top-most attention to athletes’ comfort.”

PMC’s role

The event, which was once a glitterati fest, has failed to attract title sponsors for the last couple of years. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) have been supportive, sponsoring the prize money for several years. The event offers a total prize money of Rs 40 lakh and the PMC gives Rs 30 lakh -35 lakh every year. This year too, organisers were hoping for a similar financial backing from the PMC and had named Pune mayor Mukta Tilak as chairperson of the reception committee.

However, against the background of AFI’s letter, PCM distanced itself from the event neither mayor Mukta Tilak nor any member from the PMC was present.

PMC commissioner Kunal Kumar also stated that PMC will not give any funds for the event unless everything gets sorted out.

Athletes complain about road, traffic management

Like every year, the organisers failed to fulfil the basic requirement of the event. Foreign athletes complained about bad roads and poor traffic management after Balewadi.

“The roads were bad and in the initial stages of the race, it was so dark that we almost missed few turns,” said Zelalem Lema Dlema, who finished second in the women’s event.

When asked about this, Sawant said, “I doubt this happened. We have clearly marked every km and one van was stationed at every km. So there is no chance of missing any turns. They must have misjudged the boards, otherwise missing the route was impossible.”

About the traffic, he said, “We are helpless and clueless about that issue. I don’t know how to stop vehicles obstructing the athletes. It’s the duty of commuters to give way to the athletes, but nobody listens and without manpower, it’s impossible to handle each and every crossroad.”

First Published: Dec 03, 2017 22:11 IST