Less than two months after the deadly terror attacks in the city,thousands of enthusiastic people from all walks of life on Sunday took part in the ‘Mumbai Marathon for peace’,the first major event in the metropolis after the 26/11 tragedy.
The mood was upbeat as participants,dressed in colourful caps and tracksuits,pervaded the city’s western thoroughfare which formed most of the route for the gruelling 42.195-km event.
The race commenced at the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus,one of the landmarks targeted in the terror strikes,and ended at the same venue after the athletes touched another site of the November 26 attacks – the Trident Hotel – on their way.
The participants raced their way past Haji Ali junction,Worli Sea Face,Siddhivinayak temple and Bandra Reclamation as thousands of onlookers with placards and slogans cheered them.
Chants of ‘Run Mumbai Run’ could be heard throughout the course.
“We are not here to win any prize but to enjoy the crowd and the moment. We are here to live the Mumbai spirit,” said Kiran Jagdale,a resident of central Mumbai who had come from Vikhroli to witness the sporting event.
“I have always kept myself fit but wanted to test whether I could endure the challenge of the competition,” said 45-year old Mangala Kulkarni,who participated in the 7-km Dream Run contest said.
There were also events earmarked for senior citizens and physically handicapped contestants as a huge crowd turned out along the route,underscoring the silent resolve of Mumbaikars after the terror incident.
“I have never witnessed such a turnout since the I began participating. There seemed more people cheered us than ever before,” said a surprised Kavita Raut,who successfully defended her half marathon crown.
Not to be outdone,a host of celebrities also took to the streets to further various causes.
“This is not about celebrations but to show our solidarity and that we are all together as one,crisis or not,” said Tina Ambani,wife of industrialist Anil Ambani.
“I salute Mumbai. It is very powerful and is never going to get scared. The people are showing that the intension behind the attacks has failed,” said renowned actor Om Puri,who was among several eminent personalities who took part in the event.
Film Director Nagesh Kukunoor said he had been part of the marathon for four years but this time the run was more important.
“I do believe just by merely showing up here it means a lot and clearly shows that the city is never going to die,” he said.
Three-time Olympic gold medallist sprinter Gail Devers,former India hockey skipper Dhanraj Pillay,Bollywood actors John Abraham and Rahul Bose and model Milind Soman,director Ashutosh Gowariker and former Indian cricketer Anil Kumble were some of the eminent personalities who took part in the marathon.