Running enthusiast and Guest Columnist Tarun Walecha talks about why runners still dream of running the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon despite the smog warnings.
As the month of November begins, the running community in Delhi NCR has always been anxious and excited for the last few years now, and the reason is Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) which is scheduled for third week. We all know what this event means and what it has done to citizens of Delhi, so much that we now actually have a sizable number of people to be called a running community. Circa 2011, when the first thought of running came to my mind, it was because of the ADHM. For many of us who started running that year or before would recall how it was the annual pilgrimage, running one half marathon in a year and basking in it till the next one came. Like everything else running grew and now one could lose count of number of running events that keep happening all year round …but ADHM still remains the most coveted and loved.
The air around us
Not only the running community but the choice of events grew, with an expanding society we have seen many environmental changes as well. Of course most of them haven’t been good as they are clear signs of mismanagement on our part and overburdening of our natural resources. Northern plains in the entire Indian Peninsula have recently been plagued with smog and pollution due to mindless urbanization, automobile and industrial waste and seasonal crop stubble burning. With over 3,00,000 sq km of area affected from Lahore to Varanasi, children in villages, farmers on the fields, workers on the streets are suffering far more than the urban population which still has the access to preventive means such as masks, air conditioners and purifiers.
Love for ADHM
And what do we choose to do, with a huge lobby of emerging activists, medical practitioners and even some reputed runners raising the red flag, posting FB status updates, appearing on media only to target one running event which ironically is conducted with utmost care and concern for the runners. While everyone has a right to their opinion, what has been worse is that we as runners are having to choose between the two, and with few of our runners being on the other side the choice has certainly not been easy. Not to forget the participation to the event is non-mandatory and voluntary, you can skip if choose to. Activism against an event rather than at the cause of chaos isn’t helping anyone other than lowering morale of folks who have been training for months. Have we somewhere misjudged our priorities? … Is our effort really pointed towards making this a better world? … Do we really intend to make a positive change or forget everything post November 19th…
For now, all we need to think of is the big day is here, this Sunday will see us all on the roads of Delhi, running with our heart on our sleeve …. Weather God has been kind and the skies seem to be opening up…with the air clearing up I hope the sane voices would be heard again…and running would be just for the love of it.