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The Elite Athletic talent at the Tata Mumbai Marathon

Our Guest Columnist, Pramod Deshpande writes about some of the Elite Athletes who ran the iconic Tata Mumbai Marathon.

The “Maha Kumbha” of running in India, the “Tata Mumbai Marathon” (TMM) is just round the corner. Any endurance runner in India, amateur or elite, always dreams of participating in the Mumbai Marathon at least once in life and many make it their yearly pilgrimage.

The iconic status of this event has multiple reasons to its credit – the legendary support and encouragement runners get from the Mumbaikars, the magnitude of the event itself, the meticulous planning and execution of the event by the organizers and it is also the qualifying event for major events like Olympics, as it is IAAF Road Race Gold Label certified and therefore attracts great running talent.

However, majority of us are not aware of the great athletes who have participated in the event over the years, even the amateur runners who share the space with these great athletes are oblivious to them. I take this opportunity to write about some of the great athletes and their back stories who have participated in the TMM (in no particular order!).

The running standards followed by the TMM are a close match to that of the major global marathon standards. For example, the biggest marathon in the world is the New York Marathon and the course record in the Men’s category stands at 2:05:05 whereas in Mumbai it is 2:08:35. The same holds good in the Women’s category with the course record standing at 2:22:31 in New York and 2:24:33 in Mumbai. Incidentally both these Marathons are sponsored by The Tata group!

With respect to the Indian context, this event has provided a major platform to enhance the standards of marathon running in India. In 2012, the Indian runners managed an unprecedented feat wherein Ram Singh Yadav qualified for London Olympics and in 2016 for the Rio Olympics. In total we had 6 runners breach the qualification mark for Rio Olympics at the TMM event. This included 3 male athletes- Nitendra Singh Rawat, Gopi Thonakal and Kheta Ram and 3 female athletes – O.P. Jaisha, Lalita Babar and Sudha Singh. Just to put things in perspective, the only Indian who qualified for the Olympic Marathon prior to 2012 was the great Shivnath Singh in 1976.

With every edition, Mumbai Marathon has attracted the best international talent right from it’s inception.

In the second edition of the event, we saw Christopher Isegwe who secured the second place went on to win a silver medal in the IAAF World Championships at Helsinki the same year.

The first women to break the 2 hours 30 minutes barrier, Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia has been the most successful women athlete in the Mumbai Marathon winning the race in 2005, 2006 and in 2008. Her illustrious carrier spanned around 12 years, during which she won more than 30 Marathons and half marathons worldwide.

In the 2009 edition, we saw two great runners take the  podium – the winner, Kenneth Mburu Mungara(2:11:51), a great runner who over a decade from 2007 to 2018 has won 17 Marathons across the globe and a hat trick at the Gold Coast Marathon with a PB of 2:07:57. Then there’s John Ekiru Kelai who came third that year but by that time he was the most successful male athlete at Mumbai winning two editions back to back (2007 and 2008). He has achieved 10 podiums across various countries. India is a happy hunting ground for him as he became the Commonwealth champion during the Delhi commonwealth games in 2010.

Dinknesh Mekash is another great marathoner, who has won many marathons across the globe and started her Mumbai chapter by securing the second spot in 2013 and also won two titles in the year 2014 and 2015.

The Mumbai Marathon has had its fair share of maverick runners as well. Evans Rutto of Kenya, is one of them, as his entry into the marathon circuit was quite sensational. In 2003, as a debut runner he won the Chicago Marathon and established the fastest debut world record title by finishing the race in 2:05:50, which remained unbroken until 2017. He went on to win the London Marathon and Chicago Marathon for the second time. Unfortunately in 2005-06, an injury threatened his running career but he bounced back in 2014 with a fast race at the Mumbai Marathon missing the course record by just 1 sec.

Another remarkable female runner, Judit Földing-Nagy of Hungary , stood second at the inaugural edition of the event. She continued running into her latter years as an Ultra-marathoner and at the age of 48 in 2012 secured the 3rd place in the 100 km European Championship and 6th place at the 100 km World Championship in Seregno, Italy.

The Mumbai Marathon has participation and winners from across many countries and like any other marathon world-wide, it was no exception with East African runners dominating the running scene. Interestingly at the Women’s race in the 2011 edition,  we had the Ethiopian runners bag the first 12 positions excluding the 8th position which was bagged by a Kenyan runner.

The story of Indian runners at the Mumbai Marathon has also been quite impressive. From the first edition in 2004, the Indian male athletes have been striving hard to achieve their best results and have improved by  a whopping 11 minutes with Nitendra Singh Rawat leading the pack with a timing of 02:15:48. The women have surpassed the men by 22 minutes with O.P. Jaisha topping the list with a timing of 02:37:29.

