Mumbai Marathon Reminiscences

This would have been my 5th continuous half-marathon. I am registered, have a bib, but can’t run…I have a commitment in another city that is even more important!

If it was just another run (and there are so many of them these days), it wouldn’t have mattered…the Mumbai Marathon has now morphed into something bigger than “just another race”.

It doesn’t matter how many half-marathons or marathons you may have participated in throughout the year in India. When you are part of a collective whoosh like the Mumbai event, the high that you get from just being part of the sea of people that makes its way from the start-point to the end, is worth all the effort…it doesn’t matter whether you stumble, walk or run…the glow that envelopes you when you breast the finish line, despite the pain and the muscle aches, lasts for a good few days more. It’s an endorphin high that crack addicts inject themselves daily for!

The run itself has its own rhythm. The start, when we are all fresh and enthusiastic, the middle drudge portion when we pass Wilson college and then the final segment that starts the moment we take a left turn from Marine Drive. That’s when we know, with just about a kilometer left, that we will make it, come what may. The countdown to the finish starts when we take the next left turn onto D N Road…about 300 meters down the road looms the finish line…people in front of us finish with their arms held high, making sure the cameras capture their bib numbers…and then disappear into the crowd beyond.

As we approach the end and see the large clock timer, we try and speed up in the last 200 meters, hoping to better our time somehow in that short period, even if we are not focused on our pace…and then, it’s over!

Some people walk away immediately. I stay back, and try and stretch on the wall on the left and take in the energy. Everyone who finishes has a look of accomplishment …of having achieved something bigger than oneself…of having done something different that day. People do jigs, hug each other, give high-fives and then hobble towards the medical tent or try and get inside the holding area. When we finally walk away, we see others like us, still wearing their bibs…despite being total strangers there is an instant knowing smile or grimace and an intuitive acknowledgement that binds us together for that brief moment!

Running on the SeaLink has also changed the run’s profile. The first year it was thrown open, it was amazing to see the sun rise on our left…there were non-runners with cameras who had registered just so that they could get to walk across the SeaLink and take pictures.

The first time I ran in Jan 2008, I managed an unprepared under-3 hours that left me stiff as a board for the next 3 days. The next year I ran a slow 3 hours and 15 minutes, walking most of the times…I had trained badly. For the next two runs, I was better prepared and the last one was my best…easy and smooth and according to plan. This year would have been even better!

Do yourself a favor! Be part of the event next Sunday! You could still perhaps get a bib for charity. Or you can be on the sidelines, cheering. One way or the other you will have the pleasure of being part of a terrific collective event that happens but once a year in our city!


  • Aarti Mehta wrote:

    You make it sound so enticing

  • P. Venkatraman wrote:

    GReat post..sorry to know that you will miss it…it is my own father’s shraddha thiti on Sunday 20th.

    Though I am all for doing the shraddam in full form, this time it will be done in short form.

    My father will surely understand, I guess.

    But then why not your business interests elsewhere?


  • Rohit Gosalia wrote:

    As always – your article before SCMM is extremely worth a read… We will certainly miss U not being part of this Mumbai Annual Event – which truly portrays Mumbai Spirit.

  • Armaity Surendra Patel wrote:

    Hi, nice to know that such marathons take place in Mumbai too! We will miss it as we are out of town. Better Luck next time.

  • Dear Bhavin,
    About the Marathon, Sorry, I cannot disagree more with you. In India, it is just a tamasha like almost everything else in life.
    More than 70% of the so called runners of half-marathon are totally unprepared and they behave as if they are on some sort of picnic. There are a few serious ones who are also under-prepared . It is nothing but a sham!!

    If one enters a marathon or a half-marathon, they have to practice seriously
    atleast for two to three weeks to give atleast some sort of performance.

    I have been a witness to these marathons in New York and Durban(S.A) and know that the participants there don’t treat these events as a tamasha as is being done here.

    But then,developing a true sporting culture is beyond us—isn’t it???

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Completely disagree. A good number of people work really hard to participate in this event.

  • So I live 24km from “town” or the starting line if you will…. to have taken part I would have had to wake up at around 4AM (not a big deal), get ready and catch a local to go 24km stand in line (parking my car and going for a run is so Devil wears Prada besides this is Mumbai)…. my kids would not have been able to come along (considering they’re 4yrs and 9 months respectively)…. and once done I would’ve had to travel back…. with a timing of 2:30-2:45 that comes to a total of around 5-6 hours that I spend on running a 21.09km (half marathon)…. the effective distance covered 69-70km…. kind of too much tamasha….

    I did the maths and then went out quietly on the evening of 19 January, ran 21.34km in 2:44:31…. my first half marathon all by myself, no tamasha. Point being it’s all great to be part of a crowd, show solidarity, have fun etc…. people coming from all parts of the world (Fauja Singh for instance)….. but end of the day it’s a run, you do it for yourself. Go out and run…. don’t look for a certificate from some lousy bank…. marathons need to change in format… run wherever you are at the same time with your Garmin/phoneapp and upload the data(if you really want to be so vain)…. done!

    So as long as you’re running (for yourself) missing a marathon should really be no big deal I guess….

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