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Conquering the Mumbai Marathon

The 15 time Mumbai Full Marathon finisher Girish Mallya talks to Protima Tiwary about what it takes to tackle the most prestigious marathon circuit in the country. 

When you meet Girish Mallya, you see a jovial, humble and super fit man, all of 42, with the energy that will put a 25-year-old to shame. We sit down to talk to him about his passion- running- because it is no secret that running to him is as important as breathing air. In fact, he has run the Mumbai Marathon 15 times till date! Aside from being a professional runner, Girish works in the publishing industry, and is fondly known to many as a mentor and friend. Finisher Magazine caught up with Girish Mallya to know more about the science of running, with the aim to inspire all those who’re gearing up for marathon season.

When did you run your first marathon?

My first race ever was the full marathon, in the first edition of the Mumbai Marathon in 2004.

What made you take up running professionally?

I have been running since the age of 15. My earliest recollection of running would be of completing 3km-5km runs thrice a week on a jogging track in Colaba Woods (Mumbai) This inspired me to take part in all the long distance races in India that were being held back then (sadly not too many) I also took part in adventure marathons. I slowly moved on to ultra-marathons but the game changer was the Marathon Des Sables, arguably one the toughest foot races on earth. The transition from being an amateur runner to a professional one happened in 2013 when I was preparing for the Marathon Des Sables Race and hoping to be the first Indian national to successfully complete this race.

This placed me in a professional category, and I received the support of many corporate firms who sponsored my runs, and I also diversified into giving motivational and fitness related talks at Corporate firms.

What has been the highlight of your marathon career?

It most definitely has to be the Marathon Des Sables (MDS) race in Morocco in 2013.

As a runner, what is the one quality that defines you?

It’s the ability to keep charging ahead, to never give up. Even if I am having a bad run day during a race, I power on and end up surprising myself. Giving up is never an option, not in a race, not in life.

What have you learnt from your best and worst races?

Best races teach you so much, but it is the bad ones that teach you even more. Best races will show you how strong you really are, and how to maximise your strengths. Bad races are important too. I have learnt an important life lesson in my bad races, and it is that failure is important. Bad races have taught me how to deal with failure. They have shown me how failure is a stepping stone towards success, and you need to keep on charging ahead to rebuild yourself. Running teaches you to believe in yourself.

 You’ve been running the Mumbai Marathon since its inception. You have now completed it 15 times! How has this marathon changed in the last few years?

It’s improved with each passing year! Initially, it used to start at 7:30 am, and today for the non-elite runners it starts at 5:40 am. I think that is a huge improvement. Even the size of the marathon has grown. From three-digit number of finishers to over 3000 finishers today, the participants have increased exponentially. It speaks volumes about the quality and management of the race.

Has your training changed in the last 15 years?

For me running is pure pleasure. I really do not run scientifically or train specifically. You’ll find me running an average of 50km per week, with 4 runs a week, all year round. Running is my stress buster, it calms me down when I am angry, and it makes me feel positive and invincible. I actually have withdrawals symptoms if I miss out on my run even for a week.

They say consistency is key. But how do you maintain this consistent pace throughout a run?

In running, a consistent pace is more about discipline than anything else. It’s about not pushing unreasonably and maintaining heart rate consistency, throughout your training runs. So that you can train your body to run better without pushing your HR. That is true endurance for me. You need to train at getting disciplined. You might have the energy to run fast, but you need the discipline to keep the energy in control in order to finish the race. This comes with practice of course.

What are the other training methods that you use to stay fit?

Strength building and core conditioning are important for a runner. I rely on free hand exercises and cross training to keep up overall strength levels.

How do you suggest training for the upcoming Mumbai Marathon?

I recommend you start with choosing your races carefully. You must aim at gradual improvement and distance and time. Choose from 10k, 21k or 42k and then start training with a certified trainer, a running group or even enroll for an online training program if that suits you because professional training will give you an insight into the technicalities that are required to run a marathon. With the help of certified experts, you can build a training program that suits your fitness levels.  If budget is a constraint, check out marathon training with Halhigdon that provides various training programs based on your fitness levels and timing goals.

How does one manage training in this corporate world, with “lack of time” bringing us all down? Where do we find the motivation from?

If it is important to you, you will be able to manage time for training! Just like you have time to eat or sleep, you need time for exercise too, it isn’t optional at all! Of course, schedules can get hectic and it isn’t always possible to enjoy a long run or intense gym session, but there are simple things that can make life easier. For example, choose a gym that’s close to your house. That way distance won’t get you lazy! Also, use public transport instead of personal transport (only if it is a practical option) as this ensures you walk around a small distance daily.  If budget isn’t a constraint, get a personal trainer who motivates you to get to the gym daily! Join a running group to stay motivated. Also, enjoy a workout that you like. Don’t join a gym because that’s the only way of getting fit. Do something that you love, and you will see that it is easier for you to motivate yourself. Try your hand at swimming, cycling, or try your hand at a sport like badminton, tennis, cricket etc. Experiment, and find something that doesn’t seem like you’re making an extra effort.

