Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Run Maadi Run!

The day has started very early today. Today is the day for the second edition of Bangalore Sunfeast 10K World Run. It is the most prestigious 10K run in the world. I got up at six in the morning. My run is scheduled at 8:10, but I leave at 6:30 with my friends as we want to watch Elite 10K Run and also do some warm-up exercises before the actual run starts.

 People from all walks of life are flocking in Kanteerava stadium this morning. A giant screen set in the stadium shows professional long distance runners competing for the top honor. While we are doing some stretching, we see a group of runners entering from the main gate. An Ethopian, Deriba Merga, is leading the pack. He finishes the race in 28 minutes and 13 seconds to be eventual winner. Pretty impressive! How fitting it is that he has bib number 1 on his chest! But he doesn’t get it easily. The runner-up, Mark Kiptoo of Kenya, is just two seconds behind him. It must be heart-breaking for him – but there can be only one winner; the life is tough!

 As soon as the female elite runners start their race, people all around us start to get to the running track. We are going to run in a few minutes now. But it’s not at all easy to reach to the track. Total 23000 people have registered for the run, and Open 10K run, in which I am participating, has 8000 runners. Eager to touch the track, enthusiasm gets better of us and we jump the barricade just to be a little ahead of other runners. Even the security person standing there watches in awe, as we get pass him. I don’t get to see the winner of female elite run, as our run starts in a few seconds. It’s like flood of humanity. In the beginning I walk, since it’s impossible to clear the rush. I just watch the people around – so many of them, dressed in different colors. Some of them are dressed up to win the costume award. The real diversity is on display here. Many of them are running for a cause – charity NGOs they are supporting: these NGOs work for destitute children, children with special abilities, aged people, women, environment, health, primary education etc. This seems to be the best way to engage people in charity work. We need to give them sense of purpose and involvement – then they will be involved in charity work. Only asking for their money is not the surest way – money alone does not bring the satisfaction, whether you are giving it away or earning it in lumps.

 The city roads wear a completely different look today. There is no usual long traffic jams. No vehicles are to be seen, and it’s a relief not to breath carbon and put the lungs to trouble. I can hear the chirping of the birds. Now that’s quite rare in Bangalore, where honking of vehicles is the only real music you can hope to satisfy your hearing senses with on a busy day. Before today, I never noticed how may trees are lined up on these roads; most of them are gulmohar trees with red flowers as their ornaments. Only movement seems to be of runners. Bangalore beats, and sometimes it beats to the different tunes! By the time I reach to the Dickenson Road, I overtake many slow runners. I notice a runner in front of me. Actually I notice his shoes, if you can really call it one. It’s a peculiar type of shoes, of military green and grey color. It rather gives the impression that it’s marriage of a sock and a shoe – only difference here is that they are locked forever in sanctity of the marriage, there is no way they can get divorce.  

            Soon I see 5 km mark on the road. Wow! I have completed half the distance and I didn’t bother to look at my timing in my watch – but there were better things to look at. I am feeling a little tired now. In a moment an aged barefooted person overtakes me, panting heavily and completely soaked in sweat. He looks like above sixty, but his legs put even an eighteen years old to shame. I draw some inspiration from him, and try to follow him. The remaining part of the motivation comes from the crowd gathered to cheer the runners. They have occupied the footpath on both sides of the roads. Some of them are clicking the pictures. I wonder how difficult it may be for them to get up early on a Sunday just to see people running and cheering them up! Two gentlemen holding a poster give us a thumbs-up. The poster happily announces, “The finish line is near. Keep Running”. 

             When I see the finish line, I start sprinting. The thought of crossing it rubs away the tiredness of the body. I see a runner in Parikrama NGO outfit. The line on his t-shirt says it all – No Difference at the Finish Line. As I cross the finish line, I think about it - that is what running is all about. It doesn’t matter what is your caste, or creed, or religion. It’s important to get the feet on the street, determination at the starting line and more importantly, the perseverance to reach to the finish line. 


  1. Firstly congratulations for finishing the 10K Sunfeast World run till the finish line :) I could feel the sense of satisfaction and happiness more than achievement in your writing :)

    And hats off to the elderly group who not only took part but even competed :)

    btw.. What is elite 10K run?

  2. How can I miss... you look pro in the pic ;-)

  3. Vineeta, Elite 10K Run is for professional athletes. The prize money is very high there. It is dominated mostly by the Africans.