Monthly Archives: November 2010

Re-living my First Marathon

As I get nearer to my second full marathon at Mumbai in January 2011, the thought of my first one in January 2010 keeps coming back. Here is the story of my first marathon –

Had a good run till about 30km, well on track to finish within 5 hours. However by then the Mumbai heat had started getting to me (and most of the runners around me) – it was 34-35 degrees and the sun was beating down relentlessly (most of my training was in the cold/freezing Delhi winters). The killer was the run over the Bandra-Worli Sealink – 6 kms, absolutely no shade, no cooling breeze and the final straw no water for 6kms !! First time I felt like just completely giving up, lying down and asking someone to pick me up and transport me home – and there was still about 12kms to go!

 I thought my training (besides the regular runs over the last few years, I had done a specific 20 week program – Hal Higdon at, which went up to a 33km max run) had prepared me for the full 42kms; but this experience was truly humbling! Well, I finally crossed the finish line making sure that I ran at full speed for the last 2.5kms, and finished in about 5hrs26min (430th finisher overall and 52nd in the Veteran group).

 The first thought after crossing the line was – never ever will I run again!! Also felt disappointment that I didn’t finish in 5hrs! Dragged my way back home (staying with the in-laws in Mumbai), had a few hours of fitful sleep, woke up absolutely stiff, knees rigid, hamstrings, quads, glutes and all the other named/unnamed muscles in the body paining. Ate my lunch/dinner around 7pm – once again vowed to never run again. In bed once more around 9pm.

 Woke up next day and the legs felt 500% better, just some muscle ache – the type that actually feels nice! Read through the papers about the marathon; the realisation of having completed a momentous journey started creeping through. Opened up my computer and the first thing I started to look for is the schedule for the next marathon(s) !!

Next goal under 5 hours. It’s an addiction (some call it the runners high) can’t wait to get back to running !



The Gul Panag incident at ADHM 2010 – Digging a little Deeper

Ok, many of you must be wondering why am I writing about this rather than about the details of my run at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on the 21st!? Let me explain why –

First, I ran the Delhi Half Marathon in 2hr04min22sec, the reason I tell you this is because I think I have some explanation for what happened to Gul Panag. Why am I trying to explain this? Because a message like the one Gul tweeted and several papers and TV channels carried through the last two days does some pretty serious damage to the running culture among women in India which has emerged so strongly over the last few years – and this disturbs me !

Gul ran her race in 2hr25min26sec. You can confirm this by entering her bib number 9175 at I am pretty sure that Gul was harassed in the last 4-5 kms. More on this a little later.

I am a serious runner; Male and 46 years old. Anyone even attempting a half marathon (21.097km) or more has to be a serious runner since running this sort of distance requires a commitment to a certain level of training and also clear focus on the goal. Being a serious runner and having run a hard race I can tell you with some authority that no one running this sort of distance has the time or inclination to think of groping/molesting women. I have run 4 of the Delhi half marathons till date besides several other marathons around the country, I have never ever seen or observed or even heard of a single incident of groping or molestation at a marathon event before this one.

Now my explanation – Another run starts at around 9am – the Great Delhi Run. This is a 6km run which attracts thousands of people. This is a run for NON-serious runners; people (read as ‘men’) out to have some ‘fun’. Every year the marathoners who are finishing after 2hrs get harassed by this crowd – many run over to the other side of the road and create problems by blocking/obstructing the finishing marathoners. Last year (and the years before that) I finished in 2hr13min and got caught in this melee. This year because of my faster time I caught them while they had still to ‘warm-up’ to their fun! So my theory is that Gul got caught in the middle of this horde of hooligans !

I can also tell you that anyone who finished after 2:15 couldn’t even get their finishers medal at the finish since by that time the “hooligans” had overtaken the entire area (have a look at the message on the website, the organisers have acknowledged this). I personally saw (as I was leaving the area) that medals were being snatched away and the Lucozade (Energy drink) stall was being mobbed & almost looted !

It would be interesting if we could verify this with Gul (incidentally I have also written to the Hindustan Times reporter about this, let’s see if she follows-up on the story). Many serious runners like me would feel really disappointed if serious runners were out to “harass/molest” women during such a race!

Yes, I do agree with Gul that this sort of incident would have never happened in Mumbai (serious or non-serious runner not withstanding). Many men in & around Delhi are louts and just can’t control themselves.  But also it’s for the organisers to ensure that the race participants can finish safe. A simple step would be to keep different finish/start points for the marathon and Delhi run.

At the Mumbai marathon – the Half and Full start from different points altogether and although they end at the same place the times are pretty spread-out. And it’s the same organisers !

As you can see this did bug me 🙂


Zip, Zap …. fuusssss – The Case of the Missing Energy Drink

Was elated when I got a mail several weeks before the 2010 Mumbai Marathon about Lucozade being the official energy drink for the Mumbai Marathon. No, I “didn’t get wings” but did feel good that finally there would be a real energy drink at the marathon instead of the “electral ghol” that was being served up for several years.

