Get Up and Run for the Collective “Whoosh”

It’s that time of the year again. Marathon time! Tomorrow!
As I write this, I have just emptied on my dining table, the Goodie bag from the organizers that comes along with the bib and timing chip.
I would have assumed that Marathon = Sports = Health = Healthy Living = Eating Right = Real and Proper Food. As a result, I am completely confused with the presence of these food items in the Goodie bag…Aliva crackers, Hippo round-round, Sunfeast elaichi cookies and choco cookies, Paneer Butter Masala ready to cook spice mix, and Pavbhaji masala. When did these become health(y) food?
I guess, while some of us idiots continue to naively believe in the ‘purity’ of a sporting event, it probably gets tougher and tougher for those organizing the event year after year after year, to resist the pull of the market!
But guess what! In the end, screw it! Even though it’s not OK, it is OK!
The Mumbai Marathon is still one of the few events in Mumbai that provides a collective “whoosh” experience to those participating. “All Things Shining” is a new book by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly that talks about how in a secular, nihilistic world of indecision like ours, devoid of the intensity of faith as in the olden days, we look at mass events like sporting occasions or music concerts for the collective “whoosh” of ecstasy.
And ecstasy it is. Whether you finish the half-marathon in under 2 hours or take 3 hours, or are still trudging in at 3 hours and 15 minutes, the sight of the finish line when you turn on to DN road, the final step that you take to cross it, the embrace of a fellow-runner, the high-fives, the clenched raised fist, the bending down with hands on your hips to catch your breath, the slow spread of the muscle-ache…all of these are worth this “once-a-year” experience. No amount of chasing cocaine or driving a car at 200 km/hr on the Expressway can compare. And since you only compete with yourself, even so-called losers (those who don’t finish in the time they thought they would) get to experience this “high”, the moment they cross the finish line.
So just like last year; if you have registered, but are having second thoughts, just junk them! Forget your timing issues, your weight gain, your lack of training, your self-doubts…just go out there and run. Hell, if you don’t want to run, just walk at the back of the pack…that’s OK as well!
I’ll repeat these words of mine from last year – ‘And yet in the end, it comes down to just one elemental issue. The simple act of running! Putting on a pair of shoes, with shorts or a track-suit and a T-shirt, without any fancy equipment, getting out into the open.pounding the ground, one foot after another, on and on, emptying your mind of all unnecessary thought, zen-like, focusing on just one goal – running.’
Addendum
This year, thanks to my colleague and friend Meher Ursekar, I am running for Ummeed (www.ummeed.org), an NGO that works in the field of developmental disabilities. Despite the fact that I am slow (now that I am over 45, I am classified as a ‘veteran’ runner), if you believe that supporting this effort of mine even with small amounts is worth it, do email me or get in touch with me. And if you can be around to cheer us as we pass by…well, what could be better!

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