What’s your favorite track to run on?

I am an urban commuter, and urban roads are my favourite tracks.

How do you overcome negative thoughts while running a race?

Marathons don’t always go perfectly well, and negative thoughts do cross your mind once in a while. When the going gets tough, I usually find that the challenges have made the run interesting. I thrive on adversities, I take it one kilometre at a time but I complete the race. Never give up!

A marathon is a combination of mental and physical strength- any tips you’d like to share with us on how to stay strong during the race?

If you train hard and smart, that is more than half the job done. Before the race, sit down to review your strength and limitations, and mentally plan how to run the race (set your time, set distance milestones on your tracker) Also have a backup plan ready if in case things don’t go right; you might suffer a cramp or weather might not suit you, etc.  Go prepared, that’s all.

Leaves you inspired, doesn’t he? Follow @girishmallya on Twitter to know more about his experiences with life, the corporate world and running.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about traveling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

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Why run the Tata Mumbai Marathon?

Capt Seshadri explores why you should run the most prestigious marathon for Indian runners, the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

The seven islands of Mumbai, when seen as a whole, have a gap in between. Observe closely and you will see the gap as the profile of a runner. This has aptly been captured in the logo of the Tata Mumbai Marathon, an annual event which, like an irresistible magnet, draws 45,000 runners from all over India and from across continents. For those who have already participated, the itch to return is unavoidable; for those who haven’t, here is the bugle call.

On the third Sunday of January every year, the city wakes up to a riot of colours. Women and men, children and senior citizens, and even the disabled, leaning on crutches or being assisted in wheelchairs, all attired in colourful running gear, head to one destination – the Azad Maidan, and with one objective – to celebrate the freedom of running. The local trains and buses are filled with the excited chatter of groups of runners participating in different categories. The intrepid and the experienced will run the full 42 k in anything between 3 and 6 hours. Following them will be the half marathoners, the Open 10 k participants, dream runners covering 6.6 k, the senior citizens running over 4.7 k, and finally, the ‘champions with disabilities’ being cheered unceasingly over 2.1 km. Mumbai comes alive with its trademark spirit.

When it comes to the Tata Mumbai Marathon, or the TMM as it is popularly called, there is no reason to run; only an emotion to experience. Inspired by the London Marathon and with its first edition in 2004, it is today one of the world’s leading marathons, categorised as an IAAF Silver Label Road Race. On this day, elite Olympic and world class runners, business tycoons, celebrities and thousands of amateurs, rub sweaty shoulders to celebrate the spirit of freedom and to contribute to charity. The financial capital of the country opens its treasure chest with a huge heart. As India’s biggest charity platform, this event has, in 11 years, contributed an astounding USD 30 million and more.

This is the day to savour the sights of Mumbai on foot; something that can never be done from a motor vehicle in bustling traffic. The route rolls past the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the historic Flora Fountain, moves on to the Marine Drive, past Haji Ali and opens out on to the breathtaking view from the Bandra – Worli Sea Link. Crossing the halfway mark, the runners wind past Mahim Church, Jaslok Hospital, the Wankhede Stadium and almost up to Land’s End at Nariman Point. All along the route, cheering Mumbaikars, sacrificing their Sunday morning sleep, line up to encourage the runners, with bands playing popular tunes, folk dances and even an elderly Gujarati gentleman in a beret, playing on his harmonica. This is the true boost to the adrenaline, the real reason to run.

The TMM is probably one of the few marathons in the country that attracts runners and running clubs from every corner of the country. With participants from the deep south of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, from every metro and city in the country and even from far away Assam, it transcends the boundaries of mere running and morphs into a multi-cultural celebration of the spirit of participation.

Can you hear the bugle call?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Sea Link, Road Run

The just concluded 15th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018, a review by Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan. 

The pre-event

A mildly warm and humid Amchi Mumbai greeted us as we landed in the city for the 15th edition of the Mumbai Marathon, this year, the Tata Sons sponsored Tata Mumbai Marathon, or the TMM. Late morning of the eve of the run, our entry into the pre-event expo at the Bandra Kurla Centre was met with a massive crowd, many of them sporting T shirts with the slogan ‘I Move Mumbai’.

