AS many as 44,407 participants from 30 countries pounded the roads of south Mumbai to participate in the 15th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon Sunday. While 6,955 ran the full marathon, 14,950 runners participated in the 21-km Half Marathon, and 18,500 took part in the Dream Run and 1,652 signed up for the Timed 10k Run, a new category introduced this year. Among the participants were also 1,130 senior citizens and 1,220 disabled participants.
The victory was finally clinched by the Ethiopian runners Solomon Deksisa and Amane Gobena, clocking 2:09:34 and 2:25:49, respectively.
Among the Indian elite men, Gopi Thonakal (2:16:51) and his Army rival Nitendra Singh Rawat (2:16:54) finished just outside the top ten — claiming 11th and 12th places, respectively. The top three Indian women finishers were Sudha Singh (2:48:32), Jyoti Gawte (2:50:47) and Parul Chowdhary (2:50:47).
Some old-time runners expressed disappointment over the arrangements in place this time. “I felt there was lack of enough signboards to help us understand the directions. The food arrangements could have been made immediately after the runner finishes the race. The crowd was not managed,” said Nancy D’Souza who had come to support her husband running the Dream Run.
The holding areas near respective entry gates witnessed immense crowds at the beginning of the race. “It was almost a stampede situation. We had to climb some makeshift stairs and at the same time disperse from them. The space was narrow,” said a woman runner in the amateur category.
Dagadu Bamare, the 104-year-old star participant running his second Tata Mumbai Marathon, expressed doubt if he would return next year. “To reach the starting line of the marathon, we had to walk from CST all the way around to Metro Cinema due to the barricades. By the time we started the marathon, we had already walked around 2 km and were already exhausted. If they could make the entry directly from CST, it would have been much better for senior citizens. He (Bamare) has received the recognition he deserves. It is unlikely that he would want to do this another year,” said his son-in-law Subhash Wani.
The soaring temperatures was a concern too. In south Mumbai, the maximum temperature rose to 33.1 degrees Celsius, three notches above normal, and the minimum was recorded at 20 degrees. “By the time we ran half the marathon, the sun had risen and it became really hot. The temperatures seem quite high for a winter month,” said Swarupa Rao, who participated in the Half Marathon.
More than 200 traffic constables were positioned across the venue to control crowd movement. “We had to form human chains to disperse crowd in a proper way. While the crowd was heavy in the morning hours, rush reduced towards the end of the race,” said a constable. Runners also complained against lack of transport arrangements to ferry them from the venue to their homes. Regular commuters heading south also faced troubles to head home.
“How can they block the way to J J Hospital? I had to take a complete turn from the other side only to know the way was blocked. There was no volunteer to guide us,” said Shivaraj Singh, who was heading to the hospital. After food stalls around the venue opened around 9 am, runners rushed to grab some quick meals. “It was surprising to see so much crowd on a Sunday morning around south Mumbai. The marathon helped us make a good business on a holiday,” said Gopi V, who runs a sandwich stall outside Sterling Cinema at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
While many runners carried placards and banners to raise awareness about Swachh Bharat, the message seemed to be lost on the co-runners as the marathon left behind piles of litter. The BMC had a mammoth task at hand to clear it. “The garbage was found littered across the city and we had to make our staff work an extra shift to clear it. We collected at least four compactors of garbage weighing around 20 tonnes,” said Vijay Balamwar from the solid waste management department of BMC.