TATA Mumbai Marathon 2024: Here Is What Keeps Bringing The Runners Back

TATA Mumbai Marathon 2024: Here Is What Keeps Bringing The Runners Back

The support from residents of the city and the lure of the iconic routes keeps bringing the runners back year after year.

Premangshu RayUpdated: Sunday, January 21, 2024, 12:23 AM IST
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Tata Mumbai Marathon 2024 | X/@TataMumMarathon

Mumbai is set to come alive again with the Tata Mumbai Marathon, with the memories of the race drawing runners back year after year.

"Experience goes beyond a mere road race"

The experience goes beyond a mere road race, says Sumita Balooni of Mumbai who has taken part in several domestic races. “Running on iconic routes like the Sea Link, Peddar Road, and the famous Marine Drive is an unforgettable journey, heightened by the support from hundreds of Mumbaikars lining the course,” she says.

Parag Ved, the CEO of Liberty General Insurance Company who has taken part in Chicago and New Delhi marathons, says that it is a measure of endurance and likens it to “each day in a Mumbaikar’s life which is akin to a race, navigating discomforts and persevering”.

People become more fitness conscious

The Mumbai Marathon and other such races have definitely led to people becoming more fitness conscious, notes Ashok Nath, a running evangelist who has taken part in races across the world including the World Marathon Major events.

“In recent times, there has been a noticeable surge in people’s awareness about fitness,” says Vandana Arora from Bangalore, who holds the title of being the fastest Indian female in both the Boston and Chicago marathons of 2023.

The increased interest has led to greater participation and better performances, which is evident in finish times improving over the years. “We see a growing number of runners breach the sub 3 hour mark at the Tata Mumbai Marathon. This bears testimony to the fact that Indian athletes are catching up with their international counterparts,” says Kartik, who has run the Berlin and Chicago marathons over the last two years.

"We are yet to see an Indian in the top 10 in major marathons"

However, Prithu Sharma of Bangalore has a different view. “Except for Avinash Sable and a few others we hardly see any Indian at the global stage. We are yet to see an Indian in the top 10 in major marathons,” says Sharma who has taken part in several domestic races.

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Pijush Kumar Das says “Some headway has been made but there is a long way to go. We need better coaches and more support from the government and corporate houses.” Arora points out that the Tata Mumbai Marathon has “attracted a diverse range of participants from various backgrounds” and that this has led to an influx of international athletes.”

Nath says that the support from the Tatas and other sponsors ensures that “the spends are high, there is good visibility off and on ground,” leading to large scale participation across categories.

Though “the Mumbai Marathon has help create greater awareness about fitness in India”, awareness campaigns about “the long-term benefits of staying fit and the steps one can take in this direction” are sorely needed, says 52-year-old Modan Saha, who has taken part in several domestic races in the past few years.

There is always scope for improvement

However, there is always scope for improvement. The organisers could “consider changing the route to avoid the small roads from Mahim-Prabhadevi-Worli area” says LM Acharrya, a lawyer practising at the Bombay High Court who has been running the Mumbai Marathon since 2019.

Kapil Arora suggests spreading the run across two days to decongest the schedule. “The 10K and 6K can take place on Saturday and the others on Sunday,” he says.

"Tough weather conditions impacts a runner’s performance"

The route is also a factor for Sunmbul Rahman from Kolkata. “The course is rolling and undulating and this coupled with the tough weather conditions impacts a runner’s performance,” he says.

“In Mumbai, the weather is tricky. It is initially humid with an early start and then starts getting hot after sunrise,” says 49 year old Dev Chavan, who has taken part in the Berlin, Chicago, and Tokyo marathons.

“Despite the marathon starting at 5 am, the weather in the second half of the race is very hot and humid. Besides, the air quality in other venues is much better than in Mumbai,” says Anand Soniminde, a Mumbai resident who has completed five of the six World Major Marathons.

“The chance of the temperature rising as the day progresses could lead to increased fatigue due to faster dehydration,” says Divyanshu Singhal, who has run the Berlin, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam marathons.

Despite all this, the support from residents of the city and the lure of the iconic routes keeps bringing the runners back year after year.

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