endurathon 2015 : blog of a volunteer

Endurathon 2015 ( 25k/12.5k)

Disclaimer and explanatory advance apologies:

The aims of this blog can be

  1. To have some sort of chronicle which may be useful from future point of view

(maybe in 2020 one can look back and see the event from a different perspective ).

 

  1. To cover the huge task on the d-day.
  2. To share the happenings with all the volunteers who may not be present at various places during the whole event as a lot of the duties were location specific and many of us may never come to know what might have happened at different locations.
  3. And most important to bore all my friends who out of sheer friendship protocol read and zelofy ( fully or partially ) my blogs. (Few of them may not read but still give an impression that they have read the same. In that case please continue the false show  as kabhi kabhi sach pata na chale usimein zyada sukoon milta hai ).This becomes more important as my blogs are not very matter specific, or not necessarily  very focused on the core subject. They drift here and there as they are more life specific. The life which may be happening during those  “present” moments. One observes and if able to recollect ,writes.

 

 

At the same time this is an individual’s account and it is not a commissioned project. Some personal observations are bound to come which may not  be “ all  pleasing “. I may forget few names or incidents , the shortcoming/s in those case/s is/are only mine.

 

Prelude:

I am off running since quite sometime. The whole time frame till now has it’s own frustrating phases. There were days when “ running as a subject “ made me more sad. “NOT ABLE TO RUN” can be full of grief, was a new  shocking discovery to me.

Earlier I could write Poetry on” running” . Soon I found myself attempting poems on “ NOT ABLE TO RUN “.

On the other hand in all my traveling I could see runners even from distance and even at odd hours. At times even went ahead and interacted them .

It was like those montage songs in Hindi films where protagonist is missing his/her love and there are  pangs of separation felt . ( in filmi language  ek sad song bhi dal do vali situation )

Whereas at times I could not keep the pace ( and in turn keep the inner peace in equilibrium ) with all my dear friends’ news and happenings who are into regular running and achieving smaller and bigger milestones.

Endurathon 2015 is a ghar ka event. For a BNP GR runner it’s the biggest event and this time it is  getting much bigger. Unfortunately due to my increased traveling and not being into contemporary world of running , remained cut off from hectic as well as herculean tasks being carried out .  At one level many of us were busy with typical life’s pull and push , wherein Anant sir, Shashiji, Maheshbhai, Punit,Pramodbhai were working sincerely for the event which was slowly becoming larger than life event.

The first meeting of leads :28 th June 2015

I am late for the first meeting of “ Leads briefing”. I am not running like many of my friends who will directly reach the garden ,

post running.

There is huge Sunday crowd and buying the ticket in normal way  is going to make my entry so late that it will be like  reaching  cinema  post interval   .

I request one family traveling in car to buy one tick for me and once I am through, I rush to the venue and offer mass apology.

Anant sir is doing the briefing. He is not well so he requests Maheshbhai to take over.

Facilitation of 12.5 KM participants is the duty of my team. Anita and  Ashish are fellow volunteers. The Job description sounds too simple

  1. This is a time specific duty
  2. Guide all incoming participants towards hold up area.
  3. Hand over the bibs to outstation runners.
  4. Welcome and if required escorts the VIPs.

Post briefing I join Maheshbhai , Punit , Nileshbhai , Sridhar,Shreyas on walky-talky  trials.

Punit positions himself with one set at start near water cooler station. I am dropped at the base of Gandhi tekdi and Maheshbhai, Nileshbhai , Shreyas ,Srishar drive towards 2.5 km mark and beyond.

Punit and myself are able to converse. Unlike two way mobile phones this is one way communication . We try with “ over” /over and out “ at the end of sentence. We even try  to use the phrase “ running matters “ at the end of every sentence rather than over/over and out . The experiment is termed unsatisfactory when walky talky does not work beyond 1.5 km mark. Punit and myself complete the morning meeting with sumptuous marathi breakfast at “ The Tambe’s “.

All BNP GR volunteers group meeting:

Sunday:5 th July 2015

I have just dropped Riva at SAI complex for her gymnastic class and rushing towards 9.25 am entry at BNP. Sheila is in Pune since Friday as she is with  her Engineering college friends for  a 3 days get-together.

