The first thought that crosses our mind when we think about the Bandra - Worli Sea Link is speed. And why wouldn’t one want to zoom past at 100 km per hour speed on the 7 km stretch? And for sure you would call a person crazy who contemplates to cross the stretch at the pace of 9 km per hour. Perhaps not, if it's 6 am and you are running on the sea link under the rising sun.
This chance is awarded only once every year to the dare devils who choose to wake up at 4 am and run till their body sweats from every inch. It's after all - the Mumbai Marathon.
After running the Half Marathon in the 13th edition of Mumbai Marathon, I managed to strike off an item on my bucket list. It was a surreal experience of a kind which truly showcased the life force of Aamchi Mumbai. You would probably perceive that I am referring to the runners and celebrities, but to the contrast I am talking about the spectators who were the true stalwarts. The 40,000 odd runners couldn't match the charm of the people who stood as the beam of motivation and strength for all the participants. One would find people gathered around the marathon track right from start till the end. And for a fact, they weren’t just people who had come to support their kins or just crawled out of their beds at their homes adjoining the marathon route, people had driven down from different parts of the city to just witness this spectacular event. The spectators held encouraging banners and shouted cheers to lift the spirits of the sprinters. And it didn’t stop there, they distributed edibles such as energy drinks, fruits and biscuits to the participants. The beauty of humanity, kindness and warmth that they brought was one thing that made this experience worthwhile. The truth is that these spectators kept my adrenaline gushing till the end. I never really knew what it was like to keep running when your body refuses. Each time I stopped to catch a breath, it was just a few simple words from the crowd like “You are half way through, it’s time for home run!” that kept me going. It was simple actions which made the difference; ja quick smile, a small eye exchange from the spectators filled with hope and encouragement. They would read my name on my bib and call it out loud making me feel like a sport star. When finally, the finish line was in sight, the chilly vibrations throughout your body of having accomplished running 21.097 kms is just overwhelming. It’s truly a case of mind over matter.
Amongst all this sun and shine, few things really brought shame to our city. There were participants who didn’t think twice before littering and peeing in open spaces. This made me realize that it’s not the illiterate or underprivileged who are responsible for the unclean environment we live in, but the so called sophisticated people like us have an equal role to play.
I would rather say that my words can’t do justice to the experience I wanted to share. I guess one has to experience it themselves to truly understand it’s magnificence. So once in a while, instead of being stuck in a traffic jam, why not try finding your way running through the crowd to your destination.