And Mumbai moved that morning, but rather slowly. A sea of humanity that would have put the holiday crowd at Chowpatty to shame, crammed into the narrow corridors between the seemingly unending rows of stalls, displaying and marketing literally everything from running gear and protein supplements, which one would rather expect, to insurance and customized software. Every stall was packed with eager runners and their families, the experienced ones networking and hobnobbing and the first timers eagerly seeking information and advice and investing in what was being propagated as the ideal running apparel and accessories. And as the marathoners of the next day collected their bibs and goody bags, they were treated to fun and games at the adjacent food court, serving delicious, freshly conjured up varieties of pasta.

And moving in the midst of all this was a figure who strode tall, who stood out with an unmistakable aura of greatness, the brand ambassador of TMM 2018, world champion pole vaulting legend Sergey Bubka.

The event

From as early as 4.00 in the morning, the suburban trains were packed with runners, mostly in groups, chattering away animatedly amidst much grinning and back slapping. The spirit of Mumbai was very much in evidence as those inside made space and welcomed the entrants at every station, till the trains pulled into the common destination of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. The Azad Maidan, which was the marshalling point for the event, had anything but an ‘azadi’ look about it as the crowds swelled in number every minute, selecting their respective entry points for the four events: the full and half marathons and the newly introduced 10k charity run and the senior citizen 6 km dream run.

The gates opened to much cheering and charged up adrenaline as the athletes assembled in their ‘buses’ with pacers sporting banners displaying the timing in which the group in the ‘bus’ hoped to complete the marathon, right between 2:45 and 6:00 hour durations. The Mumbaikers were everywhere. All along the route, from as early as 6.00 am, spectators in as varying age groups as a sprightly 75 to an excited 4 years lined up to cheer the participants. It did not matter that they knew them or not; every participant was encouraged with unflagging enthusiasm.

There were runners from all over the country and from abroad. The ‘elite’ runners, or the professionals in both the men’s and women’s categories, who were competing for medals and honours, were led as has become the norm, by the Ethiopians and Kenyans, with the top Indian runners hot on their heels. 45,000 runners in the four categories were backed all along the route with water, electrolytes and refreshments, with medical teams and ambulances on stand-by at designated points to cater to any emergency.

With the advent of dawn, the athletes were presented a panoramic view as they crossed the sea link, with the blue of the sky and the azure ocean melting in the distance. But as the early morning mist cleared and the warm sun rose in the skies, the increasing temperature and humidity began making it tougher for the runners, especially in the latter part of the race. Nothing deterred them however, as they literally put heart and soul into their legs all the way to the finish where they were received with thunderous applause from the spectators and fellow athletes alike. Fatigue and pain were forgotten for the moment as they sprinted across the finish line to receive their well-earned medals and refreshments. Celebrations were certainly on the cards as the finishers thronged the nearby pubs to quench their thirst with that most popular chilled beverage called beer!

Promises filled the air… promises to return the next year and once more be a part of this wonderful event called the Mumbai Marathon, a heady but healthy drug, an addiction and a magnet that will never stop attracting participants again and again and again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Tata Mumbai Marathon Routes

Are you running the Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) this weekend? Then make note of the routes you will explore on your run.

Full Marathon (Amateur & Elite) Routes

Please note that the amateur full marathon differs from the elite full marathon in terms of timing. The amateur race begins at 5:40am while the elite race begins at 7:10am. The start point for both is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT).

You will be running past the iconic Wankhede Stadium for cricket, the glorious Sea Link Bridge, the much-revered Siddhi Vinayak Temple and the Mahalaxmi Race Course before finishing again at CSMT.

The elites running this year include Solomon Deksisa, Chele Dechasa, Bornes Kitur and Amane Gobena to name a few.

 

 

 

 

Half Marathon & 10K Routes

 

The Half Marathon starts at 5:40am at Worli Diary. The route loops around the glorious Sea link bridge before finishing at the iconic CSMT.

 

The 10k route is a loop starting and finishing at CSMT, starting at 6:10am. The race route takes you past the Flora Fountain, Wankhede Stadium before turning and going by Charni Station before finishing at CSMT again.

 

 

 

 

Dream Run, Senior Run & Champions with Disability Routes

The Dream run route of approximately 6kms, starts at CSMT at 8:20am, loops at the Princess street flyover and finishes opposite to the Metro Big Cinemas.

The Senior Citizens route is a 4.3km run which begins at 7:25am at CSMT and finishes at the Metro Big Cinemas.

The Champions with Disability Run begins at CSMT at 7:45am and ends at MG Road covering a distance of 1.5kms.

 

 

Please note that all routes will be vehicle free and parking free so you need to plan your travel to and from the race.

The TMM is one of the most coveted marathons in India. So for all of you who have the opportunity to be part of it, run, enjoy and set new records.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information courtesy Procamrunning

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