At the entry I meet Vishwasji and Leenaji . We all walk towards a crowded entry gate and wonder whether we will have to pay Rs 40 for the entry fee just to attend today’s meet.

Punit ,the trouble shooter is  there and he resolves the three level scrutiny filter so that we all volunteers are allowed to go in .

It looks like that soon “ Bhai ka naam lene ka “ may become our ticket to this heaven ( BNP in monsoon ) .

The tent area is quite far. It is by no means five minutes walk as the meeting is scheduled to start by 9.30 and large no  of volunteers have just moved in. On the way we have little debate on ever increasing entry rates  of BNP. The arguments for higher rates are typical a) green needs protection b) when we can spend huge amount in malls , why not for nature c) to tactically avoid too much janta which can harm the nature.

The argument to keep lower rates are a) keep vehicle rates very very high b) keep individual entry low/reasonable as there are hardly any green spaces left c) green should not become one more luxury only meant for the rich.

 

The venue

At the tent I meet a lot of friends after a long gap. I have that feeling of “ ghar vaapsi “.

My typical style of jadu ki zappi invites an interesting comment by Punit.

Anant sir welcomes  every one and explains the whole lot of challenges and the minute preparations  which have gone to make the event memorable. Sanjay Raut  poses  the same old challenge to Anant sir

“ Sir please speak in Hindi ! “ Anant sir smiles and starts again with little Hindi and soon switches over to more natural English.

He invites frank assessment from every individual to further improve  various ideas and schemes .

Maheshbhai reminds every one to be polite and courteous to all the regular morning walkers.

Shashiji like family head adds the emotional touch . “ This is our ghar ka event “

“We are host and we shall not fail in our hospitality.”  Unlike his fellow TamBrahm senior Anant Sir, he speaks in Shudh Hindi.

I have to rush back as I have to pick up Riva  and soon handle  the schedule of both the daughters. While leaving I  request Anita to get the individual brief and confirmation on our group’s duties .

Friday 17 th July 2015

Pradeep stops his bike in front of me  at the entry of BNP gate. He is with his helmet which he removes and I see the fastest comrade runner of our group.

I am meeting him after a time gap.

This guy is different !  {At the end of Bangalore ultra he had puked and suddenly started chain of activities  in the  medical tent. I was lying down cursing my stiff body and on the edge/s cramps post 50 km  where as he had just completed his Podium finish with much more kilometer than what I had done  . He had just moved in the medical tent  as some one who was on a courtesy visit rather than somebody needing urgent medical attention. Within no time he was normal with his trade mark “ smiling and laughing .“ The ever cool guy. }

I want to know more about his preparedness for  comrade from time management point of view. He is a businessman , a doting father , caring husband and devoted family man. How did he manage his priorities.

He explains a lot of things . The most striking parts  are “ Your mind becomes very sharp and focused during that period. You have already given target to your mind and body. Whatever decisions you have to take in day to day business dealings have  to be  quick , inherently irreversible and there are no second chances for course  corrections .  who has time for that ,You just do not have time. At times your day starts at 3.00 am in the morning and goes on till 10.30/11 pm. One automatically becomes expert in time management and time squeezing techniques are fast self learnt.

I hug him and move on.

At the main counter Paras, Kashmira, Priya ,   are holding the fort. Maheshbhai and Punit are in and out and also liasioning with BNP officials. Shashiji is sitting with Rigved of Y2CR on one side and they are working on laptop . There are  a hell lot of issues they are engrossed in. Ankur has brought home made mouth watering  halva. Vishwasji  and Sree are coordinating and helping the trio managing the desks. Young team members….master Akhil Raut, Mihir, Arsalan are on toes ,waiting to get next set of instructions from Maheshbhai and Punit. Dr Sachin Thakar is also around. He brings the comic relief to the gathering. Maheshbhai tells me that he has got the report from Kolkata.

Last week I was in Kolkata and had chance to spend some time  in the evening with Taposhda , Maheshbhai’s partner .

I had described Maheshbhai’s condition during  last year’s endurathon 2014 to Taposhda.  In early morning at 4 am at BNP tents he was pacing up and down and I had worked out the apt description for him “ Father of bride !  “

In typically Indian scenario the biggest project for any Indian father is the marriage of his lovely daughter . The kind of roller coaster ride father takes during the marriage zone is amazing.

