The Mumbai Marathon - A Gatecrashing Experience

The Standard chartered Mumbai Marathon took place yesterday, and the papers are full of Marathon News – about the celebrities, the figures, the statistics, the problems, the heroes… and so on and so forth. Here is an experience of none of the above – a group of young girls, who, unable to register for the marathon (the registrations were over even before we awoke to the fact that they were open!), decided to gate crash and participate in the event nevertheless! The group consisted of my sister Kanthi and her friends Manasi and Pranali. Here is their experience in their own words……….
     

The Mumbai Marathon - An unforgettable Experience


This is the first time I am trying to write my experience which will be posted on the net! Warning to all my sister’s blog friends: I am not as good writer as my sister, so bear with my English!!! The reason I am writing this article instead of my sis is that I participated in the Mumbai marathon which was held on 17th Jan ’10. Moreover I gate crashed in the marathon’s 6 Km Dream Run!
    
   I always wanted to be a part of this wonderful event ever since my dad took me along 2 years ago. But somehow I couldn’t participate last year due to registration problems etc. This year I had made up my mind to run for Mumbai by hook or by crook (my dad actually encouraged me to do so!). When one decides to bend certain rules, he prefers to have company! So, I persuaded my best friends, Manasi and Pranali to come with me. All three of us made grand plans and carried along a huge amount of food, as if we were going for a 2 day picnic! We had plans to go with my father, who was also participating in the Dream Run through his office. We planned to leave my house at 5.30am.

There were number of hurdles to come between us and our marathon.

The 1st one was – getting up at 4.30 AM!!! Don’t be surprised, because left to ourselves, we sleep till 10 on Sundays. To overcome this one, my friends planned to sleep over at my house, since my mom religiously gets up at 4.00 AM every single day, and she would somehow manage to wake us up too!

Overcoming the first hurdle, we left our house and caught a CST bound train from Thane station, our excitement mixed with anticipation of being able to get inside the Azad Maidan gate – the main entry point for the Dream Run participants! That was our 2nd hurdle. We started planning our excuses and methods of escaping from the security staff. We met the team at Metro and felt relieved when we saw more than 60 people standing from the company alone. We thought we could mingle with them and enter. But to our surprise, without much checking they let us in! What an achievement! Wow!

We started clicking pics and roaming here and there, unaware of our next biggest hurdle. Inside the maidan there was more segregation which needed the bib (with the registered number)! OH my god! Now what to do? We asked help from the team, but they discouraged us and pleaded their inability to help us. So we ran out of the maidan undecided, confused and hurt. But seeing all the paparazzi our spirits rose and our determination to enter the race became stronger.

We tried to find loop holes in the security system, but our timing was very wrong. The half and the full marathons were just beginning to end, so there was heavy security. We walked from Xavier’s college crossing Cama hospital till CST station, but in vain, for we just couldn’t reach the starting point of the race! (What really rankled was the fact that more than just being the starting point, it was the place where John Abraham stands!)

Realizing that if we wanted to participate, we would need to enter from some other place, we retraced our steps towards Flora Fountain, and we didn’t know the way! (Note from Anu – can you believe it?? These are college going girls, born and brought up in Bombay, and they still have trouble finding their way!!!!).

Asking and guessing the route, we reached the junction. To our dismay there were even more policemen there than at the starting point. But somehow we stood posing with our cameras, praying for an early start of the Dream Run! (I would like to tell you all that by that time we had already walked about 4kms!)

Standing there, we realized we were actually witnessing one of the proudest events in the history of our very own Mumbai. We were always there to criticize whenever Mumbai faltered, be it the 26/7 rain disaster or train blasts 4 years ago or the recent 26/11 attack. But somehow I don’t remember even a day when Mumbai made me proud! (There would have been days, but not in my memory). On that day, standing there, seeing everyone running for some or the other cause made me a stronger Mumbai-ite. No wonder people who come here never want to go back! I wish politicians understood that!

You have to personally witness it to understand my feelings, because we saw so many impossible things happening in front of our eyes that it puts us to shame, for if people can do such things with all their problems, what right do we have to complain about not having any luck in our lives!!! Wheelchairs, crutches, blindness, nothing hindered those people who are less fortunate than us. Hats off to those who ran despite all odds! The young, the old and the crippled ran side by side. They all ran not for themselves, but for someone else! Truly every Mumbai-ite ran for Mumbai, and as I write this, I would like to clarify that ‘Mumbai-ite’ didn’t mean just people from this city. The term was for all those who participated directly or indirectly in this event.