Since the advise of the marathon sages (gurus, whatever…) has always been – don’t try any food or drink at the marathon that you haven’t used before in a few long runs – I set out to find myself some bottles of Lucozade in Delhi. Several emails to the organisers, potential retailers, websites and visits to health shops later..I realised that this drink is just not available in India, let alone Delhi.

Pretty disheartening – So why spend a ton of money on advertising and sponsorship for a product which no one can buy? The wisdom of GSK’s marketing eludes my puny brain…

Come Expo day, I was strolling through the stalls and lo & behold – The Lucozade stall !! Will wonders ever cease ?! A PYT asked me to turn my bluetooth phone on so that they could beam me a quiz; and for answering correctly the reward – an elusive bottle of Lucozade to carry back with me !!

Ok, this is fantastic, I say to meyself…I can try this thing on my taper runs before Sunday and hopefully it will agree with my tummy. Questions to the PYTs and several other people at the stall however started creating some doubts – how will you serve this at the race, which flavour, etc, etc. – was given a look –  “someone get this crazy guy back into the asylum he escaped from, what language is he talking, what race, what stalls on the roads, serve what….”. Hmmm

That didn’t deter me though, tried out the drink – actually tasted pretty good, better than the other more popular and more easily available drink from the Y-Gen company. Race Day….Mumbai heat, dehydration, frantically searching for the yellow and orange bottles of life saving Energy Drink…..Ask for it at the water stop and something is thrust into my hands…relief !? …….NOOOOOOoooooo not again, it’s the dreaded “electral ghol”. Anyway gulp it down.

Never saw Lucozade in that race.However I know now (a little birdie told me, well actually a comment by a fellow runner on my previous blog) that it was there, well hidden from the amateurs – reserved, like the road was (ok for a brief period..), for the ELITE !!

This time again there is hope (false?) that the sponsor will actually make available the drink not just at Mumbai but also at the Airtel Half in Delhi to the “Aam Runner”. Where does the hope come from, you ask? Well look at the Delhi route map and you see two type of drink stations – the kingfisher bottled water ones and a couple (or is it three) energy drink stations ?……. or will the gho(u)ls have their revenge again…nooooooo…

Cheers to our energy, and to the organisers for showing us such dreams 😉

Abandoned Ships – Attack of the Hooligans

If you have read my notes on “Water over-the-bridge…” well here is another crib.

I admit it – I am a slow runner – I ran the Mumbai marathon in over 5 hrs. Anyway, Mumbai, Jan 2010 was my first full marathon so the goal was just to finish it. The Rajiv Gandhi bridge almost killed that aspiration!! But the proverbial last nail in the coffin (almost) was the ordeal afterwards.

As I finally crossed the bridge and turned to the left I spotted some water on the OTHER SIDE of the road, ok no problems, just take the u-turn further ahead and come back, just another 10-12 minutes or so. Thankfully some forward ‘looking’ volunteers saw our “I am about to die now” faces and threw some water bottles across the central verge. The best drink I’ve ever had !! This time I asked them to throw across an extra bottle which I tucked into my shorts.

There was still a good 9 kms to go (if I recall correctly) and the sun and heat weren’t getting any better. As I moved further ahead the small water bottle soon finished, no problems, I remember seeing a water station near the Mahalaxmi race course. Soon enough I spotted it from a distance. Hmmm….. looks like a lot of thirsty racers want water, I thought, as I could see a fairly big crowd near the station.

As I neared, I realised what was happening – I am not sure if the ship was abandoned first and the hooligans attacked later or the ship was abandoned because the hooligans had attacked. Anyway no volunteers in sight anywhere, all I can see is the “Aam Junta” carting away cartons full of water bottles, I couldn’t make them give up even one bottle !! Still a good 6 kms to go !!

I think I was hallucinating after that (dehydration) since I don’t remember seeing any water stations afterwards, although I think someone gave me a bottle of water on marine drive which helped me get to the finish – Yeah !!

Organisers ! – this is an amateurs race, a lot of people will finish in 5 hours or more …. Please, please let there be water and some volunteers who will not abandon the ships 🙂

Water over the Bridge and Other cribs

Those of us who participated in the SCMM 2010 earlier this year are reminded of the ordeal which may await us in January 2011 as well – no water over almost a 5km stretch from the beginning of the Rajiv Gandhi bridge to the end of it !!

Last year I could see several hardcore runners struggling – almost everyone was straggling for sure. The sun was at its hottest, the breeze surprisingly had stopped blowing and throats were parched dry.

This is an appeal to the organisers – PLEASE HAVE WATER STATIONS ON THE BRIDGE – or at least make sure that at the station before the bridge the volunteers ask people to carry water with them for the next 5 kms or so.

More cribs coming…..

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