The Crowded Experience

Marg Marathon

I found out about a Marathon to be held on August 29th in the first week of August when I was running on Marina Beach and came across a group of people stretching under the instructions of a trainer. They used the sheets of the advertisement of the marathon when they had to lie down and stretch. There was a mix of people of all ages training.

I was eager to participate  but ever since a business trip to Mumbai in the second week of August, I have run only for 4 days. I felt my body was not fit enough to run the 21 km, half marathon and even doubted whether I could finish the 7-km run.

I finally registered on 28th August for the 7-km run and received a ‘Bib’ or the number. I was excited and nervous since this was my first time in a short long run since my school days.

D-day arrived and I didn’t plan in advance how to stick my number properly on my T-shirt. For first timers, I can give a tip. Pin all four corners of the bib on the Tshirt before you wear it. For persons who excessively sweat, it’s highly probable the bib comes off during the run.

I decided to walk to the starting point, which was around 2.5 – 3 km from my house. The walk was a good warm up and many people were walking towards the starting point of the marathon. I was quite surprised to see that thousands of people turn up for this event. With no organisers in sight, I followed the herd and reached the start point which was crowded with mainly talkative teenagers and kids and more solemn adults like me.

Kids jumped up and down or climbed on each other on the news that some of their favourite film stars were attending the flag off for the event.

I never actually heard the ‘Go’ and had to run along with crowd. A few guys tripped and fell on the road. After 2 kms, the crowd got thinner and there were the more serious runners. The casual runners were actually more intent on scrambling to the water points and collecting bottles of water, Gatorade or Nimbooz. I decided not to stop for a water point during the run. After all, a 7 km run was not such a big deal when I saw the number of people running.

Just as I never heard the ‘Go’, there was no definitive finish point but there was a stage on which the sponsors and celebrities stood for photo-ops and waiting for the final moments of the end of the half marathon.  I was happy that on the last 400 metres, I pushed myself hard to the finish near the stage.

On my walk back home, which was along the half marathon track, I cheered the half marathoners to complete their run.

What perturbed me was that people where throwing the bottles on the road after drinking from them. There was no feeling to keep the environment clean. Some teenagers even threw the bottles in the air which runners behind had to avoid. Worse still, the amateur/ pro athletes on the half marathon did the same, throwing their bottles on the road. What’s the point in having  a marathon that is held for a drive to donate to poor children when it destroys other values, of hygiene and compassion?

In the end it was a mixed experience. I was happy that I completed with the low level of preparation, sad about the littering, felt that the only respect was to be part of the 21 km run than a 7 km run and came away more determined to take part in the half marathon next year!!

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