During the brief talk I also realize ( reading between the lines as Taposhda is not specific ) how much efforts Maheshbhai is putting in the event and in turn his whole team from Mumbai to Kolkata to Tirupur: every one gets involved.

When we meet any volunteer who due to some reason has not collected his or her  BIB and complains during the race day  “ hey where is my BIB? “ She/He  may not know what kind of efforts go into arranging all the stuff.

The Dry fit fabric for T shirt comes  all the way from Ludhiana. Taposhda is at receiving end as he has to push the manufacturer to meet the deadline and yes this is not a business deadline…this is for BNP Tees. The fabric is shipped all the way to Tirupur. The designing and this time it is with Individual name ( aur khao ganne : my favorite joke on project management )  is to be coordinated with Pramodbhai  so that Tees are ready in time.

This is a just one aspect of the race .Just imagine the overall spectrum.

We depart by fixing 9 pm as time to again meet at BNP tents. tonight many of us are going to stay inside the BNP.

 

Special Note :It’s only  Today that  I  have come  to know  about Anant sir’s absence . He will not be there for the event as he has lost his Uncle and he is away . ( he has put in a lot in last so many months of preparedness ) I was off the whatsapp and also not in the loop so I missed  on this .

 

17 th July , Fridat Night BNP

I try  in vain to contact Maheshbhai as I am late. Its obvious  he is extremely busy. I zoom pass main gate on my activa. Last time I was fortunate as Ankur had  willingly given his bike ( and of course petrol ) which I had used non stop post my prime duties.

This time I need a fast moving small vehicle inside the BNP.

When I reach the tent few young volunteers and two outstation runners are already in the dormitory tent.

I greet Arsalan, Rishi, Akhil, Mihir, Vinit. This is young energetic team. I ask Arsalan the meaning of his name. Next day is Ramzan Eid and this guy wants to give his best to BNP Gr’s ghar ka apna event.

Kaabile-taarif !! Later I come to know that he is also a fast runner.

The two out station runners are from Tirupur. Mr Mohan is able to converse in English and with  Mr Ganesh my talk remains restricted to vannakkam and seri –seri

Guess how Mr Mohan landed in BNP to do his first formal marathon race ????

He was running his normal fitness run in one of the Tirupur ground and poor man had to meet Our super boss Mr Mahesh ( who was on his business tour but running keeda made him do some few rounds of local ground ). Soon both started running together and magic ……before he realized he landed in Mumbai for his first official long distance Marathon.

Sanjay ( padmanabahan ) and Ajit join the night party . We soon talk on technology driving the  E – commerce and E – retail. Cisco man also gives insight into Queue management system which he has seen in USA.  Technologies and changing Times are explained to me.

Anand ( mayekar ) and his friend Pankaj Patil also join.They are part of our sharp shooters team ( photography )

Maheshbhai comes late , with him comes in his fellow veteran comrade runner  Dr Ajit Oak sir. He looks fine so I greet him and asks his permission to give us time tonight. { Last time he was not well and also too tired. We had two AC cottages. Seeing his condition , he was shifted to other cottage so that we could continue our work on medals till late night }

I go with Maheshbhai to his Innova to understand and take over the boxes of outstation bibs .  The Local BIBs (those which were not collected ) along with outstation ones  need to be  distributed .Soon mehfil starts . Dr Oak, Anand, his friend Pankaj and myself sit at one corner and the gyan ganga follows. Dr Oak is in good mood. Even though he is fasting throughout  the shravan months as well as adhik mass ( as per hindu calendar one extra month ) he feels fresh .

He takes us  down memory lane. His school days  with humble background . His runs from Sion hospital till Dadar TT during MBBS days and break in running  during MD and establishment days.

His Matheran runs are truly inspiring . I make a mental note to run  at least once with him in Matheran during 2016 ( god willing ).

He wants to do 10 comrades. He has already run many marathons in India as well in  Berlin , Singapore and Hong kong.

He has even run pathetic ( by and large general opinion )  Pune marathon and still runs the same . He finds it full of adventure as organizer keep failing in their basic arrangements and duties .

He is extremely humble. There not even  an iota of self praise or “ I have arrived “ kind of false aura which  we find in many of the experienced  runners.

