For a city that is known to be rude, lazy, insensitive, full of workaholics and most leading a very unhealthy lifestyle it was a pleasure to see thousands assembling at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus right on time for a 42 km marathon!
I, myself a hardcore Mumbaikar, never fail to come up with an excuse for arriving late at meetings/dates/office, etc surprisingly made it on time for the start of the race. Although, let me admit, I was there for the poor man's marathon, also known as 'The Dream run'. It was a mere 6km run which was to begin at 9:00 am. I tried to hide my embarrassment by not letting most of my friends/acquaintances know that I was going for it by shying away from putting up pictures or posts about it on Facebook. Because, let's face it, how tough is it to run/walk 6 kms on empty and clean Mumbai roads, especially in comparison with those running the 42 and 21 kms!
My dream run or rather the dream walk as I would like to call it, was sponsored by my company. It garnered good response with about 50-60 mostly 30+ people making it on the day. With NGO banners in one hand and shouts of 'Mumbai Mumbai' we all looked like a bunch of protesters out to fight some MNC trying to overtake our city.
That embarrassment apart, what I saw were some very interesting scenes. As our battalion started moving ahead from the start line, we saw other athletes on the other side of the road about to complete their marathons. There were hoardes of Mumbaikars who had come to support those who were running and merely cheer the others. I saw some really old people running, a man in his 80s suffering from Parkinsons disease running for a charity that supported such patients. A lady running with a chair in her hand was the reason for a lot of amusement until people found out that she was carrying the chair for an old man running right behind her being. Helped by his assistant and a friend, this man could've easily stayed at home and relaxed with his grand kids but he decided against it.
There were some who had already started discussing where to eat after the run gets over, some women were overheard planning a 'dessert marathon' since they had burnt a hell lot of calories! A few giggles here, a few laughters there, some being sarcastic about people coming in for a 6 km run and calling themselves marathoners and some admiring the spirit of the audience who came in to watch and cheer.
Amidst this, there were a bunch of school kids standing at a turn with their guitars and mouth organs and lovely voices, waiting to greet the runners. An orphanage had set-up a small deck with 8-9 year-old singing old hindi film songs. It was a good fun walk and although it seemed like the SCMM guys had marketed the marathon well enough to get TV show guys to perform gigs and stuff, it was also a time to see the average Mumbaikar come out on a Sunday morning, walk and run with their friends and family, albeit in the name of 'Spirit of Mumbai' or to post on their Facebook walls 'I finished the Mumbai Marathon' etc, etc
Faith in the 'fun' Mumbaikar was restored and even though it lasted a couple of hours, it gave a lot of us that sense of accomplishment, that smile on our face, that reason to celebrate, that we had done something good today! This city sometimes needs such moments to come out and live life normally. Thanks, SCMM 2013!