Mumbai Marathon 2019 ( Sunday, 20th January 2019 Tata Mumbai Marathon)

Mumbai Marathon 2019: 20th January TMM

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(Photoblog of a volunteer)

Photos courtesy: Neel Oza , BNP green runners and pexels.com

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Advance apologies: I have added the marathon timings of friends who stopped at our water station and whose photos are with me. I hope they will not mind as with latest tracking features runners’ timings are open and in public domain.

Background: Tata Mumbai Marathon is mother of all the marathons in India. It is more because of its sheer size and money involved.

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I am in a rehab phase as I am recovering from right knee injury. Nirmal Pandya, Director owner of D’Fitlab has taken a personal interest/challenge to help me with recovery with certain long-term goals in mind. I have jokingly termed my injury phase as “Right side body dosh avastha (state of default) as over the years I have had plantar fasciitis , tennis elbow and now knee problem , all on the right side of body.

I had been still hoping to run or run-walk the Mumbai marathon. As rehab time gets extended mainly due to my travel which in turn does not allow me to get monitored on regular basis the idea of running the marathon is slowly getting cold. Finally, as January drifts in, Nirmal clearly tells me to avoid running till March.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What to do now?

Mumbai marathon is not a fun kind of event. It is very crowded and full of competitive spirit. Thousands of runners across the globe come to amchi Mumbai to run the race.

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Throughout the route one must work very hard to find place to run obstacle free. Most prominent obstacle is posed by fellow runners only.

Losing your pace and rhythm when some slow runner comes into your path can cost you the podium in the end.

“Shall I volunteer along with our own group? “the thought lingers on for a couple of days.

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Not running and volunteering can be little bit frustrating.

Also volunteering at water station can be very laborious.

It does not involve any creative inputs. All it needs is good planning and a lot of hard work. There is not much scope in improvisation or putting in new ideas.

Inherently I know that water station volunteering in well-defined corporate backed event like Tata Mumbai Marathon is not my cup of tea. It will not give me any creative satisfaction.

Borivali National Park green runners club is also given responsibility to manage one water station. We are one of the runners’ group within great Mumbai city who take this initiative to serve fellow runners because of love for running. It works very well for organizer’s

  1. a) They save money as all the runners’ group do offer their services free.
  2. b) They get much better volunteers who are runner themselves. As fellow runners, we are expected to know what goes on in the mind of runner and her/his expectations.dsc_0337

I call up Nareshbhai (Naresh Chhabra). He is a committee member and in charge of water station for this edition.

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He is willing to take me at eleventh hour at the same time a bit apologetic as he says “Oh, I cannot promise you the volunteer’s tee as all the names with Id proofs have gone long back. “

“Oh, do not embarrass me as we both know that I am not for any tees or freebie”

He has few more requests like me, and he is more than willing to accommodate more (from past experiences he very well knows that in TMM more the merrier works well. By the time one gets up very early on Sunday morning and reach back home, it is 10 hours commitment.)

I request him to allow me to move around or even run (as I will be having the bib as a registered runner) some distance to observe/click photos for this very blog.

He knows that I like writing long blogs, so he gives me full permission. “Yes, you remain with us till you can and you are free to pursue your interest.”

I skip going to expo (one of the most interesting ones within India) and request Sheila to bring my Bib.

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Race Visualisation:

Komal has already briefed me about race visualization requirement.

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Committee has discussed my name as one of the probable for the session. It is both funny and ironical that even though I will not be running the actual race, it will be my job to conduct a virtual race. When I discuss the same with Sanjay R, I request him to have two separate sessions. One for the full marathon and one dedicated for the half marathon. As I have not run full marathon in recent times, I request him to give the responsibility to someone who is a regular in full marathon.

As I prepare the points for race visualisation,

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Photo by Little Visuals on Pexels.com

I have my own doubts. “How can one common race visualisation work for all kind of runners.” The fast runners have different strategy. Usually they are too focused. For them, race visualization gets closely linked to implementation of their own race strategy conceived with a lot of technical inputs based on their practice since last couple of months. They do not have time to imbibe the surroundings. Even so-called famous landmarks get linked to desired pace vis a vis actual garmin/smart watch real time feedback analysis.

