Endurathon 2019

Borivali National Park Green Runners’ Endurathon 2019

YL4A5963

A photoblog of the volunteer

YL4A6006

Photos courtesy: Borivali National Park Green runners Friends

I have been off running in Borivali National Park for quite some time. The time allocated (within the travel and work-related commitments ) for physical fitness is given more to rehab exercises and strength training sessions.

June 2019 onwards I could finally resume my Sunday weekly running in National Park.

YL4A5450

Nazar se door(not in sight) means you are out of circulation. You are out of the gossip circuit as well as normal news.
Yes, there is the WhatsApp group which has mammoth onslaughts of posts. The sheer number revolves more around mutual admiration in the social world. Some dedicated runners rule this world and they do not get tired of electronic congratulations even after running for 8 to 10 years. {in the world of social media, the onslaughts of “congratulations” and an equal number of “thank you’s” do not cost a dime for anyone. Nobody gets or offers anything, not even a cutting chai but mutual admiration goes on (so what if it is just plastic).

Periodically members forget the dos and don’ts and overcrowd the group with less substance and more of unnecessary stuff.

YL4A5831

The background activities for Endurathon usually start by March.

March 2019:

  • A WhatsApp group for Endurathon 2019 is formed
  • 7 th March 2019: I have been added to the WA group.

(Soon from my side, I give dozens of odd new ideas so that the 2019 edition has some new flavours.)

1U4A2215

1U4A2219

This time it is the 6th edition. There is some collective maturity which has been built with usual the trial and errors over the years. The early editions had the typical after-effects post endurathon of few of the core members leaving the group/distancing from core activities. The split was usually due to personality/approach differences and mammoth events like Endurathon bring people too close, so some friction is quite natural.
After the 5th Endurathon event of 2018, immediate feedback was called in and there were some interesting inputs.
This time the whole BNPGR is full of energy and there is great continuity of leadership.

  • The RCC( race coordination committee ) comprising of Anant Sir, Maheshbhai, Sanjay Raut,Punit Chandiwala, Vishwas Joshi ( Race director for Endurathon 2019 edition), Suvendu Prusty and Sridhar Mani} have started the background work.
  • IMG-20190630-WA0006IMG-20190629-WA0019

YL4A6118

Sanjay R informs me about my role. Continuity is his style for this year. I am once again given the task of leading the Award function and race announcement zone.

Somehow, I have been part of this zone since 2014. In earlier editions even when I was assigned to some other activity my role always got modified to be in this zone during the events. One can say that I was trained for this zone by Anant sir, Shashi ji , Kaushikbhai and Mahesh bhai.

Should I ask for some other assignment?

Something which does not require preparations/practice sessions.

Also, award and race announcements become the face of the race. It involves handling biggies and big egos. Any faux pas by your team can get highlighted on social media.

YL4A6002

YL4A5992

YL4A5932

We are discussing over the phone. Lately, I am busy with my work, so our meetings over coffee have reduced.

“Let’s have a new team for the announcements”

BNPGR has this philosophy of developing newer talent and faces. It is easier to repeat the old team. Repeating the award function with Deepa M and Sheila can be the easy option.

Various names are discussed and finally, a new team with maximum from generation next is assigned to me:
Aarzoo Agarwal (daughter of Nirmala Agarwal),
Samiksha Prusty (daughter of Suvendu Prusty) nad
Riva Harani are from gen-next along with Saroj Nirmal are my team members.

YL4A6051

YL4A5310

Soon I draft the first version and send the same to Anant sir for his inputs and approval.

By march end, Flyers of Endurathon 2019 are out on social media.

IMG-20190725-WA0014

IMG-20190324-WA0071

14th July:

IMG-20190715-WA0054

We have volunteers briefing by Anant Sir and

CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation ) session and demo of AED ( automatic external defibrillator).

Like every year we have this demo session. Unlike previous editions this time the overall participation in the workshop is not very impressive.

Award and Race announcement team practise sessions.

We have our rounds of practice sessions at our place and as usual, Sheila takes care of our guests during each session. Ideally, I want to have 6 to 8 sessions, but there are genuine-time constraints for this kind of volunteering commitment. Within the given time the team picks up very fast and we are ready for the D day.

26th July, Friday Morning:

Sanjay has called me in the morning at National Park. He is a little apologetic as within new constraints given by authorities there are some changes and compromises. He wants me to review the ground situation with me.

