The most complaints I get about this column are when I write about running. Lekin, saal mein ek piece to banta hai!
It can happen only in India. People celebrate the opening of dance bars, while kids are dying after a mid-day meal, as in the “ringa-ringa-roses” ditty. The rupee is in free fall, yet the Sensex is rising. Medical admissions continue to be a mess and Mr. Narendra Modi continues to be off-limits as far as jokes are concerned. We are all laddhat only!
Yesterday, the Mumbai Marathon registrations opened up. The servers were crawling and a 5 min registration took 45 min. Males meeting the open category criteria were probably all trying to register at the same time…if you are male and haven’t run before, it is not possible to get into the open category…the only way is through a charity bib. Women are much luckier because of the special quota.
If you look at running calendars in the country, there is probably a run somewhere or the other each weekend. Each one is called a “marathon” even if it is only a 3 km run, but nevertheless…anything that encourages people to get onto the roads and move their legs is worth the effort. I will have also run a few half-marathons by the time it gets to 19th January, 2014, the date for the Mumbai Marathon, 182 days from today.
Despite all those events across the country, the Mumbai one is the big one! While most other events get around 1000–2000 registrations, it is the Mumbai event that gets over 15,000 for the full and half marathons combined and then a whopping 20000 plus for the Dream Run! Many who do just one run a year, wait expectantly just for this one morning.
The idea is to get onto the road. This is the one time when you can actually walk/run across the SeaLink, the one time when there is no traffic while running; on Worli Sea Face, on Peddar Road, on Marine Drive and on DN Road. If nothing else, just the thrill of the traffic-free roads should get you excited. And if you can’t get an open category bib, charity bibs are quite easy to get. And if you don’t want to run, that’s fine too. Just walk…at 9–10 min/km, you will still make it through the half-marathon in 3 and a quarter to 3 and a half hours, as some people I know do every year.
Now that the date is set, people will start training in earnest…and once the monsoons are over, it will become a full-time occupation for many. But running in the monsoons has its own charm. And nothing beats running on the Aamby Valley road in Lonavala. You start at the CCD a little after the McDonald’s. The road goes a little up and down past Bushy dam up to INS Shivaji. Then starts the 2 km uphill run that gets you into the clouds. Imagine running through a white shroud, able to see just 10 feet in front of you as faint headlights pass you by, mindless yet focused, your breath, your heartbeat, your feet and arms, all in sync…what better “high” is there!
If you have a car that can pick you up, then it is 21 km to Sahara Aamby Valley, but you can stop anywhere in between and drive back. If you don’t have transport, you can run back and enjoy the downhill.
Trust me! Being part of that collective whoosh of the Mumbai Marathon is worth the experience at least once in your lifetime.