The slow runner has more time to observe and imbibe. Yes, in Mumbai marathon it is difficult to reach the state of “thoughtlessness” . The race is too competitive and crowded. “ I am running for fun – this kind of statement may not work when it comes to Tata Mumbai Marathon.

Friday, 18th January 2019

Post Komal’s stretching session, we are still waiting for the Full marathon race visualizing team. Anant sir travels a long distance to reach BNP and Maheshbhai has to rush to Shivaji park so the division of two groups remains in confusion.

Friday being a working day there is clear deadline lined up.

We start our session with pranayam-breathing exercises and I try to conduct the session within the constraints of a story-teller vis-a-vis requirement of a determined runner who may be aiming for a PB (personal best). I avoid too much experimentation so ready sher-o-shayari kind of couplets are avoided.

Post session Punit and Anant sir conduct question and answer session and dos and don’t related to race day.

Anant sir adds his inputs to race visualization (As a purist, he has any way found my type of storytelling visualization technique little bit off the track as I have also covered little bit of Mumbai history, important facts and even addressing the page 3 type of material : Isha amabani-piramal’s movement from off pedder road to worli sea face :post marriage. Reverse path to that of half marathon route. )

Volunteers meeting: Saturday, 19th January 2019

Nareshbhai has called all the volunteers for the briefing. I have completed my 1 and half hour walk within Borivali National Park and now with the group.

He has past experiences of handling the rush of 15000 runners. He knows how tricky things can become if we are not prepared. In past, BNP green runners have served Mumbai marathon runners at different spots. Last year we were at Pedder road, earlier to that at sea link itself. It seems this year there was some hesitation within committee members and our willingness to manage the water station was conveyed to Procam a bit late.

Nareshbhai is a very refined man. He has spent his professional life in medical devices and imaging field. His approach is always inclusive. Even though he is very clear with his thought process, he loves to create consensus and take everyone in team with him towards common goal. He explains about what is expected from all of us. The peak hours of runners ,when and how it becomes difficult to manage the flood of runners. Dos and Don’ts of volunteering.

He has brought the tees, gloves and badges of the registered volunteers. The size of tees is like American sizing and it looks obvious that everyone will be wearing at least 2 sizes higher than what she/he had asked. We all decide to take 3.39 am morning local which majority of runners are going to take to reach Mahalaxmi station in time.

Sunday, 20th January 2019

3.20 am, reconfirmation call between Vishakha and Sheila. Rajesh joins Sanjay R and team for car pool as Vishakha gives us lift in the auto till station. Soon we are with maximum BNP green runners’ friends. This is an early morning train which is suitable for full marathon runners as well as half marathon runners. Soon the train is full of runners and at Mahalaxmi we feel the flood of runners as everyone rushes towards the waiting buses. There are young volunteers who miserably fail with onslaught of runners. It is like me for myself kind of atmosphere. Runners in que look at other runners who jumped into incoming buses. In the chaos ,somehow we all get into different buses but Nareshbhai works very hard to keep maximum volunteers in the same bus.

Seemah G ‘s maika is in Worli itself, so she becomes our guide as we move towards our water station. It is almost 1.5 km walk. On the way we get hold of a tea vendor and we all have tea. I have pinned my Bib (just in case we are stopped at some restricted area) and as we are walking against the flow of runners (who are going towards Mela restaurant signal and we are walking towards flora restaurant side entry to Worli sea face road)This creates two kind of comic situation . The first one where in some solo or small group of incoming runners get confused about their orientation and second one where in incoming group tells us ”hey you guys are going in wrong direction “

Twice we tell people on duty (policemen and organizing team members) “We are volunteers going towards our assigned water station“ as we walk towards final stretch on Worli Sea face road.

We are a solid team

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Team leader:1) Naresh Chhabra

2)Jitubhai Oza

3)Alpa Oza

4)Nikki Oza

5)Neel Oza (with this we have full participation of Oza family)

6)Prashant Ramteke

7)Deepali Ramteke

8) Rashmi Churmure

9)Manjusha Churmure

10) Devendra Bhatt

11)Avinash Virkar

12)Rewa Nargolkar

13)Bhagyashree Joshi

14)Shailesh Harani

We immediately start the work of opening the bottle caps and retightening them. The whole idea is to break the plastic seal to save the trouble of runner. Based on last year’s feedback Procam management has given gloves for volunteers. Gloves will help in opening the caps of bottles as there were complaints about abrasion with skin/fingers because of repeated actions.

