Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Do I expect too much?

The Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon has spoilt me. It is so incredibly well organised that I have come to expect something close to perfection, and mismanagement like at the Airtel Delhi half-marathon leaves me feeling very very cheated. Sure the run had its highs, and in time, that is all that I will remember, but right now, the slight bitter feeling of being let down is what predominates.
Small things - each very small things on their own, but things that matter a lot in the larger scheme of things.
Like the plastic Airtel flags that were thrust into our hands as we entered the holding area. Did anybody seriously think that a runner would carry them for 21.097 kilometers and display them for the cameras? Some, like me, threw them into the nearest garbage bin, but many held onto them, and only discarded them en route. So 5 kilometers into the race, there was every chance that an unsuspecting runner would step on one of the plastic flags, skid, and end the race with a sprained ankle. Would it be too much to ask the event sponsors to not give out things that could be potentially dangerous to the participants of the longer race.
Water stations - there was one at the 1 kilometer mark, another at the 2 kilometer mark, and a third at the 3 kilometer mark. By the time you reached the 6 kilometer mark, you were lulled into a false sense of complacency - there would be water stations at every kilometer - and you threw aside the half finished water bottle you just grabbed. But guess what? Once you hit Rajpath, there were no water stations till the 10 kilometer mark. Mercifully the sun gods were kind, but if the sun had been as bright as it should have been, I shudder to think of running down that unshaded stretch without any water. Can the participants not be told of the location of the waterstation before or during the race?
The day before the race, I was talking about how the unsung heros of the Mumbai marathon were the BMC workers who ensured you never saw more than half a dozen discarded water bottles in one place. The same cannot be said for the helpers in Delhi - there were discarded water bottles all over the track, and I must have personally kicked over a hundred of them to the side so they would not hamper the participants coming after me. Perhaps that has something to do with the etiquette or lack of it in Delhi, but one could try to tell people to be a little more considerate, can't one?
But the worst was reserved for the end. Soon after reaching the 17 kilometer mark, we could hear peppy music blaring out on the public address system. It rejuvenated us at a time when we needed a shot in the arm, but only till we realised that the music heralded the participants of the Great Delhi Run. To call them a mob would be an understatement - they were an inconsiderate bunch, full of their own self-importance and thought nothing of stepping on your shoes from behind and pulling them off. People tired out from the longer run just did not have the energy to jostle with the participants of the shorter run, and most just stopped running, and started walking. How difficult can it be in a city like Delhi to have separate finish lines for the two runs? The half-marathoner seeks a special kind of thrill in finishing the race - do they not deserve a place to exult?
I do wish the organisers of the Delhi half-marathon learn from this experience, because the Delhi half is definitely a race I would love to run again and again.

And as I leave, here is a picture I took of the lead half-marathoners 39 minutes into the race - I was somewhere between the 5 and 6 kilometer marks at that point of time.


goenchi said...

Hey there,
Nice blog! Especially like your 'Monsoon Memories for Free'. And yes I clicked straight away on Bombay - okay Mumbai, and yes I'm homesick...


Mandira said...

Hey! Stumbled upon this via Facebook. Feel too bored working today!

Sounds quite like Daelhifolks! Did you actually go to Delhi just for the marathon? Wow!

Its one of the things I want to strike off sometime soon. Complete a marathon (actually participate in a marathon is more like it)

Natasha Ramarathnam said...

Thanks, Deepa. I am not surprised you are Bombay-sick. We moved to this city only in '98, and I so missed it the three years we were away.
Mandy - if you really want to run a marathon someday, I suggest you first start with a half. A full marathon can really dehydrate you, and knock you out for a whole month. Not sure if you can afford to take that much time off, so much better to do a half and decide if the thrill of a full is is worth the exponentially increased misery after.


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