Friday, January 2, 2009

No Clenched Fist

The other day, I got a mailer from the organizers of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, which ended with -
‘No closed fists. No angry rage.
Just the open road and the will to finish.’
My sentiments exactly!
Others who presumably received the same mailer did not quite agree. More than one columnist has written about how Bombay should channel all its anger and negative energy into the Mumbai marathon. But to what purpose? Will the government become more proactive when it comes to tackling terror just because a couple of thousand people run a race that they signed up for months before the Terror Attacks?
One guest columnist has written about how in the aftermath of the Terror Attacks, he has been able to increase the distance he is able to cover from three kilometers to seven. He may attribute it to the anger he feels against the terrorists, but I know that without any such motivation, I was able to up my performance by roughly the same level last year.

The Mumbai Marathon is now an institution- an institution that celebrates the growing fitness culture among Bombayites, an institution that has got people who would otherwise never have run running. That many of the runners also care about the country they live in and would like to make a difference is incidental- the main reason why runners run is because they have discovered that they love running. And to try and put a political agenda to it merely cheapens the whole thing.

Just last week, we heard about how a swimming champion, Vinod Ghadge, got enmeshed in fishing nets and drowned in the open seas while paying homage to the victims of the Terror Attacks. A pointless death, in my opinion. The victims of the Terror Attacks know that the nation is with them. Would one man utterly unconnected with the Terror Attacks swimming from Raigarh to Bombay alleviate their pain in any way. If he was hoping to raise money from the swim and donate it to the victims, it may have been of some use, but that did not seem to have been his intention. Then why undertake the swim at all, unless he hopped onto the ‘homage bandwagon’ in order to get some additional publicity?

I am glad the Mumbai Marathon is rising above that. If things going as planned, it would be my privilege to join thousands of others on 18th January, as ‘Mumbai runs to secure its future.


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