Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bangalore Running

Its running time again in Bangalore. 'Runners for Life' (RFL) (or its parent org - 'The Fuller Life') arranged the ultra-marathon on the outskirts of Bangalore. In a blatant show of strength, the KAF (Karnataka Athletics Federation) organized the Bangalore International Marathon on the same day. It was very easy for them to get a title sponsor quickly BSNL - India's largest telecom company. One Babu helping another Babu, I guess. Well, if you judge an event by its attendance, then KAF beat RFL fair and square. 150 participants for Full Marathon (including a substantial African contingent), 1000+ running the half marathon, and countless - really countless running the celebrity charity run of 5Kms, a wheel chair event, a senior citizen event and lots of flags. As if to re-assure themselves, it was announced time and again on the loud speaker that BSNL Bangalore International Marathon was a huge success.

In contrast, I will not even mention the numbers at the Ultra. The route of ultra-marathon in a 6.5 Kms laps around a private resort at Hesaraghatta. Yes, It is unthinkable to even ask Bangalore Police to lease the city's roads for ~8 hours. Still, the build up to the event was amazing. the schedule was announced an year in advance. An entry fees of Rs 1000/- meant that only serious folks enlisted. All of them pleasantly surprised on Thursday evening when each one of the runners received a branded running T-Shirt (MRP: Rs 800/-), a running water bottle (branded), and the entire rules brochure as part of the - runners kit. People were happy customers even before the run started :-)

Unlike, the ultra, the international marathon came cheaper. A flat Rs 100/- entry fees for all the disciplines and even free for special categories. Unsure of my fitness level this year (and looking at the entry fees), I chose KAF over RFL. I signed up for the 1/2 marathon - 21 odd Kms. This year's additional attraction at the marathon are - cheer girls and a live band playing jazz and starting on time. The race itself was found wanting in terms of organization. Even though the the Traffic Police tried their best, the unruly traffic of Bangalore got better of them at times. Water dried up at water points. Cheering crowd was hardly there (perhaps due to lacking publicity). Toilets were conveniently forgotten. The cavalcade of runners passed through Cubbon Park, Vidhana Soudha, GPO, Cubbon Road, Ulsoor Lake, Old Madaras Road up until Byappana Halli Junction and back the same route. While I was some where between the 8Km and 9Km mark, the leaders of the half marathon category zipped past me. Damn! they are fast. It was heartening to see that there were more Indians in the leading pack. 'Refreshment Points' ahead served oranges, biscuits and lime. Oranges are real energy boosters. Any way, at the end of a grueling 1 hour and 46 minutes, I was back at Kanteerava Stadium behind 98 runners. Perhaps being lighter helps.

Few things at the marathon left a lingering bad taste. On the loud speaker, it was being announced that running shoes belonging to an Ethiopian rider went missing (read: stolen). How can Bengaluru attract world class runners to such events if Bengalurinavaru behave so cheaply? Secondly, after about 2.5 hours of start of Half marathon, the full marathon leader entered the stadium. There was this joker running half marathon (behind about 200 guys) who got all inspired to chase the Full Marathoner. While the victory tape was held out for the full marathoner, this half-wit raises both his hands and cuts the ribbon as if he had won the event. The Kenyan had to follow the idiot's footsteps albeit Rs 2 Lakhs richer. The jack ass seemed like an IT dude. Just in case, he is reading it - "Shame on you!!". This is the reason, you will not see the Full Marathon finish in any media - print or TV. The people coming to sporting events must first be sportsmen in mind and only later in body.

PS: I was on TV9 News twice in the morning... As the day progressed, they concentrated on the finish and not on the race itself.


Gauthaman said...

Your time of 1h:46m is very impressive. I am ashamed of the Bangalore guy, who spoiled the party of the 42k run. real nuts!!
I agree Rs.1000 was to huge sum to pay for a run. But, the ultra race was organised to the best (now read the word 'best' 50 times). I had run Bangalore marathon in 2005 and one cannot draw an parallels with Bangalore Ultra. I agree, by sheer number BSNL marathon outnumbered ultra. Probably a point for RFL organisers, if they can slash the entry fee a bit, it will see more participants.

aishu said...

Impressive indeed! Congrats.

The half marathon jack ass act and the stolen shoe episode is so humiliating.Arrrrrghh !!

Know wat? I have signed up for my first marathon ever.Am running for the Bay area chapter of the 'India Literacy Programme' (ILP), half marathon ( 16 Miles) in April, 2008.Will need your guidelines.Catch ya soon.

Shubha said...

wow... great job!!! marathon.. biking... you are having a blast... way to go!!

Srikanth said...

Half marathon in 1h:46m :O
wow, great source of inspiration and perspiration! Dude, you rock !!!

During our school days you were not much of a "sports" guy. Feels extremely good to see you in this avatar as a fitness freak!

May you run and win many more marathons.....