It was somewhere around the end of July that I waited eagerly and patiently for the registrations for the Standard Charted Mumbai Marathon 2016, to open. As expected, the minute the registrations were open, the site crashed due to the sheer volume of traffic. Nevertheless, I waited it out and got the job done. I had officially registered for my first out of station run. Lalala!!!
Six months later… it was time to head to Mumbai for the run. To be honest, I had not trained like I should have. However, there was no missing this. So, there I was, with my bib picked up, the pictures taken, I got in my runner head space, and I was ready to hit the roads of Mumbai.
I started my run without any expectations from myself. Since I had not trained well, I had no goal and was there for the participation and the experience. What I didn’t expect was an experience so beautiful that I couldn’t help but share why this run stole my heart.
Although I have not been to the city much, I really enjoy being there. From the places, to the people, everything about Mumbai is so electric. No matter how many times I see the Gateway of India, The Taj Mahal Hotel behind it, CST Station, it always takes my breath away. There is always something so fantastical about the city. I doubt that I would ever survive in the city if I ever lived there, but I do like being the visitor.
The Route … and the Sea Link
Do you want to see the best parts of the city, run the Marathon! It will take you from CST station to Chowpatty, Haji Ali then to Bandra via the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, around Mahim Bay and back to CST via Worli Sea Face and Marine Drive. You do cover the highlights of the city.
I did the half marathon though, and I absolutely loved the route. Unlike the full marathoners, we had more time on the sea link.. which was my absolute favourite! This is probably the only time you will get to be on the sea link on foot with a whole bunch of nutcases like you. Running in silence and all you can hear is the thumping of footsteps and your heart beating in sync. As I ran past the iconic columns, I could feel myself at the edge of an emotional moment, taking the whole scene in. I was there… in Mumbai.. running the half marathon. There is no better to a runner than that.
The U-turn on the sea link was at the 5km mark. By the time the sky started changing colours, I was at the 7km mark and so humbled as the view of the city came to life before my eyes. The fishermen out in their dinghies in the water below you, the waters kissing a rocky landscape not too far away from where you are and the tall sky scrapers peeking from the early morning haze in the back ground… now that is a view I’d run those kilometers for any day.
Oh the people! If you have ever done an organized run, you know what a huge difference it makes to have people cheering for you. Mumbai takes this to a whole different level. Other than the sea link stretch, I don’t think there was any stretch that did not have men, women, kids cheering on you and giving you bottles of water, biscuits, chocolates, salt, name it! These guys are not the ones who just happen to have woken up early one Sunday morning and join in on all the crazy on the road. They come prepared. They have boxes of biscuits and water bottles. They have been planning for this. Dear people of Mumbai… you guys rock!!!
I know the Mumbaikars don’t really care about the stars, but I’m not a Mumbaikar and those who know me know that I am the most star starstruck person evaahhh!!! As soon as I get to Mumbai I have my eyes open and ready for celebrity sightings.
This year we got lucky and Hubby got a pic with his idol, actually everyone’s idol, Kapil Dev. (This was not during the run, it was two night before)
Now SCMM is known to be quite the star studded event. John Abraham being at the flag off did help getting the run started with good energy and a big smile on my face. Although I didn’t see any stars along my run, or perhaps I didn’t notice, my running buddy saw quite a few. (Psst.. he does know a lot more about Bollywood and Television than I do.. so…..) We did manage a pic with the very cute Tara Sharma after the run though.
The Runner’s High
Despite the aches and pains and the tendon strain, this was the most amazing run I’ve had in a long long time. I don’t remember the pain in my foot at the 19th km, I don’t remember barely being able to walk after the run, all I remember is the feeling of sheer happiness as one foot fell in front of the other. Perhaps I felt a lot more calm and free as I had not set a goal for myself. That, however, is not going to be the case next year. There are goals to be achieved the following year. (In case you haven’t noticed already, I have already decided that I’m coming back next year ;))
A photo posted by Pooja Deshpande (@abitofpooja_andalotofthat) on
Till next year Mumbai!
Also linking up to Emma’s monthly link up.. and this month it’s all about Love! I sure did love visiting a different city and running their (half) marathon!