Procam has arranged 4 college students as volunteers to take care of logistics. I ask them about the total number of boxes as ours will be purely a water station. We are not supposed to serve anything except water.

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260 boxes of water bottles, each having 48 bottles. We are given the stock of 12,480 water bottles. If we are able to serve 70 % of the bottles, then we are dealing with 8736 bottles and if figure goes to 80 % then we have to open and close 9984 bottles (close to 10,000 bottles!)

I immediately decide to remain behind the table as part of replenishment team and inform Nareshbhai to take a call on who will be in front to individually serve each and every runner, so her/his time is saved.

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We decide to concentrate on replenishments till the major chunk of half marathoners have moved ahead. (those with completion targets in the range of 2.20 hours to 2.40 hours). We have already rearranged two tables and triangular open at bottom dust bins. We have two standees of our BNP green runners which are also placed properly.

We are ready and waiting.

Soon we have fast runners coming across. Our water station is approximately at 10 km mark for half marathon runners and 28 km mark for full marathon runners. Some of the fast runners are not much interested and zoom pass.

As we are still opening new boxes and working on caps, Manish Jaiswal (everyone’s favourite and very approachable coach of Wednesday sessions ) runs fast acknowledging our presence.

All we can say “Arre ye to apne Manish sir the” (Oh, he was our Manish Sir ) in the exclamatory remark!

I have decided to track Sheila and I am trying to judge her arrival post U turn of Bandra-Worli sea link. As her dot is moving, I soon decide to add few more known runners so that we as volunteers are prepared as our BNP green runner friends approach the water station.

Even though we are encouraging each runner, our sound level goes high when we see and receive a known face. Neel is the photographer of the day. He is full of enthusiasm, but he is new to the group. Once the flow of runners increases, it becomes a herculean task for him to listen to our screaming clues, see if we are directing him towards fellow BNP green runner or known face and do click-clicks. Even when few of the runner friends stop with us for photographs, Neel remains under pressure to click the group photo in couple of seconds. (Later I ask him “Was it all on full auto mode? “

“NO, I had to adjust within time constraints.”)

Since I remain behind the counter with Avinashji Virkar, so that replenishment is matched with the super-fast consumption, I am not able to register few of the incoming runner friends. Whenever I do get advance notice (either by live tracking or an early spotting by one of the volunteers) I jump out and join for the few seconds of madness to have a group photo or encourage the runner.

Sheila’s expected arrival is matched based on live tracking and we all join her and Saroj.

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Soon there is mad rush and we are screaming for new boxes and opening of new bottles.

The student volunteer arranged by Procam are extremely helpful. The initial ice was immediately broken when we feed everyone with some snacks in their mouth (Why waste few seconds in distribution? )

One father and two daughters (worli sea face residents) have joined us as willing volunteers and now we have a long chain of volunteers spread out by 10 to 12-meter distance so that incoming flow of runners is tackled effectively.

Once 2.30 hours +- 10 minutes target half marathoners have moved ahead, I shift to the frontline duty. Holding bottles in your hand/s continuously can really tire your hands. So, it is time to shift duties. Few of the frontline volunteers come behind.

Runners psyche: As they approach the water station

As a runner we believe that we know the typical psyche of fellow runner, but over next hour I am able to serve and observe different types of runners

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Type 1 :” Yes” runner

As we are eagerly waiting with extended hand, the guessing game begins. We have to pay full attention to nearest set of runners who are approaching . The yes types have clearly decided to take the water bottle. You can see it over her/his face . Clues are all clear. All you have to do is hold the bottle with very little pressure and like the relay race she/he will lift the bottle without reducing the pace. It is a smooth operation.

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Type 2 : Clear : “No “ runner

She/he has decided much in advance to skip the water break/station. She/he has already changed the lane and is away from our zone.

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Type 3 : “No” runner but you may remain confused.

She/He will run as near as you or water station. The expressions are neutral. You wait for some clues, but nothing is conveyed.

