For 61-year-old Sister Francisca Lobo the energy of the runners at the 16th Tata Mumbai Marathon held on Sunday was too high to resist. On her way to the morning mass at Villa Theresa High School on Peddar Road, the kidney patient, though not registered to run the Marathon, joined the runners from Peddar Road to the Metro Cinema Junction. Clad in a T-shirt and leggings, she ran the 4.5-km stretch in about two-and-a-half hours.
“Watching so many people run encouraged me. In the morning I felt unwell but now am I feeling so happy,” she said.
Adding 2,007 runners to its 2018 count, a record 46,414 runners participated in this year’s Mumbai Marathon. As many as 8,414 runners took part in the full marathon, 15,457 in half marath-on, 2,516 in timed 10K run, 17,661 in dream run, 1,005 in senior citizen’s run, and 1,301 in the champions with disability category.
Taking off with the 42-km full marathon at 5.30 am from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and back, runners across categories took their time to finish their stretches till about 2 pm.
Marathon Ambassador Mary Kom, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and wife Amruta Fadnavis, actors Gulshan Grover and Tina Ambani flagged off the event. While Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Chairman Anil Ambani ran the 21-km half marathon, model and fitness mascot, Milind Soman, ran the full marathon. Actors Rahul Bose and Tara Sharma also took part in the race.
“ It is amazing to see the congregation of such large number of people of all age and diverse fields, championing the cause which in turn becomes a celebration. The power of people and their enthusiasm lead one and all to fitness,” said Fadnavis.
While Ethiopian athlete Worknesh Alemu won in the women’s category, finishing with the timing of 2hours and 25 minutes, Cosmas Lagat from Kenya won the title in men’s category in 2 hours and 9 minutes.
Like every year, this year’s marathon was also replete with stories of courage and strength. One such story was of the dream run of Vaibhav Kadam (25), who was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2013 and who got off his medication only eight months back. “Few years ago, I had lost all hopes of recovering. Doctors told my mother that I had only a few days to live. I could hardly walk, my lungs were damaged and my gait was bent. But I feel grateful to Medicine Sans Frontiers, due to whom I survived, and completed my dream run,” he said.
Ashok Kumar, a Kargil war hero from Haryana, who has a metal rod fit into his thigh, was told he would never be able to run. “On July 25, 1999, a final combat took place between India and Pakistan at Kargil. We attacked them. In the counterattack, I lost six of my colleagues. A bomb then hit my leg and broke my bone, yet I had to stay at the post for two days,” recalls Kumar, who has been coming to take part in the dream run since last eight years.
Nearly 600 medical personnel were on marathon duty. While “drop boxes” were installed at several points, tetra cans, sponges and bottles were found piled up on the tracks and sideways. “Plastic bottles on the track made me and my teammates trip a couple of times,” said Vaishnavi Purhani (24).
Subhash Yadav was one of the first timers for half marathon. “During the run, I suffered from cramps in my legs. Luckily, medical help was available,” he said.
Chaithra N (28) ran the dream run with her 18-month-old daughter in the stroller. She has been taking part in the Mumbai Marathon for four years now. “I run every day with her in the stroller. So I thought why not in the marathon too,” she said. Chaithra crossed the finish line at Metro in 2 hours and 30 minutes, covering the 6-km distance of the dream run category.
“We wish the marathon had a separate category for wheelchair race rather than a combined champions for disability,” said Rahul Ramugade (30), a member of the Indian wheelchair cricket team.
Ramji Hari Bamgude, a 65-year-old Malad resident, was visibly enthused after a run in the senior citizen’s category. “I had some confusion about the route, which took up some time,” he said, adding that he will participate next year as well. This was the 11th year of participation for 87-year-old Harish Yadav. “I go on morning walks regularly for the last 46 years and I have been eating non-spicy food for the past 50 years,” he said.