Ok, that’s enough of sentiments! As a teenager, I was more interested in all the people I saw – not just those who made a point, but all the celebrities too! I got to see many of the celebrities who were running or just encouraging the runners! More than just seeing them, I actually shook hands with a few!!!!!! Among those whom we saw were Tara Sharma, Rahul Bose, Mr. & Mrs. Hiranandani, Harsha bogle, Sanjeev Kapoor, Anand Mahindra, Police commissioner Mr. Sivanand and Aditi Gowatrikar. (Anu’s note: I am sure that if only any of these people would have stood still for a minute instead of running, my sister would have been the first to rush towards them with an autograph book. She already has a good collection of autographs – an interest she gets from my mom!)

Waiting at the junction, watching groups of people run past, cheering them on, our excitement waned as my dad didn’t appear, and neither did anyone from his group!. After many desperate calls we officially gate crashed the dream run!!!!! We went click…click… click… all the way!

Since we were not from the any company or team, we cheered anyone and everyone with whom we walked. We even took photos at the Marine drive and danced with the DJs and RJs along the way. All along the way, we had to find different ways of escaping from those who asked us for our bib. When saw the finish line, we didn’t care for anyone! Just cheered each other and experienced euphoria!

But as rule breakers, it was inevitable that we would be questioned by somebody or the other, and that somebody caught us totally off guard and embarrassed! No, it wasn’t anyone from the security but a person from Catering dept.!!! This is how it happened - For all the runners there was a package containing an orange, an apple (which was very juicy), Horlicks biscuits, Horlicks Nutri-Bar and water. When Manasi and I went to claim our share, the girl noticed that our bib was missing. When she asked us, we faltered, as we hadn’t planned for this! But to our luck, I had already taken the pack, so all she could do was to ask Manasi to share with me! We came out and laughed loudly!!! My dad took extra advantage of having the bib and went and got an extra pack for Manasi!!!!!  (Anu’s note: God! These girls actually managed to get the food too… in spite of carrying along food and gate crashing!!)

Our day came to an end when we dragged ourselves to CST station and sat in a local train. But somehow we weren’t too tired, so we took out our cameras and started commenting on all the pics and promising ourselves to show off all the pics on facebook!!!

After all, the bottom line is: every person wants to gets his/her share of the lime light!!!

I am really thankful to my sis because of whom I sat and wrote my experience. This helped me improve my English grammar!!!!! Thanks a lot akka.


- Kanthi



Note: It took a lot of encouragement and pestering for Kanthi to write this down, and she has done it only because I promised to edit it, keeping as far as possible to her narrative. I hope all of you liked this one……..


Incidentally, my hubby too wasn’t able to register, and decided to gate crash too, but not for the Dream Run, but the Half Marathon!!! Now that is one experience you are not going to get to read, for he certainly isn’t going to write about it! He obviously couldn’t enter at the starting point, or finish at the finishing line, but he did run on the route, and managed to cover the distance! What a family we are! A family of gate crashers!!!

 Take a look at the slideshow below for her photographs, or you can see all the pics here.





Comments

  1. Gate crashing is in vogue these days. :)
    Great read. Do share more.

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  2. I really loved Kanthi's account.. is so much fun all that she and her friends did.. makes me want to go back to that phase of life again.. sighhhh.. great pics as well Anu..

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  3. Wonderful, getting up at 4:30 to participate in such a nice event.

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  4. Heartwarming! I'm sure you girls will make it the next time around. Good luck! I missed Chennai Marathon this year and I'm hoping to do it next year... by hook or crook! :) thanks for the encouragement. Jai Hind!

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  5. Sure sounded like Kanthi and her friends had a whale of a time..even if it was thru gate crashing!!

    Lolz, ur hubby also gate crashed??!! quite a family u r..

    lovely shots...:)

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  6. Haha...the recount of these young girls is lovely.

    For any marathon, registration is done months in advance!

    I was able to see the New York Marathon on Nov 1st from York Street, Manhanttan. Milind Soman participated in it.

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  7. Lol! Kanthi! You wrote all that! And I didn't know Shankar gatecrashed! Doesn't he run every year?

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