And yes he has serious health issues. His back is not helping him .

Anand is clearing a  lot of his doubts on running . I think Anand is lucky as they both stay in Kalyan-Dombivli area. He can definitely run with Dr saheb. Anand is even invited by Dr Oak to join Dombivli group  coached by Mr. Suhas.

It’s already 1.30 and Doctor saheb is as  fresh as  a lily . He wants to continue but I start feeling guilty. He has to run the race tomorrow. We decide to formally wish  Good Night to each other.

4 AM  :Saturday 18 th July 2015

 

I am up and start getting ready .  We have a common bathroom facility . Last time we had AC cottages with attached bathrooms. This time we have two dormitories :one is used by outside vendors and one by BNP GR.

4.40 and my mobile rings . Sheila is at the gate with her team and team lead Nileshbhai. They all are at gate and want to come in .

I am out and tell Maheshbhai that I am rushing to the gate.

At the gate there are whole lot of volunteers and even some runners. Nileshbhai’s group is waiting outside since 4:35/4.40 am .

This time at least they are in within the main gate. Last time ‘s visual of Shashiji holding the steel bars/rods of small gate comes flashing in front of my eyes . “ ae bhaee koi to darvaza kholo : it was typical dilipkumar kind of moment .

The entry guards need “ BHAI “ .( basically one of the bhai ……one is inside with us and one is coming from outside ) Soon Maheshbhai comes and volunteers are allowed to move in but only around 5.00 am .Vehicles still have issues . With volunteers even the early runners try to move in.

We politely request the runners to hold their horses. In my team only Ashish is available . Anita ‘s duty point was shifted last night and Punit as well as Anita had informed me the same. Fortunately Savio is with me . He and his team Nareshji and Smitaji are assigned the facilitation of 25 km participants.

I decide to merge my team with Savio’s. Soon we are at the main arch entry where second clock is located. There are no tables. Previous evening Shashiji had briefed me about the latest changes  a) only one gate will be opened as authorities have decided not to have two entries. b) we will have two rows of tables facing each other : one  side to handle  25 km and the other side 12.5 k.

I rush to baggage counter side . There are tables but all joined together. The baggage team for 12.5 is comprising of Divya, Aneesha, Rishi and Naresh.

There is obvious sweet protest to my attempts to lift the tables . No jugaad at the cost of friends’ inconvenience .

Savio and I decide to start our dukkan without any tables. We arrange the boxes of T shirts and keep the Bibs bags in our hands. There is hardly any time as our esteem runner  guests  have started coming.

Shashiji comes on Activa and inquires  “where are the tables??” We both exchange the looks and laugh together : the unsaid communication to each other is simple :improvise and manage. He moves on .

Nareshji gets bit irritated with my delayed  efforts in taking out Bib for one runner. He knows that within different plastic folders different series are prearranged. I give my pen ( only pen which our merged group has: I always carry a pen and small diary to jot down any trigger /idea for one more attempt which can help me to write something )and the lists to them and move on in welcoming the inflow of guests. Anand ( gotad ) has requested his friends to come as volunteers and I request him to assign one of his friend in  this zone . His friend ( name ? ) stays with me and handles the incoming runners from one side. He remains till the very end.

I keep moving to and fro, go towards large group. Within few seconds of every encounter I try to greet them , guide them to  their destination , explained them about our arrangement at baggage counter and tell them about ample arrangement of portable loos on the way. All this talk has to be carried out when most of them are still moving . Soon I realize that  “whos who “of Mumbai runners are going to run today’s marathon. Around 1270 runners have registered for the event. (in the end  and around 999 runners give us chance to serve them during the even )

Heath Matthew comes with his team .Almost 10 runners from KDAH are running today’s event. I greet them and ask him about Big Boss Mr Ambani.

There is an obvious desire in many of us to have Mr Ambani with us. If he blesses this event it will be a great motivation for all of us. Heath informs that yes he is running , but his area remains within SOBO.

Looks like the only heaven in Mumbai limit may have to wait longer for Mr Ambani to come and experience the same.

Soon 12.5 km guest runners start coming in . Ashutosh , the immediate physio  under Heath who is treating me comes with his friends. Our job is to direct them to hold up area for 12.5 km.