The most decorated Indian male runner at the Mumbai Marathon is Binning Lyngkhoi who achieved the first position in the Men’s category in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and a third place in 2014. Among the women athletes, Lalita Babar has been the dominant player at the Mumbai Marathon for years and the fastest among Indian runners in 2013, 2014 and came second in 2015 and 2016. Despite her success in the marathon, she was determined to win a medal across multi-disciplinary events at the Asian Games, Commonwealth and Olympics and switched quite successfully to 3000 meters steeplechase by winning a silver medal at the 2014 Asian Games and a Gold medal at the Asian Championships by setting a record at the Asian and Commonwealth games. She became the first Indian woman to qualify for the steeplechase final at the 2015 World Championship and also became the first Indian in 32 years to enter a final in any track event at the Rio Olympics.

Besides her, other women athletes like Sudha Singh, O.P. Jaisha, Kavita Raut have dominated this event and have also put India on the global map at various international events.

The trio of Nitendra Singh Rawat, Gopi T and Kheta Ram who qualified for the Rio Olympics at the 2016 edition of the Mumbai Marathon, have been interchanging the podium spots between them for the last 3 years. At the Rio Olympics, they have managed to achieve quite respectable positions- 24th and 25th respectively.

It’s unfortunate, that I could cover only some of the champion runners of Mumbai Marathons but I’ll save the rest for another time.

With such a great event in place, I have no doubt that the organizers will have no problem attracting great talent from across the globe.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

A reputed coach and mentor for the Jayanagar Jaguars and a technology innovation head with a leading MNC who over the past 4 years has trained more than 2500 athletes complete Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons and Ultra-Marathons

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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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Don’t stop till you touch the sky

Sergey Bubka, athlete supreme, the man who was never limited by the heights that he literally achieved, is in India, as the brand ambassador for the Tata Mumbai Marathon on January 21, 2018. A profile of the prolific man by Capt Seshadri.

Picture in your mind, for just a moment, a man jumping from the ground to the roof of a two storeyed building. Now, this is no Superman or comic book hero performing a stunt, but a living, breathing individual who vaulted his way to fame, clearing 6.15 metres or, 20 feet 14 inches. A world champion pole vaulter for 21 years, the first man to breach the 6.0 metre barrier, while breaking the men’s record 35 times and bettering his own, untouched record 14 times, thus making his name synonymous with the pole vault.

Sergey Nazarovich Bubka, born on December 4, 1963, in Ukraine, part of the erstwhile Soviet Union, began his career in athletics with the 100 metres sprint and the long jump. He started competing on the international athletics scene in 1981 as a pole vaulter at the European Junior Championship, where he finished a moderate seventh. His leap to fame however, took an upward turn in 1983, with his world championship gold at Helsinki, clearing 5.70 metres (18 feet 8 inches). During the next couple of decades, he became simply unbeatable.

If the cliché ‘raising the bar’ were to be epitomised, he would be the lone author. His maiden world record of 5.85 metres, was set on May 26, 1984, a date coinciding with the conquest of Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hilary, precisely 31 years earlier. After them, on earth, there were no more frontiers to conquer; for Bubka though, his achievement was but a small beginning. Just over a year later, on July 13, 1985, he cleared 6.00 metres (19 feet 8 inches), a feat that had been considered impossible by any human. Not one to rest on his pole, he went on, over the next ten years, to consistently break his records time and again, pushing himself on his own, despite the fact that there were no opponents to challenge him.

In the days before Perestroika, Soviet athletes who set world records were rewarded with bonus payments, every time they set a new record. Bubka made a name for collecting these bonuses at every meet, by beating his own record, many a time by as slim a margin as one centimetre! This constant improvement made him a star attraction and an object of much speculation at athletic meets.

The gap was too wide, too high, for the rest of the world. Until January 2014, no other pole vaulter on earth had jumped beyond 6.07 metres; Bubka, however, had cleared 6.10 metres as early as in 1991, in San Sebastian, Spain, such was his dominance over the event. On July 31, 1994, at age 31, when most athletes would have faded out, or when the world would have consigned them to retirement, Sergey Bubka reached his best ever leap of 6.14 metres (20 feet 1 ¾ inches), which still stands as the highest ever outdoor pole vault. He was not to be outdone indoors either. On February 21, 1993, at Donetsk, Ukraine, close to the town of his birth, he set the indoor world record of 6.15 metres, which stood firm for a couple of decades, till Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie cleared 6.16 metres. Ironically, this was at the same meet, at the same venue, in the same month, but 21 years later.

