The Great Marathon Divide and Other Stray Thoughts

1. Mumbai’s class divide: This was never more apparent than when you looked at the people who came out of their houses to cheer us during last week’s marathon.
When running through the middle class area around Lilavati Hospital leading to the Bandra Sealink or along the northern part of Worli Seaface till where it meets Annie Besant Road, there was hardly anyone who had bothered to line up along the roads. However, all along the Seaface as we U-turned southwards, outside all the upmarket buildings along Peddar Road and Babulnath and along the residential parts of Marine Drive, the local residents were out in droves, cheering, egging us along, sometimes full families together, handing out water, biscuits and sweets.
And of all of them, the Peddar road residents rocked! They were the most enthusiastic this year as last year and it felt really good to hear their encouraging shouts and words, especially during the difficult uphill inclines.
I do not want to speculate on the reasons why different localities behave differently, but it seems to have to do with the class of the locality, whether middle or upper and rich. Perhaps our sociologists and psychologists can shed more light on this!

2. Bandra-Worli Sealink: This was a great experience for all us half-marathoners. Running with the sunrise on our left was fantastic. Sure, there was no water available on the Sealink, but this only affected the marathoners who came much later.
3. Electrolytes: There should be more stalls or kiosks along the route, handing out electrolytes. Water was and is never a problem; in fact there is a lot of wastage as runners take one sip and throw half-full bottles on the road. But in the hot sun, when you also need to replace salt and sugar, it would be great to have slightly better access to Electral or similar powders or drinks.
4. Crowd control: Once the elite marathoners started reaching the finish line, the volunteers, policemen and those controlling the crowds seemed to lose interest. All across Marine Drive upto the finish line at CST, visitors and perhaps tourists, would often walk onto the road, coming in our way and making us break our stride. For those of you who somehow find the pavements of Marine Drive too small to walk on, please do this during peak traffic on working days!
5. Commentators: We can really do without idiot runners like the full-marathoner, who looked across at a 60-plus-year old woman running the half-marathon next to me and said “Aunty, this is a running race, not a walking race!” Go @7&# yourself!
6. The Drudge kilometers: For half-marathoners, the drudgery starts once you take the left from Babulnath onto Chowpatty, past Wilson college, with only 4-5 kms left. It is hot, the road is hard and your mind starts telling you that it’s not really worth the effort. This is the time when we need the most encouragement and cheering and unfortunately, once you are past the Girgaum Chowpatty junction, there is nobody on the road all the way upto the end of the Gymkhanas. This stretch is really, really, really, the toughest!
Having said all this, this year’s run was far more enjoyable than last year’s, despite being 20 minutes slower. I ran/walked, stopped if something interesting was going on, took great photographs on the Sealink, didn’t freeze up at the end of the run and had no injuries. All of which is enough incentive to run next year as well!

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