Causes of many shades

The obvious exhaustion of running over 40 km and an overwhelming anxiety about delivering the news of a Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon would have been Pheidippides’...

Written by Bharat Sundaresan | Mumbai | Published:January 19, 2009 2:23 am

City runs for laptops,peace and those who did not run away

The obvious exhaustion of running over 40 km and an overwhelming anxiety about delivering the news of a Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon would have been Pheidippides’ main worries as he made his fabled run from Marathon to Athens in 450 BC. For the thousands of participants in the Mumbai Marathon 2009,who had to leave their homes in the early hours on Sunday,though,a number of roadblocks at key junctions on their route and a literal dog-fight for parking spots were some of the problems to contend with,even before they got to the eventual venue.

On most mornings,the subway connecting the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Azad Maidan is a world in itself,filled with people hurrying towards their workplaces and stylishly dressed teenagers making their way to St Xavier’s. But one look at it on Sunday was enough to prove that January 18 was not just another day. The perennial scurry was very much present,but most prominent were the designated numbers that almost every single person inside the subway sported proudly on their running gear. It seemed like the entire city was out as a whole to participate in what is one of the showcase events of the year.

The half-marathon may have kicked off the show,but it never really seemed to capture the imagination of those who weren’t involved with it. Most of the participants,who did manage to complete the race,had to be content with applauding for themselves,as the interest already had shifted towards the actual marathon. And the anticipation surrounding the Dream Run was slowly reaching a crescendo,as the time for the entrance of the various celebrities approached.

The Dream Run was always supposed to be the real eye-catching event,and the hundreds of stargazers who sacrificed their morning sleep to catch a glimpse of their idols weren’t disappointed. What they also got to witness though were a number of causes that were represented by the celebrities,which included the likes of former India captain Anil Kumble,and volunteers alike during the 6-km run,which most preferred to walk.

The recent terror attack brought together diverse people,some running the Dream Run to pay homage to the likes of the late Hemant Karkare. “We run for those who did not run away,” read a slogan,describing the mood succinctly. A few were even dressed as terrorists,and looked to make their point rather animatedly. And to add to the mix was a man who denounced violence in any form — the sixth edition of the marathon had its own Mahatma Gandhi.

While most of the placards held up by the various teams of the Corporate Challenge carried rather obvious messages,there were a few that caught the eye for their uniqueness. Amit Guggan carried one which bore Nicholas Negroponte’s ‘One Laptop Per Child’ slogan,and insisted that it was the only way forward in abolishing the digital divide between the rural and the urban parts of the country.

The mega-event also provided its fair share of individual oddballs,with Anshul Jain,who sported a farmer-like turban along with broken sunglasses and a tie hanging down his back. “The media in our country is very one-sided,and I am dressed like a mistaken journalist,” he revealed.

Even though Kenneth Mugara did receive scattered applause as he crossed the finish line in record time,both commentators and the audience alike seemed much more interested in the likes of John Abraham and Anil Ambani. But one A-grade celebrity,Milind Soman,who finally managed to complete the marathon,did express irritation at the prevailing attitude towards the event.

“During my run,a number of people shouted out to me and called me a hero. But the likes of John Kelai are the real heroes,” he insisted.

As legend has it,the Athenian herald did succumb to his death,as soon as he finished his historic run and uttered the magical words “We have won”. But this marathon ended with smiles on all faces,and with Mumbai’s spirit very much alive.

At worst,offices could suffer some absenteeism on Monday as participants wake up with sore backs and limbs.

View from the gallery
Runner collapses

A 21-year-old Japanese,running the Mumbai marathon the fourth time,collapsed in the 42-km full marathon event. Thileru Chiba was rushed to the Asian Heart Institute for dehydration and is on IV therapy. Two other runners were admitted to Jaslok hospital.

About 2,700 participants took recourse to medical aid at various camps. About 400 staffers including doctors,nurses and paramedics were deployed at the base camp and other eight camps on the 42-km stretch. “We set up field Intensive Care Units equipped with defibrillators,ventilator,IV therapy and other first aid material. Around 1,200 people were treated at the base camp at CST station and another 1,500 at other camps,” said Dr Vijay Dsilva from the Asian Heart Institute.

They were ferried in 12 ambulances. Many were treated for cramps,breathlessness,dehydration,bruises,exertion and other minor injuries. “The first person was rushed to the camp at around half past nine and the rush continued till two in the afternoon,” said Dr Dsilva.

Hawk eye
The marathon was conducted under heavy security,with personnel on specially erected watchtowers keeping tight vigil.

Celeb watch
Among celebrities present were actress Sharmila Tagore who said the cause — Peace in the Time of Terror— meant a lot to her. She was joined by daughter Soha Ali Khan. Marathon usual Tina Ambani was there to show solidarity as well,besides actors Om Puri,John Abraham,Tushar Kapoor,Rahul Bose and Arjun Rampal. Models Milind Soman and Aditi Govitrikar,cricketer Anil Kumble and directors Ashutosh Gowariker and Nagesh Kukunoor were also present.

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