Type 4 : Yes-No-May be type

They are the most difficult to handle. As she/he approaches you, the last 20 to 30 meters are full of mix signals.

Yes she/he wants water ,

no she/he is not giving required clues,

uncomprehending body language,

yes may be the hand is slowly raising ,

oh! it is just to ruffle hair/wipe off sweat from the forehead.

Yes, she/he is extending the arms, I will extend mine.

Oh, she/he just withdrew at the last moment

In turn the runner next to her/him misses the chance to lift the bottle

Type 5 : Grabbing -but not grabbing type

She/he runs towards you with clear indication. The exchange timing is perfect. You lose your grip on the bottle, she/he extends her/his hand and try to hold/grab the bottle but hey she/he is not holding it /grabbing it properly and at times bottle/s fall or rather goes flying. If the cap is not full retightened the water splashes on you. You are now partially drenched with guilty feeling “ Oh I could not serve her/him properly “.

Type 6: with Custom made requirement: type 6A

She/he will run towards you with actual acting with or without voice over “Open the bottle “( assuming that the plastic lock is unbroken ) . We try to shout /act “It’s open only “

Now this comedy communication is happening over few steps and few seconds and in all the noise and chaos.

She/he may feel offended “What dumb volunteer? Can’t she/he understand my simple instructions??

Depending on effectiveness of our communication she/he may grab the bottle or refuse to take the bottle .

You remain perplexed as you recall all the opening (unlocking )and closing ceremony which you all did since early morning.

Type 6: Extra custom-made requirement: type 6 B

This type is my favourite .

As she/he runs towards you the acting /sign language is similar to the type 6A, but one more important personal property is highlighted !

The personal water bottle which needs refilling!

She/he does not want to break her pace or does not want to compulsorily stop for refill.

This kind of volunteering only an experienced runner can do. As a volunteer you have to spot the person (she/he is in midst of other runners. Once you spot her/him and get all those dumb charade type of clues, you start running along with her/him. She/he understands your “Running-Serving intentions “ .She/he opens her/his bottle, you give your bottle as you both are running. Once she/he empties the water, you take that empty bottle so that you can dump in the dustbin.

This kind of volunteering can give satisfaction to both the parties. Runner is happy as she/he has saved few seconds, more importantly her/his “pace-mood” is not disturbed. You are happy as a) you get to run b) you may also take un required /unnoticed pride: “Oh, I am contributing to her/his PB ( personal best)

Type 7: Water starved insecurity type

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She/he is already holding 2 or 3 bottles in hand. As she/he comes near she/he wants one more bottle. You are confused “ How do I handover? from which hand she/he will grab ?”

You try to raise your hand towards her/his relatively free hand, but during the last moments she/he changes /reshuffle her water storage mechanism. The relatively empty hand is not full of bottle and the other hand (which was carrying too many bottles) is not made free to grab the bottle )

{why some one is having water insecurity ?May be her/his society has the perennial problem with water supply ??}

Type 8: Time for a quick bath type

Here I do not want to sound like I am “type casting”, but majority of these runners are our guests from cold climates ( more specific : Caucasian types )

“Oh, it’s a muggy-sticky-boiling tropical country”

“Need to take a quick shower”

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As she/he approaches water station, the first thing she/he will do is start pouring water from the bottle (which she/he has kept ready for this very moment) on her/his head-face. The timings are always perfect. The running pace-emptying of the old bottle and then grabbing of new bottles: usually two : one for drinking and second one for next ““Oh, it’s a muggy-sticky-boiling tropical country” expression!

Type 8: Demanding ( and those who have never bothered to study the race route map/booklet given by Procam) : Type 8A: the mild ones

She/he is lost in her/his running. Suddenly as our water station comes within her attention span, she /he will demand ORS (Oral rehydration solution)

“ORS ,ORS , I need ORS? “

As we try to show bottles in our hand and all around us just to indicate

“this is only a water station “

She/he runs giving that hopeless look at all of us.

A bunch of jokers!

Type 8B: Demanding (and those who have never bothered to study the race route map/booklet given by Procam) : Type 8A: the desperate one

“Where is the loo?/ Washroom?/toilet?”