25 km are requested to proceed straight till 500 m mark which is near to the start point. 12.5 km group has to take little U turn and remain till 6.10 am in the area between ticket window and  water station. It’s still very dark. I requests Ashish to move little towards cycle stand so that he can work with hold up area team for the U turn coordination.

I am bit annoyed with myself as I have not interacted with team responsible for the hold up area. I request Nareshji and Savio to hold the fort and have the rounds of baggage counter of 12.5 km and hold up area. There are solar lanterns being used which make the job little easier for my friends. 12.5 km hold up area is handled by mr……………………………………..

Ashish, Govind Pawaskar ,Anand ( gotad ) are at important junction to guide 12.5 km runner guests towards the hold up area.

I come back quickly to the welcome zone. There are more 12.5 km ones than 25 km ones. It’s already 5.45 am . We have to request those who are just coming in to rush towards start line. May be little warm up jog will help.

I call up Aneesha at baggage counter . “ what is the status at start line?” She has to confirm as she is little away from the starting zone .

I call up Punit. In the given pressing environment ,  he is the person who somehow manages to receive my  call .  He guides me to wait till 6.10 and than allow 12.5 runners to move further.

It seems there is little delay at start line. Soon we get signal to allow 12.5 runners to leave the hold up are and move towards starting position. We request every one at hold up area and U turn junction guys to move towards main base station ( medical+main baggage+huge breakfast area+prize distribution area+ water and enerzal area ) which is arranged at 500 metre mark ground on left. They have to meet Punit or Maheshbhai Or Shashiji and get new assignments.

All the lanterns are collected carefully  as there are not our property.

Still there are some runners who are just entering BNP gates. We request them to rush towards start line. We are soon  informed about 12.5 km race flag off .

Savio suggests “ let’s  slowly gather our spread out paraphernalia.

A  young lady still busy on phone comes with 12.5 km Bib. We get worried. She still has 500 m to walk/jog to reach the start point.

My worry as a runner surpasses her worries and I take the Activa and offer her to drop at the start point.

As we are on Activa she is still talking on phone. Even if she is worried , she does not show any visible signs . I drop her near the start point and come back. The feeling of helping fellow runner is yet to “ sink in “ and we see two young male runners rushing in from main BNP gate.

Now as if on auto self  signal I jump on my Activa 2 wheeler and tell both of them to sit behind and we all go triple seat all the way to star  from point.

When I am back I try to coordinate with Maheshbhai for his/or his innova’s service to pick up all the remaining boxes of Tees and few of the bibs.

Maheshbhai ‘s first priority is to help 12.5 baggage counter. His first round is to pick up belongings of 12.5 runners and deliver the same  main baggage counter.

Nareshbhai volunteers  to bring water as we all are thirsty. He goes out and buys water from outside.

We load the Innova  and officially close our facilitation duty. Savio puts in little extra efforts to clean the little litter which our activity has generated.

I park the activaa in the parking area and move towards base station.

At main baggage counter Deven Rajgor, Lalita, Geeta, Hitesh and Vaishali are very busy as they have just received 12.5 km stuff and they have to efficiently arrange overall lot so that return of individual belongings remains hassle free.

Sree looks worried and on inquiry tells me the main lady of Trinaynee is at main gate and her 4 wheeler is not allowed in . She is carrying stools which need to be moved in . Sree is trying to contact Maheshbhai. We are soon on 2 wheeler and I drop Sree at the main gate. Sree soon realizes that I am not the “ Bhai” who can do wonders at the main gate to allow vehicle to move in before 7.30 am.

Sree is able to communicate with the lady in vehicle so that her phone stops ringing. When I ride back I see Maheshbhai moving in his Innova towards the main gate.

At the start point the race result committee comprising of bigwigs like Dan sir, Sunilji and Sangeetaji are monitoring the event and there is the start water station smartly  managed by Kashmira, Paras, Revathi S, Nitin and Sheela

Sharp shooters team ( all the ace photographers ) of the day………I see Rupal  the start point . All others are positioned at various  locations :Ashokji ( someshwar ) , Anand ( m) , and his friend Pankaj Patil ,Chetan , Shanky and yes Omni present –ever smiling Indy Jadhav ( Indy ke bina daudana adhoora so lagta hai !!)

