Losing my virginity…(of the marathon running kind!)


January, 2018


#HalfMarathon, #UglySideOfRunning, #TataMumbaiMarathon


Last year somewhere around September ’17 I had decided to attempt the 21kms half marathon at the Tata Mumbai Marathon ’18. I have been working on my fitness for the last 2 years thanks to my boxing training and that has really helped me to up my cardio game.

Running 3-4 km has been a part of my routine for a while and I felt quite ready to tackle the 21kms milestone. I did not undertake any special training for this (I definitely did not want to turn into a marathon-nazi for this one) and just added 10 km runs once in 15 days as a part of my regular boxing training for the last two months. I must have done a total of 5-6 10 km runs before I stood at the starting line on the big day. Suffice it to say that, but for the last 4 km where my legs completely gave way, the first 15-16 km was a breeze and I enjoyed the run thoroughly.

Like every fantastic thing that happens, it’s rarely without it’s blemishes so here’s my 2 cents on the GOOD, the BAD & the UGLY of the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018.

I have been listening to my friends, colleagues and peers for years about their passion for running and wanted to figure out for myself what the whole fuss was about. I must say the whole experience was fantastic and I couldn’t have spent the day in a better way. Now that the run is behind me and I feel like a man who has conquered the world, I felt I must pen down a few of my thoughts on my experience yesterday. Like every fantastic thing that happens, it’s rarely without its blemishes so here’s my 2 cents on the good, the bad & the ugly of the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018.

The Good:

1) The arrangement – IMPECCABLE is the word. Not one runner felt wanting for more. Whether it was the checking in, the start of the process, the water stations, the volunteers on the streets, the energy foods provided, everything was top class. This proves to me that if we decide to do things right, we can achieve world-class efficiency in everything we do. A great example was of distribution of medals after the run. The process was smoother than a baby’s bottom. What started well, ended most fantastically.
2) The cheerleaders – You have to run the half marathon to see what Mumbaiites are capable of. I felt most of the non-running folks of Mumbai were down on the streets just to encourage and motivate the runners. From old folks to middle-aged ladies to young adults to kids, it was just amazing to see their excitement. Most of the times when you wanted to give up and walk, you would hear cheers from the crowd egging you on. From orange slices to plates of salt (I had a big pinch of that thinking it was powdered sugar and almost puked) to bags of glucose biscuits, pieces of chocolate…you name it. The best part was people standing with innovatively captioned placards. The best one declared “You run better than our government“!
3) The fellow runners – Inspiration. I saw an old lady dressed in a saree, an old man barely able to walk but still carrying on, and many other runners in various shapes and sizes. Some very fit with rippling muscles, some regular sized blokes like me and some on the plus size, the road welcomed all. Some took the efforts to dress up for a cause…I saw one man wearing a cap with leaves and a few folks with “Save Aarey “ slogans on their t-shirts. I felt every single runner on the road was inspiring every other runner to do his / her best.

The Bad:

I was shocked by the amount of littering that this crowd did. I swear to god there were enough and more garbage collectors placed by the organisers every 300-400 mts away and, inspite of that the roads were strewn with water bottles, juice cartons, tissue papers… Runners were eating pieces of oranges that were being generously distributed by the volunteering crowd but they were being spat on the road post chewing. Runners were eating biscuits and throwing away half-eaten bits on the road… I seriously wonder if the running crowd feels a sense of entitlement in littering the roads like this. It’s almost as if they think that by running the marathon they are doing the city a favour and that gives them the right to litter away. I was disgusted by this act and actually got angrier as the run progressed. And the littering that happened after the run was over warrants another blog altogether. Why do we not notice dustbins that are right under our noses?

The Ugly:

I actually wanted to call the above heading “disgusting”… Most of the crowd running the half marathon had to get down near the Doordarshan tower at Worli and had to walk the distance to Worli dairy which was the starting point for the run. I saw hordes of men peeing under flyovers, at the entrance of chawls, on the door sides of houses facing the roads (the poor residents would have woken up to such a stench in the morning) and all of this was happening right under the noses of fellow lady runners who were walking by… The worst was yet to come though. The run started off from Worli dairy and moved towards the Bandra Sealink. After crossing the sea link the route turns back on the sea link towards Worli back and here is where I was shocked. I saw at least 50 men all lined up on a spot on the sea link and peeing right there! They were jumping across the hurdle and doing it right there… I just didn’t know what to say. I felt if the ladies could hold it until the next stationed toilet, what was wrong with these men? As I was running, I was thinking what right do we have to blame slum dwellers who dirty the roads with their ablutions when I saw “I have it all” folks letting go right on the road… Maybe it’s that weird sense of running entitlement… I was thinking of the photograph that Twinkle Khanna had uploaded of a man shitting on Juhu beach humiliating him… What is the difference between this crowd and him?

All in all, I personally enjoyed my run, but for the few incidents of littering and dirtying that pissed me off. Will I run again next year? Hell yeah! But I do hope that this blog gets shared by all of you who read it so that next year we will see conscientious runners who will make it a point to not abuse their freedom of the road.

Until next year then, happy training!