IMG-20190724-WA0091

IMG-20190725-WA0001

After 2018 edition I had given him an ambitious list of the requirement of stage and paraphernalia related to the zone of Race announcement and Award function.

What we had dreamt for Endurathon 2019 are now just evaporated ideas.

We decide to use the given constraints to the best of our advantages. We do our time calculations and rain-related problems.

26th July, Friday Night

This time also I have decided to stay within Borivali National Park. I have already spoken to Mahesh bhai.

As I am about to leave for National Park, Maheshbhai calls me and asks me to come to Girishikhar (his housing society) as his Innova is almost full and he wants to hand over the delicate Award trophies, gifts for the winners to me.

IMG-20190726-WA0060

We start out together and Mihir joins us at the main gate.

It’s almost 10.30 in the night. Maheshbhai and Mihir stop by and search out the security guard who has the keys of the common toilet blocks. We want to be more sure of the various toilet blocks and their availability in the early morning hours for our runner friends.

IMG-20190711-WA0016

IMG-20190711-WA0017

At 500 meter we meet Mr Joshi and his mandap team. There are last-minute suggestions which he takes reluctantly but with a smile on his face.

It is raining continuously. Mahesbhai has already spoken to Sanjay and is worried about these continuous rains.

“What if some tree falls on the race route?”-is the thought which is troubling him.

YL4A5516

YL4A5444

He tells me “I want to do one survey of the alternate route, in case there is the problem of tree fall or maybe stream water overflowing on the race route”

{In case of stream/ river flooding there are clear chances that authorities may stop everyone’s movement citing safety as the reason)
I am amazed at Maheshbhai’s concern, energy and never give up spirit even at the eleventh hour.

Eventually, we sleep only for 3.5 hours that night and get up by 3.30 am to be at main get before 5 am

IMG-20190727-WA0005

Saturday, 27th July 2019: The Endurathon day

It is raining continuously. It had rained throughout the night. I am doing rounds from the main gate till the 500 m tent area so that maximum children and their caretakers are given a lift.

1

1U4A1054

By 5.40 I am with my team at Race announcement zone.

The only clear and loud sound is of rain.

In this incessant rain, more than 230 plus Borivali National Park green runners volunteers are moving towards their respective duty zone. We all derive the super positive energy from each other as we face the herculean task (as it looks seeing the intensity of the rain at this hour) of smoothly conducting our race.

YL4A5687

YL4A5353

YL4A5392

We cannot see any runners. We are the centre of the event. Our volunteers have tried to request everyone to come towards the hold-up area, but the majority of runners have decided to take any kind of shelter so that they do not get drenched so soon, before the race. {during the race everyone loves rain as it cools down the mood and the body}

Some runners are in nearby tents: the medical,

YL4A6043

IMG-20190728-WA0163

the baggage counter,

YL4A5822

10

the kitchen and serving area

YL4A6097

IMG-20190728-WA0166

and Our Race announcement tent.

A wonderful job is done by the baggage counter guys in doing their duty within the claustrophobic environment thanks to heavy rains.

We had planned to start the race announcement by 5.55 am so that we could wind up by 6.15 am.

“ Shall we wait for more runners? “

“NO” is the clear message by rain god.

My team, even if feeling nervous does not show their feelings, but obviously “ How do we start? Or rather whom do we address? “As in front of us is an empty maidan with continuous rain.

We decide to go ahead and request the 10 to 12 runners who have somehow taken shelter in our tent to be our live responsive audience.

YL4A5616

YL4A5292

IMG_8389

My team goes ahead with all the race-related information and important aspects. We tell everyone about race route, medical and ambulances, seven water stations and their exact locations, the position of toilet blocks, the schedule for the day and all the relevant stuff. The team introduces Shetty sir

YL4A5313

YL4A5992

(from Indian railways and who is the race referee for today’s Endurathon ) along with Chief guests Mr Satish Gujaran ( 10 time Comrade runner with Green number) and Mr Deepak Bandbe ( Faster Indian in 2019 Comrade marathon )

YL4A5995

When we want to introduce the pacers of the race ( most not visible ) only Aniket moves towards us. It is an interesting visual abounding in situational humour.

We go full throttle with our announcement and the close group cheers us in the best of their abilities. Soon the impact of rain goes away and all are enjoying their given role.

At 6.15 am we call the young children and we have Indian National by them. Every runner stops standstill at her/his respective position and joins in.

