Traffic Jams

Before you roll your eyes and say, “Not again. Not one more article about cars and traffic jams and law breaking motor cyclists and bad roads and potholes” …this is not about vehicular traffic jams.

There are 8 days left for SCMM’s 11th edition…before some of you non-runners roll your eyes and say “Not again. Not one more article about running”, remember, “ek running article, once a year, to banta hai”.

I don’t have the numbers, but if last year was any indication, there should be about 5,000 full-marathon and about 15,000 odd half-marathon runners participating this year.

Most are Mumbaiites. And they need to train. And given the lack of large grounds and open spaces, most training happens on the roads, typically, in the early mornings before sunrise. In the winter months, when sunrise is around 7.00, practice runs often start at 5.00 or even earlier, given how well lit our main roads are.

One of the more popular running routes is the Worli Sea Face – Haji Ali – Peddar Rd – Babulnath – Marine Drive – Nariman Point one. The Sunday before New Year’s Eve (Dec 29th), 3 weeks before the 19th January event, saw perhaps the largest turnout of runners on the roads, most doing a last but one long practice run, some alone, many in groups.

In the last few years, running in groups and with trainers has become quite popular in our city. Unfortunately in SoBo, all groups pretty much have to use the same running routes.

I always run facing the traffic and find it insane that most run with their back to the oncoming vehicles. That day, I started from Worli Sea Face around 5.15 AM with a few stray runners in both directions. As I hit the Peddar Road incline, there was someone running towards me virtually every minute or so. This continued up to the Kemps Corner flyover, where the singletons turned to pairs. To pass them, I would either have to run onto the road, or force the pairs to do so, but luckily the flyover run is short, there were no speeding cars and there was no major incident.

Then I turned into Babulnath Road, and bang…hit a virtual wall of runners. There were at least 3 groups that had probably started together on Marine Drive and in the dark, these groups were running 3-4 together, as if this was already the Mumbai Marathon, the road theirs, cleared of cars and trucks, nothing to fear from the vehicles that often careen by at crazy speeds at that time of the day. Seriously! 3-4 together, hogging more than 1/2 to 2/3rds of the road, forcing anyone coming from the opposite side to either sidestep onto the pavement, or steer onto the middle of the road!

I did what any sensible person would do. I raised my forearms in front of my head as shields and just ploughed through the runners’ traffic.

In a way this is all good. More runners, more people staying fit and all quite good for all of humankind, etc., etc. But like with cars, runners too need to follow some etiquette. And one of them is…do not run in trios or 4 together on a regular road with traffic, especially in the dark.

Having said this! All the best to those who are running next Sunday! Have a blast, enjoy yourself and for those who are still sitting on the fence…walk and have some fun. It is only once a year that you get to walk/run on the Bandra-Worli SeaLink anyway! 

12 Comments

  • H.L. Chulani wrote:

    Oh no- another blog on running. Even once a year is one too many!

  • Bhuvana Ramsay wrote:

    Good luck for next Sunday. Happy running.

  • Erik Ranschaert wrote:

    good running next Sunday Bhavin!!

  • V.Subramanian wrote:

    While running in groups,a competitive spirit
    takes over the individuals with each in the group trying to outrun the other.In a bid to avoid this, some seemingy matured groups run together often not realsing the bredth of the space they run or the inconvenience thay cause to others. It is the frever and jest that takes over, much like the devotees thronging to get a glimpse of their favourite diety on an auspicious day or time.Care has to be taken during the trial or practice runs.

  • Jayesh Desai wrote:

    We have this national characteristic of not looking beyond our noses. So Matheran with plastics, we throw things car windows, we push in temple, buses and trains. I Me and Mine is our motto so nothing surprising here. Have a good marathon.

  • Jayesh Desai wrote:

    Sorry we litter Matheran with plastics and throw things out of car windows.

  • What is this marathon for? what is the aim or effect on the citizens?

    Just publicity and time pass.

  • Chennai just had its Main Marathon last December. We did see a huge turn out, was told the second largest in India next to Mumbai.

    Post this event and many more such events in Chennai happening almost every alternative month, we have new groups mushrooming up at all parts of Chennai. I see Chennai is turning fit with close to 20 different location thousands are having their practice run 3-4 days a week.

    We do see at times in Chennai Marina, Bezi beaches during weekends we have such experiences as explained in this blog.

    Happy Running and Stay fit.
    Great to know that India is turning fit with events like Marathons, Triathlons, Ultras, etc..

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    This is good. The more people run the better it is. I did the Chennai half last Aug.

  • Ajay Bhonsle wrote:

    Are all Marathons run on the road worldwide or this phenomena unique to India? What are stadiums and playgrounds for? Training on the road either with the traffic or against it are both bad ideas with the runner at the risk of being hit by a vehicle from behind or meeting a headlong collision. Yes! running on the road (for a cause or otherwise) brings mileage and is good publicity-besides being a good ‘time pass’ for the bystanders!!

  • Rohit Gosalia wrote:

    1. Let any one say anything – minimu 1 article banta hi hai – in fact One more also needed to motivate.

    2. It is surprising to learn ignorance of our readers. Marathon in India is at infancy stage. Mumbai is some what at international level. At New York Full Marathon attracts almost 100000 applications and only 40000 get chance. Half Marathon is separate event with even more applications. All over world it is on road including Olympics. When you read questions/comments like this – we know why India is unable to progress in the world of Sports / Athletics. We are decades behind. Bhavin you are doing a great job – just ignore all negative responses – because they are in real sense ignorant and deserve pity more than anything else.

  • Ajay Bhonsle wrote:

    What I meant was-TRAINING for Marathons on the roads, as this is done along with vehicular traffic while an actual Marathon is run with the vehicular traffic diverted to other roads and the Marathon route kept clear (possibly with escorts accompanying on bikes etc). Although there is nothing wrong in it, sponsorship of such events is plain & simple publicity for the sponsor and mentioning this fact cannot be called a negative comment!

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