The start and end  mat area remains bit congested due to  already  narrow road width of BNP road stretch.

Dhanraj joins me on my activaa as we move on . I have to again report to Shashiji at 7.40 in case the programme to  welcome and escort Shekharji requires more volunteers.

Our first stop is at Teen Murti. The water station is managed by Anita Shetty ( she remained volunteer for 12.5 k facilitation only on paper as she was required at Teen Murti )  Deepa M, Leena, Nutan, Alpa, Vinod Jain, Rajashree, Falguni, Krishang with Vishwas as Team leader.

Shanky is the sharp shooter . Our arrival there coincides with sudden rush of runners . Shanky tells us to help as there seems to be shortage of volunteers for this kind of sudden rush. Dhanraj and myself join the group for that short duration.  “Water, enerzal, water , enerzal” are sweet sounds.

Chikki seems to be fast moving item. Water sprays are real cool ones.

Post rush , we ride the 2 wheeler and move on.

As we reach 2.5 km mark , we see the super activities. Ajita Kale, Sanjay Panchal,Arsalan ,Jogesh P, and Sheila Sharda Harani are at this water station . Nileshbhai is the lead. Nileshbhai for this job is sincerity personified. He had called one special review meeting of his group to work out strategy and fine tuning. Today also his team was there much before the gate were thrown open. There is smooth work distribution. Two of the group members are filling the glasses. Two to three are serving water and enerzal. Others are serving sweets, water spray. In between some one tries to give water as well as enerzal . There is immediate a course   correction by Nileshbhai . “ do not mix up! If you are serving water please serve only water”

We move on as the sounds of “ water , enerzal, water, enerzal , chikki, fade away. On the way we keep cheering the runners. Our cheering becomes louder when we pass by a known face or when we see Pacers.

Pacer team is strong one with Vinod Nalumakkal ( 12.5 K), Pradeep K  (12.5K- 70 mins bus ), Golay Roshan ( 25K), Deepa K. ( 25K)Venkat Sir (25 K) bus, Kevin (P ) sir, Unmesh .( Roshan had come very early in the morning and had to wait for Pradeep where as  Nitin K. had just recovered from illness. )

At 4.5 km Kamalji is leading again a relatively a small group comprising of Vijayji ,Shailja ji , Upendraji and Revathiji . This is an important water station before the Kanheri hills . It is obvious that Monkey management must be part of their duties.

As we ride uphill towards Kanheri hills we see our Hill motivators. Ankur, Bhupendra, Ajit, Aadesh, all are strategically placed to take care of tough curves of Kanheri hills. Hill motivators is one of the brilliant idea which has made BNP endurathon very unique.

At main water station we meet Priya, Sanjay P, Suvendu, Rekha, Nutan and Ajay. This is like Siachen posting. (…. obviously in lighter sense and in jest  ) Tough  as you are at far end. More tough as you are in company of loads of monkeys : jo apne ghar ke badshah hai ! On top of it there is no communication with base.  You have to leave early to reach here well in time and you can only call off your duty till the time last runner leaves your zone. ( and who is going to communicate that last batch of runners have just left their zone ??? ) At the fag end you have to manage yourself to come back to base station .  {Indeed in the end few of them have to come back walking/running as a) most of the friends with car  were too tired/lethargic to drive up to kanheri . b)the centre of gravity of work  spectrum starts concentrating at the base station as prize distribution reaches to it’s peak and no one actually excited to find out what is happening at kanheri }

Monkeys have already completed their work . They have taken away good amount of bananas and even packet/s of chikkis.

Suvendu says “ now monkeys have moved on as they have completed their spell on us ! “

the enfield  bikers Sanjay (R ) and Vaibhav are the escorts/pilots  to the elite runners  ( later I believe they might be involved in  coordination and communication when refills are needed at water stations .)

