Sunday, 29 January 2012

My experiences at the Bangalore International Midnight Marathon on 14.12.2011

Here's my report of the Bangalore Intn'l Midnight Marathon. I was low on motivation, having completed 100K at BU less than a month ago and SCMM less than a month away. Most of the runners had given it a miss. The thought of running on one side of a 2-lane in a busy neighbourhood was looming large. Having registered long back reached the venue or i thought so at 11:15PM. Seeing no notices or activity i panicked, more than me, my wife, whose motivation in accompanying me, i cannot fathom except to be of assistance to her mate. Last year she had the company of our daughter who is away in US currently. I rang up Mr Kadam, the only number i had, thanks to the slip on the part of BIMM is putting this in a newspaper note, though, i learnt from him that he was involved with this event last year. He was kind enough to guide me to the venue. I must digress here to sound a discordant note, the BIMM, organised in the heart of IT hub, with so many techies participating, i found the BIMM website as the most unfriendly. There are no contact numbers, and it is really unfriendly for an outstation runner. Thanks to Kadam, i made it to the venue at 11:30 PM. You think that was excitement enough for a night, you have more coming, my colleague at B'lore had got my bib collected which my office driver carried with him when he came to take me to the venue. My wife observed that the bib issued was for a HM and not the FM i had registered for. Imagine my disappointment, it was like serving limited meals to one used to an unlimited thali. Immediately on reaching the venue we rushed to the registration counter where two helpful ladies got into the act and i was given my bib no. 047. I rushed to the start line after putting on the timing chip just in time for the start. I couldn't see the race route and i couldn't take proper leave of my wife. We normally take a pre-race photo for the facebook. Oh yeah, i forgot, i found a young admirer who accosted me and said that he recognized from BU and that he had seen my photo of having finished the 100K. I thanked him and said that we will talk when we meet on the track, he was running an HM. I reached the start line just in time for the start. In all this I had completely missed, Pani Sir, whose number I had not taken and I was hoping to locate him with the aid of my having seen his profile photo on DM. Sorry, Pani Sir, hopefully better luck next time.
The race started and I found that the atmosphere got to me; I was running much faster than my usual slow start, which substitutes for my warm-up. The Bhangra music and the crowd were overpowering and I was reminded of the ADHM race and Delhi. I realized I had forgotten my head-band. I finished my first lap of 4.2 KM in less than 20 mts. I located my wife while entering the start point, and she was holding out my head-band to me. The section next to the start point was very enthusiastic and I struck a chord with them calling out the lap number to them.
Into my second lap, I consciously slowed down and tried concentrating on my breathing and my foot-strikes. I knew that, this, otherwise will hamper me later. Met Sundar Purush and Nari from Chennai and I felt at home. The affection and admiration of the Chennai runners for me is spontaneous and heart-warming. Thanks Sundar and Nari. Many people recognized and I gave an answering smile and the rhythm set in. The track had stretches of ups and downs but the top was very smooth and I was even tempted to go barefoot. I exhorted the runners whom I crossed on the way to cheer each other and smile.  I found that though Bangalore is not blessed with the midnight Sun, its audacity in holding a Midnight Marathon rivaling Norway, which is blessed by a Sun, by banking on the mass of youngsters’ smiles, was typical of the new found Indian confidence. Half-way into my second lap, the African express of the lead runners crossed me from behind. In this situation, I am normally torn between admiring the grace and beauty of their running and the envy deep inside me. The admiration won and I cheered them on, they ran on mechanically, maybe for them it was all in a day’s work and they could not realize what I was making so much fuss about. I caught up with a Chennai runner, sorry mate I forgot your name, with whom I had a good discussion about why we run and the relaxed approach we follow compared to these International Pros. When he mentioned how we run for fun and how at the turning, the lady African runner pushed him. He mentioned that he caught up with her to discipline her. I should have asked him if he asked her ‘Why this Kolaveri Di…’
The aid stations were well laid out. The staff manning aid stations was very cheerful and polite. The ambulance with medical staff and traffic policemen were there in sufficient numbers. My wife tells me that the place for the cheering squads was also very comfortable. Organizers deserve Full marks for this.
The run for the next few laps was mechanical except for the regularity of high fives by the Chennai duo of Sundar and Nari. The crowd thinned out with the HM completing their bit and some unfortunate drop-outs. A word for the people who were cheering us, some of them had stayed back after completing their races. Their enthusiasm and the full moon, having shaken off the eclipse, must have been more than a match for the midnight sun. I tried to keep the drummers belting out Bhangra numbers from flagging by cheering them every time I approached them. The policemen had a smile for the runners whenever we crossed them. This event can easily match SCMM in its crowd response. Viva Bengaluru!
Now I started stopping at the turning at mid point and walking to change direction in addition to one drink stop in each loop. The weather still allowed me the luxury of running non-stop, but the gradient was starting to take its toll. I could see stragglers increasing in numbers. The answering smile was resigned and laboured. I must say the crowd at the start point did not thin and their enthusiasm and cheering volume kept rising with the night. They started calling out to me as soon as I was visible at the entry point and cheered me on till I was visible to them.
I had now reached my last lap, I offered each cheering person to accompany me on the ‘victory lap’. To my surprise one of the girls picked up her footwear and told me that she will accompany me barefoot on my last lap. She must have been my daughter’s age, and I was reminded of my daughter who had offered last year to run the last lap in the BU, which was sadly aborted because of time over-run. Her name she said was Veera (hope I got it right), she said she wanted to run a marathon and that she does 5K. She beautifully paced me on the last lap at 10kmph, and I could run the entire lap non-stop without even a drinks break. Thank you Veera, had I caught you earlier, maybe, I would have had a sub 4 finish. Wishing you your first Marathon soon. All in all I had a satisfied outing.

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