By: Ayush Jain (L&T MHPS)
Running is a passion for me. It is the fuel that drives me. Prior to Mumbai, I had completed three Half Marathons (HMs) in different terrains and weather conditions. Cherrapunjee was all about relentless rain and screeching winds; Shimla was full of backbreaking slopes; and Delhi was a flat terrain with a nippy chill in the air. After having tested myself in all of the above conditions, it was time for a slightly different ballgame.
It was time for the Mumbai Half Marathon, the most famed and prestigious half marathon in the country.
Since this was my 4th HM and on a relatively flat terrain, I had expected this to be an easier one compared to my previous experiences. But Mumbai had other plans for me.
Scheduled to start at sharp 5.40 am, the organizers were bang on time and HM began with scores of people running on the streets. Unable to run at my desired pace, the first few km presented a great challenge as I had to manoeuvre my way through the crowd. It was not until I had run a full 2-3 km that I could get a clear path to run at the pace I wanted.
The early part of the race involves running on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link for around 6 km. Where I was expecting coolness of the sea and a light breeze to soothe the nerves, I was hit back with dampness and humidity. The suffocation and the scarce lighting made it all the more taxing. I was not expecting a walk in the park, but this was going to be one tough nut to crack.
As soon as we exited the sea link, a cool breeze wafted in our direction offering some respite. As I laboured on, the runner inside was again raring to go, determined to crush the challenge that lay ahead. The pace increased as I was soon approaching the 15 km mark. But the humidity started affecting me and my pace slowed down. Trying to maintain a steady pace of 6 m 30 secs over the next 4 km, my will helped me cross the 19 km mark with a decent pace.
Then came the 19.5 km mark. By this point, the humidity and fatigue had taken a toll on my body. My body aching for a rest was telling me to stop running and start walking. But my mind was not letting me give in. I had never walked in a half marathon and I was not going to start now. With the nearby people cheering on, music encouraging the runners to go on, I dug into the last reserves of my energy and kept running. I made up mind to achieve small targets of 200 m over the next 1.6 km and finally the finish line was in sight. Sprinting the last 100 m, I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 13 minutes, slightly slower than my personal best.
What was heartening was the spirit of the Mumbai crowd as they cheered and supported the runners in their endeavor. People were on out on the streets at 6 am on a Sunday (this is a feat in itself!) spurring on people, putting up banners, offering runners all sorts of beverages, nutritious eats, wet towels, water, sponges, and clapping and hooting. One really feels motivated and there is this sense of appreciation for the spirit of this city.
I highly recommend anyone and everyone, whether you run or not to take part in this running fiesta and be treated to an experience and challenge of a lifetime.
Ayush is an active member of Team Enlightenment taking care of the Reviews section. He takes interest in participating in Marathons and has done the same all over India. He also enjoys quizzing, reading, blogging and music.