Mumbai Marathon : SCMM 2017: A Photo blog

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15 th January ,Sunday 2017 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon

( photos courtesy : Michael Dsouza )

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Prelude :

Me running at Palolem beach , South Goa on 9th Jan , Monday morning.

This is an image I want to carry in mind during SCMM 17. It gives a false impression about sincerity and self discipline .

Good running demands a good amount of sacrifices. It requires a lot of self regulation.

One has to live a single dimension life where in, apart from your main bread earning activity, all your time (and focus) has to be given to running only.

S.C.M.M. aka Mumbai Marathon is the mother of all the running events in India.

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Some people train for the same throughout the year. Some take out 4 months before the ‘D-day’ and give their best. They change themselves so much that they themselves are amused.

No socialising

No late nights ,

No drinking ,

No outside food,

eat healthy food, drink lots of water , follow the given plan by coach till the last instructions( yes having a marathon coach is the “Most In” thing.( The coach can take both-great pride in seeing his/her prodigy breaking new records as well as good money.)

Apart from coach the next big thing is to be part of runners club which has some aura. If you are not part of any happening runners club you just do not have class. In running hierarchy you are nobody. I am part of Borivili National park green runners group , we are known as BNPgr group….within BNP there are other groups…since ours is not for profit ( repeatedly debated and reminded to everyone…we remain the poorest group within BNP location. )

We ourselves are GREEN runners. Borivli National Park Green Runners. (BNPGr ).

Coming back to my running. I am somehow back into running, post plantar fasciitis injury. As in past ,I am still not following regular routine due to frequent work related travel schedules. If all this was not enough we brothers have decided Goa road trip just before SCMM 17.

Actually after Delhi-Manali-Leh-Srinagar-Jammu road trip, we cousin brothers are only planning and cancelling our Band of brothers trips. The Goa was scheduled for December, couldn’t materialise. After the December setbacks, When I had proposed the January dates I had forgotten the exact date of SCMM 17 .

Now I could not back out. All I could convince them to plan the trip in such a way that we are back to Mumbai by 14 the, January Saturday , an evening before the Marathon.

So before SCMM 17 we had 5 days of Goa masti with LATE nights and NO food control.

All I could do was last two days of DETOX by going on liquid diet ( no pun intended ! )….So as to control the damage.

And yes I did do occasional beach running to keep my guilt happy.

14th January, Saturday 2017. (D-day minus one)

We are home by 5.00 pm from Goa. I have told my brothers (who have next day early morning train) to be on their own as we are going to sleep early.

15th January, Sunday 2017

We are up by 3.00 am as we have to reach lower parel by western railway local train line.

This time there are not much e activities on whatsaap main group.

Most of the runners whom I had shared my initial running journey graph have become extremely serious and committed runners and are doing full. I am the only one who had reached till ultra distance in my running graph and decided to come back to half marathon distance post injury (and post realisation that to pursue really long distance running on continuous basis one cannot have too many interests and you really need to do a lot of sacrifices from your social life )

The old batch guys have formed their own groups to share an Ola or uber. Everyone has a comfort zone when it comes to traveling together. Friends from recent batches are still with enthusiasm. They try to share “traveling together plan”. Which local train from which platform etc.

Yes the days when Kaushikbhai and Alpeshbhai coordinating for the whole group so that maximum BNPGr members travel together are over.

We are at platform no 3 and are able to see few BNP Gr friends but they are traveling first class. {When it comes to first class for any urban transport system, Indian scenario can be very funny. All it guarantees is less crowd and nothing else. It is basically economical separation between haves and have nots. Classic example for me was Kolkata tram. During my first ever trip to Kolkata years ago I was surprised to see 15 paisa price difference between 1st class and 2nd class of a two coach tram . The first class had very few people , some cushion seats and one big noisy fan .15 paisa difference made the huge impact. The first class was virtually empty where in second class if you were able to put your either of feet on tram floor you were “IN “ traveling with cattle class}

There was some mention of people meeting on plat form no 3, but the discussion ended with poor response as everybody had his or her alternate plans.

When we get down at lower parel station and come out to find the BEST buses ( specially allocated for worli naka drop) are missing. The taxi guys are refusing to drop us at the drop point saying “ Oh the whole road and the junction is totally blocked. “

We discuss this with Rathore sir and Dhanesh bhai and we all decide to walk the distance.

It is an unplanned session of a warm up and nobody enjoys it. At worli naka there is utter chaos and only things moving are runners who are walking towards worli dairy.

Again it is quite a long walk. We pass by very few portable Loos with runners standing in queues. Decide to skip (which turn outs to be a wrong decision )

When we reach near the entrance of Worli dairy, nature’s call becomes mandatory. Time is running out. We want to do some exercises to prepare our body for a long run . The BMC loos are crowded. Huge queue for men and women. Men in India have freedom. All you need one fellow culprit and you have volunteers ready to pee in open.

