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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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