YL4A6097

YL4A5732

IMG-20190727-WA0046

At the start point, I do not see the digital clock. I had confirmed from Sanjay last night and he had assured me.

We coordinate with timing guys to give us the cue when 20 seconds are left. I have a mental visual of Anant sir reminding me “Race must start at the exact time “

We still have some time and we reintroduce the chief guests, race referee and pacers to the runners who are in close vicinity.

YL4A5320

YL4A5319

Even though we have taken enough care so that no big vehicle should come during the last couple of minutes we have Sanjay Raut driving through. He looks worried as he drives slowly through the sea of runners. He mumbles: “It seems some tree has fallen” and moves ahead.

If one car moving through was not enough we have one big bus coming from the opposite direction (from the kanheri side )

YL4A5303

YL4A5307

YL4A5289

We run towards the bus and requests the driver to park on one side for just a couple of minutes. Nobody envisaged the vehicle movement from the opposite side.

Soon we are ready with count down as we start our reverse counting from 20-19-18-…….till Go…..

The race starts exactly on time.

IMG_6096

DSC_0791

DSC_0686

DSC_0684

DSC_0556 (1)

The Crisis:
The incessant rain has taken its toll.
Just on the way to Kanheri hill, one large tree has been partially uprooted by the rains and high winds, thus blocking the road. There is not even a small opening for single line formation running which can allow even one runner to pass through.
Pradeep K is on his bike as the volunteer and he realises that it’s a huge tree and cannot be pushed/pulled away without mechanical tools/heavy vehicle support.
We have our timing mats and important water station at top of the Kanheri hill. Shreyas D and his team realise the gravity of the situation as they discuss with Pradeep K and Babloo on the options available. This is beyond the 11th-hour situation and needs an immediate decision. Mobiles can not catch any signal in this area.

DSC_0932

DSC_0920

On the spot, decisions are taken without waiting for the approval of the Race Committee. The timing mats and water stations are shifted. This can make the distance shorter so that the bikers immediately ride towards the start/endpoint and the start/endpoints mats are also shifted so that overall distance is maintained.
Fast decisions are taken without waiting for hierarchical approval as people involved are experienced runners themselves and every volunteer runner knows his responsibility. A major crisis is avoided and many at other zones only come to know about this only at the end of the race.

Technically our team is free till the Award function time.

Everyone wants to go and join the young children’s cheering group.

YL4A5748

YL4A5732

YL4A5731

YL4A5724

YL4A5727

YL4A5725

I do a little misadventure as I take a few of the young children in the car to take them ahead on the race route to add more surprise element to incoming runners.

Children are dropped at 2.5 km water station and I try to move ahead

As I reach 3 km mark I realise that Car is a wrong choice as I am the obstacle to runners and morning walkers.

I take a U-turn and wait at 2.5 km water station till the time children tell me to take them back to the base of Gandhi tekdi which is their assigned positions as it is the most important junction point of the race ( and also near to the main base tents area)

Award function:

We start our 3 rd session at 9.50 am as we have to give some time to the timing coordination team to give us 18 podium winners.

We have already received Team Bajaj ( our main sponsors )

YL4A6002

IMG-20190728-WA0142

This time there are no on the spot CSR related activities. Once we have covered the key aspects of BNPGR and it’s activities and introduction of all the important guests, we start the award ceremony. This time for a change we have started from the fastest categories of Charging Cheetas.

Interesting questions are asked to selected winners. Comfortable winners are requested to address the fellow runners.

YL4A6015

1U4A2791

1U4A2771

1U4A2745

1U4A2746

1U4A2734

1U4A2742

Runners are looking quite happy as they have enjoyed our trademark hospitality. They have live Ice zone to Massage sessions by blind friends from Trinayani.

YL4A5983

YL4A5988

YL4A5817

IMG_8504

IMG_7657

We have unlimited hot breakfast and since it is unlimited many of runners friends have a gala time in having more rounds of their favourite items. This leads to a mini-crisis for the kitchen team as in-between what was prepared gets over and we have to prepare fresh food for slow runners who are arriving late.

Once again the food starts flowing and things are in control.

1U4A1211

1U4A2206

1U4A1642

DSC_0916

IMG_6923

IMG_8457

One more edition of Endurathon is completed with the dedication of 230 plus runners-volunteers

1U4A2726

IMG_5847

IMG_8580

See you in 2020…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s