 

We ride back cheering runners, known faces and pacers. Every station has now started feeling need for refills . chikkis are officially exhausted. water and enerzal are being replenished. We meet Punit couple of times on his  motorcycle taking rounds and assessment of the situation.  { Punit apart from various  multi activities is also the  main coordinator for food and mandap services . This time water is arranged by him directly and not through the caterer ( which adds to more coordination )} At one place we see Nileshbhai driving his car in hurry to get water for his station. Later he tells me “ lifting  and transporting the 20 litre water bottles have  given a good exercise to his back. “

 

Back at start cum end point , Dhanraj  gets down . Nitesh Mohite ( the ever helpful , ever concerned driver of Anant sir ) is on duty even when Anant sir is away. He has Ice box near him and looking for some transportation . He sits ulta holding the ice box in his hand and we ride up towards Gandhi tekdi. One has to be careful here as there are runners coming up and down, there are morning walkers who find  Gandhi tekdi more accessible than kanheri and road width is narrow. While riding the Activa the first preference has to be given to runners.

The Gandhi tekdi hill motivators are on the job. Siddhi, Sonal, Girish and Amogh are going up and down effortlessly as if they are on some pleasure jogs. The smile on the faces of Hill Motivators must be having magical effect on  the tired runners. !

We keep cheering every one and especially runners returning  back from top get special wishes :” 2 hills down, great going!!”

At top the ice box is given to Arjun ( the prince of BNP ).( he is one cool guy who can narrate you an emotional story without showing an iota of pain. His Post Bangalore ultra dosti wali daastan at airport involving  father son relationship   still remains vivid in my eyes. He is leading a super efficient team of  Mangeshji &  Surekhaji ( Dixits), Mahendra & Vandita Naik, Unni sir, Avjit Sen

I return back to base station area. Have tea and move around. There is steady flow of race finishers in the area. At medical tent they want arrangement for dedicated ORS. I go to kitchen area , get hold of one of the help . One water dispenser is filled with water and enerzal is mixed. I deliver the same with two glasses to the medical tent.  Runners have started taking their food and are eating in large spread out area. Seeing this we feel need of more dustbins .We managed to make three more dustbins.( steel drums with garbage bags ) The maids working in the area want more garbage bags which are arranged and given to them. Most of the runners ( the early ones ) look quite happy with their performance. I greet Heath sir and ask him about his performance as well as our performance as team of volunteers. He appreciates efforts and gives some valuable tips when specifically asked.

  1. Greet all the runners who are approaching the base station, ask them about their run, guide them to medicals and refreshment area.( add that human touch )
  2. We must have proper post run stretching regime/structure where in most of the runners are by default guided to post run stretching .  For that even KDAH team must also come up with proper plan. Some good posters on stretching can be put up.

Taking the immediate cue I start interacting with different runners.

I am able to interact  with more than 30 runners groups and even ask every one individually to  give some tips to improve our services. Most of them are already happy  with BNP GR s hospitality and their own performance ( BNP route is a tough one ) Few of them sweetly complain about excellent breakfast arrangement …..are yaar thoda healthy khila dete….all this  is really tempting. One small group wants to know “ what about rains?? “  you BNP walas have arranged everything so beautifully …thodi baarish bhi karva dete ! “

 

BNP volunteers are still in high enthu . I find Sree actually serving breakfast to runner who is having massage at trinayanee and requests her to help him with some bites.

I have one more round on activaa . This time Rupal joins me and we go all the way to Kanheri and come back. At kanheri we find kanheri team has  already started the cleanliness drive. At kanheri and even at 2.5km our BNP GR ‘s dedication is clearly seen as people have spent their own money to buy  bananas , cucumber when stocks have finished. There is a shortage of Pain relief spray. Food packets for volunteers have reached at some of the station , Kanheri is yet to receive the nasta packets and later it is reported that Gandhi tekdi could not receive the food packets .

We are cheering the runners as Hill conquerors  .As we move back we try to find who amongst the runner/s is part of last lot.

At base station I have  also join many for my late breakfast. It’s a sumptuous  breakfast. Upma, dhokla, jalebi, batata vada along with unlimited supply of chhas ( buttermilk ) , enerzal and water. What else one needs at the end of a race??

As I am eating friends come and inquire about my  “not running” and  the injury .  Pradeep, Deepa and Supriya want to know about my treatment related Plantar Fasciitis . They have some  minor pain related issues.  All I am able to share  from my experience is :some pains are  kind of  reversible and some reach to  chronic stage. Mine is more stubborn even when I am on a slow recovery path.  Today is not lucky for every one. Avani has completed one loop and has decided to quit as she has upper back/shoulder pain.