One can understand the anxiety. She/he has just finished the long Bandra-worli sea link U-turn loop. There are great chances that she/he has witnessed the mass urination at the end of the loop where in all the Braveheart male runners give their wonderful tribute to “Swachh Bharat Mission” {Clean India mission}

The after effect of this ceremony can weaken your resolve and if this is not enough you come and see a water station.

{Ironically, we volunteers had the same problem. We are here for 5 to 6 hours duty, we also needed to know the nearest washroom for us. More important for female volunteers}

Type 8B: Demanding (and those who have never bothered to study the race route map/booklet given by Procam) : Type 8A: the aggressive ones

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“Where is the loo? “

“What ?you don’t know? What kind of volunteers are you?”

“ORS, I need ORS! What? you are only serving water? Is it a joke! No ORS till now! What kind of arrangement is this?”

“I need Volini (spray for quick relief). You do not have?

What? This is a water station!!?? (full of disbelief)

“Not a medical counter?? “(now fully dejected)

Type 9: Very expressive

The ones with a lot of pain on face are the most expressive. Seeing them can make you compassionate and concerned.

“Oh, she/he is running with so much pain. It is hardly 10.8 km for half and 28 km for full, a long way to go!”

You remain concern and get connected to her/his story for few seconds before you get engrossed with the work.

Type 10: Focused, determined and PB chasers (personal best )

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As clearly stated in the beginning of this blog, Tata Mumbai marathon is designed and aimed for serious runners.

In this category runners are supposed to design their run and execute the same with clockwork precision. More like machines! They have pre-decided everything. When, what,how : everything is worked out in minute details. If there is no water break scheduled, they will not even acknowledge their wife or family if she or they are standing and serving at water station. At the most they will acknowledge the noisy-screaming (As I/we keep shouting their names loudly as they approach the water station). We, the BNPGR volunteers as we are virtually forcing ourselves on them.

So we have our own determined dear friends who are sweetly forced to acknowledge our presence, and the list is long (whom I could observe)

Manish sir, Niraj P (Full marathon:03:48:05), Ankur B (Full marathon: 03:52:52) Pradeep K (Full marathon : 04:06:22), Mahesh K ( Full marathon: 04:12:51). Punit C (Full marathon: 04:41:18), Sangeeta and Sunil Shetty (I offer water bottles to them in filmy style by kneeling down and they burst out laughing at my theatrics, but continue running), Sonal M (Full marathon:04:47:08, Aniket S (Full marathon: 04:48:14) are few of the dedicated runner friends. Few of them are fully aware of importance of this race as they need Sub 5:00/4:50 timing to qualify (and as part of long-term training ) for Comrade marathon 2019.We are happy to see their dedication . For us there are other types to serve!

Type 11 : Fun loving and ready to devote little time to join our celebrations.

These types have various sub categories.

Some pose with us for a photo and move on.

Aadesh More (Full marathon:04:45:02),

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Mahesh N (Full marathon: 04:47:26),

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Sheila H ( Half marathon:02:36:48),

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Leena J ( Half marathon:2:54:37 )

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Vishwash J ( Half marathon:03:01:44),

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Dhaneshbhai( Half marathon :),

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Veera A ( Half marathon : 02:14:53),

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Pranay K (Half marathon:02:25:06).

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Dr Anil M (Half marathon: 02:17:49),

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Jagdish N (Half marathon:02:38:40),

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Mehul M (Half:02:43:02), Dharmeshbhai ( H :03:23:15)

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Nirmala A( Half:02:58:46),

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Prashant G ( Full :04:43:59),Jitesh A( Full: 04:50:36),

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Saroj N ( Half : 02:40:39)

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Surekha D ( Half : 03:07:16)

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Rajesh I ( Full :05:04:11),Shashikant B ( Full :05:15:50)

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Pavan A ( Full :04:58:59)

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Mihir N (Full : 05:33:23)

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Nikesh ( Half : 02:51:11 )Revathi S( Half :(03:14:44)

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Some join us for a dance (As later we have DJ sound system) but most of them remain focused. Few do get little carried away like

Vinod J ( Full marathon:05:21:58)

and Sanjay R ( Full marathon: 05:50:24)as they join us for dance -photo and little celebration.

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Their wholehearted involvement can give you little guilt as you start worrying “Arre bhai -you are in race, please resume your run!”

