10 reasons the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is worth it

I ran the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon this year on 19th Jan, 2014 for the fifth time, having run all versions from the year 2010 onward. Like all the past versions, this year too was an amazing experience for me right from training for it, reaching Mumbai, collecting the racer kit, meeting fellow runners and eventually & inevitably running the marathon. After I came back to Bangalore, I kind of got into a mode  of missing the  Mumbai marathon as an event, as a challenge and as an opportunity. I have been wanting to blog properly for a very long time  and hence this post.  According to me, here are 10 reasons why everyone should  run the Mumbai marathon once, twice and forever:

10) The city : Mumbai
Every time you come to Mumbai, the energy and the frenzy of the city is bound to fill you up. If you arrive a day before the run, you will most likely feel that you are a day late; that coming to Mumbai on Friday would have given you some more time with the city.

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9) Sea – link
As a kid and as a grown up runner as well, I always try to visualize how long a km looks like looking far ahead. Basically, if your eyes can visualize it, it makes the km look a tiny distance. The best part of running on the sea-link is that you get to almost see 1 km of “runnable” stretch in front of you. And that can be exciting!

And the best part: You get to run on the sea-link toll-free without a speed-limit.

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8)Well-organized
The run is beautifully organized right from bib collection, entry into the holding area(pre-run area for runners), baggage counters to the availability of water/electrolyte drinks during the course.

7) Encouragement on Peddar road
During running, there is nothing more soothing than good looking ladies(& others) cheering you up at the Peddar road(around the 36km mark) flyover. Married or unmarried, young or old, beginner or expert, a male is a male and an array of beautiful smiles definitely helps in forgetting the pain you are experiencing at the 36-37km mark. I haven’t noticed much machoism in the audience for our female runners, though that can be attributed to selective spotting!

6)Kids with biscuits,chocolates, enthusiasm and so much raw love
This year, after the 24 km mark, the Mumbai Marathon was an unintended run-walk routine for me. It was a struggle to say the least. But I didn’t want to get bitter and decided to enjoy the run-walk with whatever good food I could spot. Although there were people of all ages offering all sorts of nice stuff to eat, there were so many kids(of all sections of the society) offering biscuits, chocolates, oranges, candies etc to almost each passing runner with an enthusiasm so pure, you would want to hug them and carry them. Some of them chased down some runners if they sensed that the person needed it but missed it. A not-to-miss experience!

5) Gold labelled run
The Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon is a Gold-labeled IAAF road race. It ranks as one of the best road races in the world, and if you are fast enough, like many of the Bangalore runners were this year, you can use this run’s time to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon.

4)A close glimpse of elite runners
Another advantage of the run-walk part was that I saw some real elite runners running past me. Nothing new, but the sight of elite runners with super strides and machine-like feel is something that fills you up with enthusiasm and definitely helps to increase the love for the sport!

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3)Vada pav

Although this is something which is an integral part of the Mumbai city, but then Mumbai is famous for its vada pavs and they taste so much better after a long run. Eat freely!

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2) Leopold Cafe
For those who haven’t heard of this, the Leopold Cafe is a large and popular restaurant and bar in the Colaba area, and is buzzing with activity most of the time. Established in 1871, it was was one of the first sites attacked during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, and the cafe was also mentioned extensively in the novel Shantaram. There is almost this ritual amongst runners to finish their run and go have beer at Leopold. Leopold is “the” place for post-run parties, and gets very crowded and busy after the Mumbai marathon each year! Not to be missed!

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1) The aches, the emptiness & the resolve

Training for and running a marathon is a big project spanning months. There is planning, preparation, training and execution. All of this takes a toll on your mind and body, although an enriching one. I have run the Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon 5 times, and every time, I have felt the emptiness and the resolve much more than the aches. The emptiness of “what next?”, irrespective of how the run went. The emptiness that I will have to wait for 365 days to run the next version of this run. And then the resolve to do better, way better next year! The only difference being that the emptiness and resolve in the case of Mumbai Marathon are magnitudes larger.