Azad Maidan, which usually plays host to protest rallies and cricketers, wore an air of festivity on Sunday as runners of the Mumbai Marathon gathered at the ground.
The 11th edition of the Mumbai Marathon saw a record turnout cutting across classes. As many as 39,510 participants thronged Azad Maidan in the morning, half of whom had registered for the seven-km Dream Run. Five runners were hospitalised, while over 3,000 athletes were treated at the venue, organisers said.
“The experience of running the Mumbai Marathon is second to none. People here are friendly and encouraging. We wanted to give up but people egged us on. We’ve participated in marathons in other parts of the country. They may have been better organised, but peoples’ warmth made up for it,” said Bhageerathy Vaidyanathan from Kerala who ran the full marathon.
The marathon also saw a display of sorts with participants raising awareness for the causes they believe in. A riot colour and drama greeted tired athletes as they triumphantly traversed the finish line.
Among these were the volunteers of the Aam Aadmi Party, who came for the Marathon armed with brooms. “Around 20 of us from units across the city decided to participate — for the first time — under the party banner. We planned to start the Dream Run at the end of the pack and sweep everything with our brooms,” said Mushtak Guzaria, a member of the party’s Byculla block.
Nagpada resident Sujata Silam, 55, an employee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), came dressed in fresh vegetables. She was campaigning for vegetarianism.
Silam, who works in the civic assessment and collection (Octroi) department, participated in the Dream Run. She wore bangles of sliced bell peppers, a necklace of tendli, green peas, baby corn and chillies, and earrings of designer-cut radishes. “Today’s generation has unhealthy eating habits and no exercise regimen. I walk regularly from CST to Byculla. If children go vegetarian, they will be healthy and lean,” Silam said.
Nitin Dhumal, 45, wore a pink octopus costume to crusade against corruption.