For an athlete of his calibre and achievements, the Olympics were a severe disappointment, his only gold coming in Seoul 1988, where he cleared 5.90 metres, far below his usual standard. It was probably a matter of pride for this great star that he retired from the pole vault in 2001, during a ceremony at his Pole Vault Stars meet in Donetsk, the very place where he established his world record.

Bubka’s secret to success could probably be attributed to a few key factors. For one, he possessed enormous strength and speed, combined with the agility of a gymnast. He would also grasp the pole at the extreme height to gain extra leverage. His style is referred to as the Petrov / Bubka technique, in which the vaulter concentrates on putting maximum energy into the bar on the upward move. This, combined with high running speed, allows the vaulter to benefit most from the recoil of the pole, thereby increasing energy into the swing.

This sporting genius was twice named Athlete of the Year by Track & Field News and is one of 24 athletes inducted as inaugural members of the IAAF Hall of Fame. Now well into his retirement, Sergey Bubka is the Senior Vice President of the IAAF and President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine. He is also an Honorary Member of the International Olympic Committee.

A little point of interest: Like many siblings who do not take after their parents, Sergei Jr is a professional tennis player.

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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Importance of pre-race meal

Raghul Trekker gives you nutritional advice before the most celebrated marathon in India, the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

If you are a marathoner and if you live in India, you wouldn’t want to miss the Tata Mumbai Marathon. It is the most celebrated marathon considering the huge local support from the Government, Police, general public, etc. Also, you get to see some lightening elite runners (probably overtaking you at some point of your run). Many runners peak their training towards this race and target their personal best at this grand stage. The environment makes it possible too.

If it is your target race, you definitely need a proper strategy on your pre-race meal for which, we have to look into some calorie calculation. In general, the calorie expended by a person while running can be approximately measured using body weight and distance run. For sample calculation, I am considering a 65 kg runner

Body weight * distance run ≈ energy expended in calorie

65 kg * 42 km ≈ 2730 calorie

Almost everyone concentrates on their race week carb loading but surprisingly forgets their pre-race meal. It is more important than your race week nutrition. This amount of calorie, on an empty stomach, would all be supplied from the energy reserve which is usually somewhere near 2000 calorie which will be expended when you run a little over 30 km. Does it ring any bell? Yes, I am talking about the wall of a marathon. This is why people bonk between 30 & 35 km mark.

A pre-race meal of 500 calorie is a good way to start a race day with this being 90 min before the race start if it is solid food or 15-30 min before race start if it is liquid food.

Now that we have understood some numbers related to how much is expended and how much is to be consumed, it is time to understand the breakage of consumption in terms of fat and carbs. For a marathon, we can expect finish times of 120 min to 360 min range. With this we can recommend the following (the below calculations are based on heart rate zones)

  1. Fast runners 120-150 min: a high carb pre-race meal with a shot of caffeine. The carbs being a mixture of high GI and low GI.
  2. Intermediate runners 150-200 min: a high carb pre-race meal & little bit of fat. The carbs being low GI.
  • Slow runners 200 min or above: a carb & fat mixed pre-race meal. The carbs being low GI.

Fast runners 120-150 min

Cereals with almond milk, grapes, banana, white bread with jam and other high GI foods. The high GI carbs will provide fast release of energy. A shot of caffeine from coffee, caffeinated salt capsules, caffeinated energy drinks, etc.

Intermediate runners 150-200 min

Fruits like apple, pears, oranges, yoghurt, grainy bread and other low GI foods in combination with cereals, grapes, banana and other high GI foods. The low GI carbs will provide slow release of energy for a prolonged period.

Slow runners 200 min & above

Grainy bread with peanut butter, cheese, avocado, nuts like almonds, pistachio, cashew, groundnuts with almond milk, millets and other fat & carb mixed meal. The fat will supply energy for the slow runners because they will use more of fat while running at low HR zones than the faster runners. So, this fact cannot be overlooked.

Consider the above points and put yourself into one of the categories to suit an apt pre-race meal for your upcoming marathon. Since the race starts at 0540 hrs, I would consume a semi solid pre-race meal at around 0445 hrs after a long 8 hour sleep.

With a little bit of smartness, you can do a lot better

All the best for your PB.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raghul Trekker is the Head Coach at Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn (a unit of Dhaamz Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd). A 4-time Ironman coaching more than 100 athletes for the last 3 years. Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn is a team of more than 60 triathletes and runners constantly pushing the limits to better their personal best. You can check out more about them at tricrashnburn.com

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