Next to BMC loo there is a parapet wall on which all the men runners ( at least 15 per batch )are standing and doing the mass performance. All the water is going to Arabian sea.

Do I still remain on right side of law and civic sense ?? NO……..but my early relief does not relive me for the long wait to officially enter the holdup are as I have to wait for Sheila.

Sheila takes hell off the time to come out from the long queue and bladder relief.

“Oh at least it was cleaner than those porta cabin loos where water is a big issue” declares Sheila. Finally the rays of positivity fall on us, as we are going to start with Mumbai’s biggest marathon

As we are moving around the post hold up area we are mentally prepared to run the race without any pre run exercises.

A lady runner is moving ahead with plaster on her left hand. Some positive inspiration. I compliment her on her strong resolve. She is apprehensive but proud!!

“It’s all in here! “ She says with finger pointing towards her head.

Basically it’s all mind game is what she wanted to tell .

yes more we run we become

  • more philosophic
  • more poetic
  • more calm, and are at peace with the soul

On this very “clue” one of our BNP Gr friend sizes the opportunity to strike and continue the conversation with a female runner. Some male runners have this tendency to give gyan to female runners. Soon what follows is a heavy dose of gyan ganga on running , our mental state , how strong we runners are and all that blah blah.

Sheila and me change our pace to be away from philosophers ‘ group.

BY the time we start our race we are almost 19 minutes beyond gun time.

“ gnapati bappa moraya “ is the common chorus as everyone seeks blessings of main deity of Maharashtra (also the god who removes obstacles ).

But soon the early morning blessings reaches to anti climax as someone continues the chanting with “ pudhchya varshi lavkar ya “ ( oh lord ,please come back early in the next year ).

What follows is random shouts with interesting selection of bad words. It is still dark so one cannot make out who exactly is saying what except the direction from where it is being said.

As in most of the marathon we all are in sort of crowded lane . “Soon we will be on Worli sea link and we will have enough open space ! “ is my thinking.

The worli Sea link is full of runners with elbow to elbow distance .

This looks more like jatra ( a religious trip/procession ) where in thousands of devotees are going towards the destination more because of faith than anything else . How ironically true with SCMM .

What starts as a mass running remains virtually till end.

As we run on first half of our run on worli sea link , one female runner on our extreme left has a bad fall . It seems she has tripped because of one leg locking into the other. It is dark. The runners around her immediately come to her help, but her fall and theories around it remain in fashion till we complete half the worli sea link stretch.

At the turn there are volunteers with Mumbai Police team.

They all are clapping and cheering the runners. No faces are visible as it is still dark . Some of the runners shower praise on Mumbai police as we all have to take U turn which is kind of bottle neck.

There is absolutely no breeze. We are in midst of sea water, at a good height but no breeze. The impressive Bandra Sea link structure has it’s electronic indicator ON with changing written messages

NO stopping , NO speeding , No pedestrian !!!

Only time so many humans are allowed to walk / run on this lovely stretch is during SCMM and this can be single most important reason to run any of the SCMM.

Though we are still in early phase of 21.1 km run , we are seeing a lot many walkers. “ Are they taking their scheduled walk breaks ? But we have just started ! but how come such a long walk breaks?? “ are the repeated questions coming to my mind as I find it more and more difficult to run at a constant pace or increase my pace and even to run with Sheila as if we are running together .

Time and again our pair gets separated, we run in the space found individually by each of us and come near to each other whenever time and space combination allows us .

It reminds me of those hindi film scenes where joint moving vehicles keep getting separated at bifurcation and again getting joined, especially in the song sequence.

On our return journey on sea link we are happy to see Police force actively participating as volunteers as they are helping the regular volunteers by holding water bottles in their hand ( at times opened) so as to help a runner in motion . I take one of the opened water bottle and feel happy to be served by Mumbai Police. Just imagine meeting the same policeman during the time when he has suspicions that you are on wrong side of law and are asking for water during your meeting!!

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Towards the end stretch of the worli sea link we all witness not a scene , which SCMM organisers, Mumbai and Maharashtra tourism and swachh bharat promoters would love to hide.” The mass male urination !!!

A couple is running in front of us. Suddenly the male gets inspired by the mass offering to the sea, drops his run there only ( in turn blocking my path and stopping my pace ) , gives his water bottle to his female partner …” I will just come” and goes to pee. The female runner like all of us takes the whole thing as very normal and may be every day happenings ;moves on ( at reduced pace ) as if all is well in our city and country.

Throughout worli sea link advertising standees are put up. All the main sponsors have got the required space.

From the start to the end of worli sea link is around 8 to 9 km . During this stretch I am monitoring current pace Sheila has our garmin which has 4 in 1 window.

