Mumbaikars pour out in droves for Marathon 2009

January 18th, 2009 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Jan 18 (IANS) It was a mild winter morning which attracted thousands - participants and cheering crowds - at various locations in south, central and western Mumbai for the VIth Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2009. The venue outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus wore a busy and festive look, unusual for a Sunday when commuters prefer to avoid suburban train travel. Maharashtra Governor S.C. Jamir flagged off the Half Marathon around 7 a.m., the Main Marathon started at 7.45 a.m., and later all the other categories took to the race.

Many Mumbaikars came out almost as if in defiance - the first time for a common purpose - after the dastardly terror attacks of Nov 26 last year; CST, the venue for the inauguration, was among the main targets.

Sunday morning, under tight security deployed by the Mumbai Police and air cover provided by three helicopters, Mumbaikars and many foreign nationals ran to their heart’s content.

A first-timer, working woman-cum-home maker Vidnya Shambhoo also participated. She started from her home in Gamdevi, around 5 km away from CST at 6.30 am to reach well in time and joined the Women’s Marathon category.

“Unfortunately, I am not trained for such a tough sport, I almost collapsed and left at Chowpatty Beach,” she said. Vidnya’s husband Tushar followed her at a distance on his motorcycle with their two-year old son Dhruv riding pillion.

The organisers were praised for the excellent arrangements on the entire 42-km route with volunteers providing drinking water and directions to the runners.

Pravin Kumar Jain, a businessman from Tardeo, was left out far behind in the Half Marathon, but he was helped by the wayside volunteers to take the correct route.

“I could make it only up to Kemps Corner, then I dropped out,” he said.

Jain, who also ran two years ago, felt that the crowds were thinner this year compared to the previous occasions.

“Maybe, many preferred to watch it live on television, or they may have had apprehensions of coming on the roads. Though there were more celebrities, I feel the general crowds, especially youngsters, were fewer than in the past,” Jain told IANS.

Marathi films and events music director Kaushal Inamdar left his home in suburban Goregaon in north-west Mumbai at 5 a.m. to ensure he was well in time for the 21-km Half Marathon.

“This is the first time I made such a major effort but I was requested to run for a cause - raising awareness for a social organisation, Men Against Violence & Abuse (MAVA). Last year, Bollywood director Ashutosh Gowariker had run for MAVA, this year I made the attempt,” he told IANS after reaching home, weary but happy.

A senior citizen from Nagpada, Sharadbhai Parekh, who came to cheer his senior friends running in the race and even walked a couple of kilometres, came away feeling highly inspired by the experience.

“Yes, this is definitely a very good event. I have decided to start preparing for Marathon 2010 and shall take part in it,” he said.

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