DJ and different kind of volunteering

Procam has provided our water station with music system with one generator.

It is an interesting juxtaposition of two high decibel system. One which can play music which can create the mood and one which can be noisy. How we are going to withstand the noise of generator (no it is not the enclosed silent type one).

Intermittently my team members are inquiring about the readiness of DG set to have some catchy numbers, but the attendant is just showing non-readiness of DG set. Once the rush hours of half marathon are over and as we start having broad day light, janta gets impatient.

I am too preoccupied with water station duties. One of the student volunteer shows the battery box to the attendant and they do the jugad of connecting the DJ music system to DG set main battery ( Not actually DJ, but with 3.5 jack connection as input source)

We are “on” and soon the dance-volunteering pattern immerge.

Jitubhai takes the lead and soon we all are moving, offering water bottles, clapping and encouraging incoming runners with various dance steps.

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It has an immediate effect. Most of the runners respond to our dance-volunteering as they feel rejuvenated. Some dance-run with us, some give broad smiles, some forget the run and join us in groove for detailed steps.

Unfortunately, the attendant turns out to be just an attendant. He is hooked only to two main songs. Kamariya and Chogada (both are recent hits and are based on same gujarati garba tunes in contemporary style).

“Oh do something with this music” is a common feedback and I find myself offering my mobile phone with changing tracks. What happens as on the spot decision keeps me busy for next one hour. I am a good CJ (car jockey). I can play a wide range of songs depending on the mood and taste of audience.

As we are now more into zone of full marathoner and slow half marathoners, I get max response to the hit numbers which have appeal to 40 plus age group.

I do little experiment from time to time when I add Ed Sheeran,Camila Cabello, Marshmello , Imagine dragons, Katy Perry whenever I get chance and change back to famous Hindi dance-fast numbers moment I get visual clues from 40 to 50 plus age group response. Except one repeat I am able to sustain the tempo with all different numbers. Only difficult part is my own dancing. The footpath has boundary so every time I have to run around one of the extreme edge to join the team, leaving mobile unattended so as to continue streaming the music. Any incoming call can create trouble.

Some challenges related to water station

During early morning hours we are the only ones around water station. As day begins, we have our challenges.

Urchins, wooden card box and empty plastic bottles collectors ( to resale ): who are only interested in their business and do not mind picking up stuff within our own safe zone . This gives rise to obvious fear who is picking what? We have kept all our belongings, mobile phones, portable chargers, clothes, home food etc within geography of two small tables. Most of our volunteers are on toes as they are holding water bottles, others are busy in logistics.

Finally we forcefully request urchins/box collectors/empty water bottle collectors to wait till we have done our job.Some how a working truce is established and they do not come too near to us.

Bacha gang ( children as volunteers ) with and without accompanied adult/s are also problem.

Only one family is together. Other kids have joined (and they are supported by) one old vella uncle. He is lifting from our stock of bottles/boxes without taking us in confidence and distributing to any kid who approaches him. This creates its own problem. Many bottles are yet to be unlocked. Kids without briefing and little training can spoil the pace-rhythm of incoming runner.

Uncle is eventually stopped from his unsolicited service. Children who are eager to serve, join us as we monitor them and encourage them to follow our style and pattern.

The workers from construction site also add their colours.

They have just woken up and have come to see runners in half pants. Few even try to take clicks of some good-looking running babes. They are immediately stopped and told to behave.

The breakfast provided by Procam is boring and no body wants to eat. We all have brought in much better food. We have two to three more rounds of tea ( we have done this jugad ourselves) along with dried snacks.

Our Leader

Nareshbhai remains the thorough gentleman and concern leader from start till very end.

Naresh C

He sees that everyone’s voice is heard, her/his request is well received and responded within given constraints and he keeps the whole group united.

Only because of his patience and tenacity we all travel to and fro together till very end.

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…………………………………The End…………………………………………………………………………………………

8 thoughts on “Mumbai Marathon 2019 ( Sunday, 20th January 2019 Tata Mumbai Marathon)

  1. Shailesh Harani you are awesome…
    Entire TMM2019 Experience you have narrated start to end. Covering every aspect of it.
    Hats off to you.

    Like

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