We are running together. Even during Vasai Virar Mayor’s Marathon Dec 2016 we ran first 12 km together ( please read the blog on the same )

Running a marathon with your life partner is an experience by itself. Your running partner as life partner can have interesting stories ( Please read my blog on running partner as life partner )

This time there are other defensive reasons.

I have not followed the running plan which most of the target SCMM group have followed . I have sinned enough with mind and body ( from the point of dos and don’s before a marathon )just before the marathon.

Can I run SCMM with any target in mind. My friends have secretly prepared sub 5 ( for full marathon ) committed plans . Some of my friends have done practice run post 7.30 am in the national park so that majority of friends never come to know about the sheer hard work being put in 4 months of preparations.

Some of them are under great coaches with annual programme. Apart from the annual rigorous programmes they are also never missing any other weekly functional training or any other group exercises.

Yes all they deserve to have some targets, but me a genuine lover of running , but reckless at practice commitment …..can I have any target ! Nah why get into that has been my inner voice.

So even during worli stretch I keep our current running pace within 7.25 to 7.45 range . Constant pace is just not possible because of too many people either running or walking or suddenly stopping or going for abrupt lane cutting.

On downward incline we even touch just under 7 ka pace for some time.

Now we are on worli sea face road. It has one of the Mumbai’ selfie point.

The dawn is slowly unwinding. People from the neighborhood who are out at this early hours and are cheering the runners.

Soon on our right side we have early full marathoners running towards sea link.

They are on the other side of road divider as we half marathoners are running on left side of the road. I try to run near the divider so as to get glimpse of some of our friends and get early morning inspiration….I am able to see Ankur running strong . Later I am able to see Bhupen , Punit and Sonal.

We are now beyond 8 km mark. Surprisingly I feel good . Yes there is this constant irritation of not able to run at any particular pace but signals from body are positive. I ask Sheila to increase the pace and we soon cross 10 km mark and have our every 2km walk break. We have run together 10 km. In Vasai Virar Mayor’s Marathon we were together till 12 km and later due to injury I had asked her to increase her pace. Today here on worli stretch I take her permission to run faster as I am feeling good.

It was not a straight and simple decision. Increasing pace after halfway mark ( almost ) is going for negative split which can bring out negative effects. “ May be I will aggravate some pain and finally rejoin Sheila or even trail behind her in the final stage” kind of thoughts come and go. “ Go “ is the clear signal from Sheila.

I start running and initially target 7 ka pace ( and not less ).

At Mela turn we all turn right . Very few want to take a big right turn .Most want to take shortest curve making the curve more crowded. Atria mall and soon we are on very spread out stretch of the road. It’s Hajiali stretch and still no breeze.I am abe to increase my pace. On my left there is fine mist spray facility ( which normally is kept on queen’s neck less curve .) I see runners suddenly breaking their pace , changing their lane and crowding the space so that they can enjoy the mist spray. What happens is some kind of auto mechanism. First the thought of breaking the pace, changing the lane comes and I find myself drifting very little on my left, but some auto correction stops that action and I find myself running again straight with increased pace as if to avoid the temptation by crossing over fast and visually eliminating the water spray zone.

Haji ali has good number of support crowd as we move towards Cadbury/Mahalaxmi junction.

Now I am at the most hyped stretch of SCMM . The great Pedder road. Enough is usually said and discussed before every marathon . Oh the killer incline of pedder road.

Needless to write “Now everyone has license to walk”

Everyone is walking. For some it is kind of a zombie walk and for many it is a chance to avail the full services of Pedder road residents.

Residents of the local neighbourhoods are down with nice trays with full course food items. One can get Oranges , Bananas , Biscuits , Salt , Sugar , Toffees and even chocolates. Demand and supply obviously has mismatch . The water remains the big issue.

Surprisingly I find an inner urge to run. There is no place to run on our left side of road. May be it is the practise of running on Yeoor Hills ( repeatedly ) and those Lavassa runs have conditioned me to take any incline normally . Though most of my hill runs were not planned from any running plan or schedule . Due to circumstances we were at different locations and we could run 10 km to 18 km distance on those rolling hills. “ where do I run? “ I change my lane and do my entire Pedder road stretch on right side of divider on full marathon space. Yes I am running just next to divider, so if some volunteer or over enthusiast police man reminds me “ hey this is not for you “ I can do little zig zag to satisfy his ego or position. Only time when I come back to our half marathon zone if when I am near the water station managed by our own team BNPGr friends.

This time various water stations are managed by runners group. It is out of sheer love for running and running community many of the runners friends ( who are not running SCMM due to various reasons ) have decided to volunteer without any expectations of any kind) Ironically most of them spend 6 to 7 hours of continuous duty as this one of the crazy runs where you have tons of runners with continuous traffic flow. You end up giving much more time as compared to full marathon runner and your are equally tired by not running but serving the runners.

