Registrations for the Mumbai Marathon opened up this a few days ago, and my father and I promptly filled up our registration forms. My father registered for the Half Marathon, and I registered for the Full Marathon.
There’s a special connection that I have with the Mumbai Marathon. Not only is it my ‘home marathon’ (the Start Line is 15 minutes from my house), but it marks the day that the city gathers to watch us runners do our ‘little thing’. The feeling of being cheered on by your friends and loved ones is extremely special, and you always want to run a little faster, because you don’t want to let them down. At the Start Line, I meet a lot of my fellow runners, and we high-five each other in anticipation of the grueling yet exciting 42 kilometres that lie ahead of us. The evening prior, I meet a few friends and hand out GU Gels to them. They assure me that they will wait on the streets to cheer me on, hug me, and hand me my beloved GU Gel. Every year, my father and I wait for this one day… The day the city runs together.
I first took part in this event as a 12 year old (2006), when I ran the Dream Run (7 kms). “Armed” with Gatorade in both hands, 7 kms back then seemed like a monumental effort. But I enjoyed every moment of it. Along the way, I saw several celebrities, and I looked at them, dreamy-eyed. Just completing the Dream Run was such a big high, I felt as if I was on Cloud Nine!
But then two Dream Runs (7 kms) and three Half Marathons (21 Kms) later, I decided that it was time to run the Full Marathon. I remember how my parents were completely against the idea, and friends laughed at me for ‘dreaming too much’. At that point, I only paid attention to whatever the coach and other marathoners had to say. I gave it a shot, I trained hard, and completed in 4:28:01. (You can read about my marathon exploits on: )
The best part about running your first marathon in your home city, is that you have support all along the way. I passed my house twice along the way, and the neighbours shout fanatically each time I wave out to them along the way. They secretly want to do what you’re doing, and they too want to be running on the road, pumping all that adrenaline. But they’re too scared to admit it. And that’s where I tell them that I am in training mode 365 days of the year. That’s what a marathon takes. The pain during the climb makes the view from the top that much more beautiful.
I love the Mumbai Marathon because at every part along the way, at every turn that comes by, you’ve got support that is unmatched. Let me give you an example: At the 28th km, I was beginning to feel the pain in my thighs. It was too soon to begin to feel tired, and so I forced myself to cut the pace. A little child standing on the streets with his mother noticed the pain from the look on my face, and immediately ran upto me with some biscuits. I politely refused (because I had never tried biscuits on a long run before), but I felt better by the simple knowledge that I was probably setting an example for a future runner, and that spurred me on.
My father (Hemant Muthiyan) has been running the Half Marathon since its inception, and ran his 10th half this year. He was mentioned in the Standard Chartered Marathon Hall of Fame, and it’s been one of his greatest running conquests. My mother cannot survive without her daily hour-long walk, and together, we are a family which is addicted to putting on the shoes at 5am and heading out into nirvana.
Come 19th January 2014, my father will be running the half, and I will be running the full. My mother will be hooting and cheering for us, and so many other runners like us. There’s a special feeling associated with coming back home with the completion medal. At social events, my friends introduce me as the ‘maniac who ran the marathon’. I smile, and sometimes even beam with pride. Recently, one of my friends told me that he always aspires to be like me, but is scared of the hard work. I didn’t give him too much gyaan, but it just felt good to know that people look up to you after the marathon.
Come to think of it, running is not hard work. It’s just a part of your lifestyle. But it’s good to have a day when the city shuts down, and you can show everyone just how well you’ve been doing those long runs.