Soon it’s prize distribution time . Initially Shashiji starts the 12.5 km prizes. He is helped by Paras , Hiteshbhai . The race result committee is still busy at Start/End point . Soon Dan sir, Sunilji ,Sangeetaji along with core team members of BNP are called in and they all are together. Shekharji ( Shekhar Bajaj ) addresses every one with his interesting and short speech. He fully endorses  the word endurathon from his own experience of  his Car trip inside BNP ( he had that typical feeling of the first timer “ abhi aur kitna baaki hai ? “  )

I am with Hiren and come to know about his latest venture. I have a lot to ask which he tries to explain , but we both realize “ this is not the place “

I have called Sheila at 2.5 km and informed about the prize distribution. I decide to again go back and check the latest position.

As I move pass Trimurti I see most of the winding up is over and they are waiting for one or two of last remaining runners. 2.5 km water station is almost packed up and most of them have left. Pick up is not available for every one so I give lift to Govind and his colleague .

Shreyas takes his car till 4.5 mark to bring our volunteer friends.

11 am is the check out time at Tents where we stayed in the night.

When I call Sheila to find her position , she tells me she is on the way home as we have  left our daughters all alone since early morning ( rather I had left my home last night only )

I  promise her to come  early as I reach tents to collect my bag. Dr Oak has just collected his bag and he has to go back to Dombivli. I drop him at Borivli station and reach home . I have an afternoon appointment at KDAH for my treatment .{ Heath and his team have directly gone to hospital after the 25km/12.5 km run and are going to work till evening . When Ashutosh treats me he does not show any sign of morning run. ( in comparison  I can recall my past nataks/tantrums  after marathon  run. At home I had  ( and never to any work ) with clear expectation of getting royal treatment and no work.

Unfortunately unlike last time I am not able to join friends in special cleanliness drive post run. Last time post wind up we had various rounds of BNP where in we ended up even cleaning gutkhas and plastics.

Post Script :

My involvement in Endurathon is mainly associated with volunteering during  the event day . As a project loving person ( and not necessarily to this kind of project where one wants  every one else  to run ) I can relate to a lot of under currents and sacrifices this kind of event demands.

Endurathon 2014 had a lot of pre birth and post birth traumas. I may not know great details about a lot of happenings, but under currents and after shocks could be easily sensed. What has brought the journey to endurathon 2015 is mainly due to tenacity and endurance of gems like Shashiji .  At times some one  may not agree to his style of doing things/ or views  but he had a clear vision to take this event to it’s logical and even illogical  conclusions. ( more and much more  is yet to come ! Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost ! ) During 2014 ,He had his dream team which after a lot of experiments lost it’s cohesiveness.

Even in crisis he has kept his cool. This time he had a lovely team. Anant sir brought in a lot of corporate style and held all the volunteers in more channelized way with help of Punit .  When Shashiji could lead from front , got in the most important sponsors   and remained in some what limelight, Maheshbhai  and Punit played multi roles of trouble shooters/fixers/logistics handlers/most tricky liasioning with BNP structure.( and did not mind taking back seats) And at one end Promodbhai looked into all the creative’s.( trophies, innovative medals ,T designs and even magazine.

Obviously this core team was helped by many others.

Egos : I have met many simple gurus in my life who have given me valuable insights. Once during commissioning trials ( in a sugar factory in Bihar ) one of the hired contractor by me  gave me simple gyan  (as we were eating sugar cane in the free time ( aur khao gaane ) when main turbine of sugar mill was under breakdown ) :  “whenever you are working in a team and some one says something/ does something  which hurts you ……to  get upset ….. swabhavik hai (it’s  natural ) but after some time ask yourself ….will you still be upset for the same dialogue or same action after a time gap of a  year?? if not ( i.e if the intensity is subdued ) than your pain was/is not genuine. Bas woh  upar upar ka satahee dard tha/hai. ayega aur chala jayega.usko pakadke mat betho.

After the grand success of endurathon 2015 I wish all the founder members of the group to rewind. The rewind is not necessarily to work  together again as a team( may be some things were not meant to work ) but just rewind enough to bring their individual  “one to one relationship:  to an earlier reference point.

 

The end ………………………………

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