Our water station is overcrowded. It is just not possible to stop ( in any way my inner voice does not want me to stop ) and have some selfie moments or some jaddu ki zappi .

Before I can recognise the faces of friends, I hear Varun’s soothing voice but clear command “Yes Shaileshbhai let’s do it “ and before I realise he starts running with me as pacer. He runs with me till kemps corner incline and goes back to the water station and before I realise I am going down from the second and the last incline of SCMM route.

( Later I come to know he has run more than couple of kilometres as pep up pacer )

At Wilson college turn there is an interesting group.

They are chorus singers , singing Hindi film songs for the runners.

With guitar and some more musical instruments in hand and with smiling faces they are singing songs .

No stage , NO orchestra , NO mike or public address system . It is as simple as it can be , but with tons of love and care.

We are on the long marine drive : queens neck less curve . Most appealing road in SCMM route after bandra worli sea link .

It is iconic Mumbai. As a runner these are your last few km. For those who practise here it’s a home ground, but for those who come from different part of Mumbai , Maharshtra state and from all across India and World it remains the most charming stretch.

There are live bands, Sponsored support system , Charming cheer leader girls , Advertising and promotion activities and yes a lot of sound and noise.

It is also a stretch where most of the runners have memory logs of cramps.

“ Oh just outside police gymkhana I had cramps.” “ I was running near the marine lines flyover and suddenly my calves gave up “

These are the real memories. I also have couple of them . At those two places I am more aware of my muscles, otherwise I am enjoying my run with pace touching 6 whenever I am able to find space. After 18 km I decide to complete the race without any walk breaks or water break. As we all turn towards church gate road and leave Marine lines the roads gets squeezed. Now there are more runners than the road can physically hold and most of them are running. It is the worst stretch to complete any marathon . I once again decide to run on wrong side , the side of full marathon . Here it is a difficult task . There are more volunteers and till flora fountain the road divider is easy to jump over. I keep doing zig zag and find myself arguing with volunteer when repeatedly reminded “ hey not in this lane “

“ But yaar where do I run in our lane ? where is the space ? “ I am able to run till flora fountain/hutatma chowk .

D.N Road has clear demarcation and at some place the road divider has good height . SCMM 17 now becomes a big hurdle race . One has to constantly do zig , zag , request , scream “ side please “ to make your immediate space “ You are pushing yourself against a lot of internal as well as external factors. Every external obstacle makes your internal resistance more stronger to “ give in “ “ hey it’s only last 300/200 metres “ “what is remaining now in this running race …relax….you will reach …go with the flow”

As I keep running ( if it can be called as running ) I have my eyes on the clock . Suddenly you have that urge to complete the run before the digital clock’s seconds section go beyond 59 seconds.

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I run now with increased pace as I keep reading 40 seconds till 58 seconds ….18 seconds running journey.

I am able to complete the race in 2:30:

For a back bencher like me who had the self doubts about the quality and trouble free run the end comes with pleasant surprise.

I decide to wait for Sheila , so do not enter the Azad maidan chaos. I find a porta loo next to an emergency medical area ( where normal runners are not allowed )

Just next to the medical zone I find dozens of workers in half sleep mode. They have used tarpaulin to cover themselves. I talk to one of the worker as I complete my post runner stretches .It gives me a very small idea about this mammoth event called SCMM.

Even though I am waiting for Sheila at the finishers zone , we miss each other.

She is not carrying a cell phone , but she calls from some one’s phone and informs me that she is near volini ( sun pharma sponsored medical ) zone.

Azad maidan is final testimony of this big jatra ( religious procession ) . There are people all around. Queues and please wait for your turn : these are common things. So we wait every where including taking our selfie photos at various predesignated spaces.

BNP runners are missing . We are able to only meet Milind Meher ( he himself is searching for his biako ( his favourite word when he wants to mention his better half to the group ) Meeta .

There is no preplanning for group photos . Sheila being new in runner community would love to meet friends and have those photo moments.

At the end of a run everyone loves either little less noise or few minutes with friends.

I am now a puran chawal . Run is over so lets’ move out from this madness is my call . I have not taken any initiative to make phone calls to find who is where.

Sheila also knows we have to reach home faster as children must be waiting . As a lady of the house there is a work load waiting for her .

We reach home and are overwhelmed by all the preparation our daughters have done to celebrate our first SCMM together . We even ran 10 km together .

We celebrate the run with our daughters.

Happy ending isi ko to kehte hai !!!

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2 thoughts on “Mumbai Marathon : SCMM 2017: A Photo blog

  1. Wonderful write up. It took me down the memory lane. Din do the SCMM this year so your write-up made up for it but I missed the pics which are so synonymous with your write-ups 😊

    Like

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