Monthly Archives: July 2017

Global MRR Running the better half: The San Francisco 2nd half marathon

It’s a badass route!” I was told at the expo of the San Francisco half marathon.  “You will be considered as a tough runner if you get through this one.” I looked at the guy behind the information desk quizzically with raised eyebrows as he pointed to the route map of the 2nd half marathon which was supposed to commence at 7:30 am. There was the full marathon, the first half marathon which started at 5:30 am and the 2nd half which was what I had signed up for. Since I would be travelling from Palo Alto in the morning, I had asked him for logistics to reach the start line.

You can ask your Uber guy to drop you off at 1st and mission street. From there, you will find shuttles to take you to the start line which is quite far off. You will be finishing your race at the same point where your uber drops you off.” I got my queries answered and went back home with a queasy feeling, hearing about the elevation profile.

It had been 4 months since I did an event-my last one being the Pune women’s half marathon on March 11th 2017 which was a slightly hilly route. The months of May and June hadn’t had mileages to boast about although I had continued my fitness regime diligently. Mental fatigue of moving from my comfort zone was nagging me albeit it was only for a year.  I decided to work on my running after coming to Stanford which I did within 3 days after landing here. I resumed my speed workouts, hill repeats in the dish area- located straight ahead of Stanford avenue, which had some deadly inclines. I also had to juggle time between my creative writing course and taking care of the household chores myself as I did not have the luxury of domestic help like I did in India…..

The next day morning, I left home at 5:15 am as it was a 40-minute drive to San Francisco. The shuttles to the start line were functional between 6-7 am. It was a beautiful foggy drive to the start line which was located inside the golden gate park. The woods in the mist made quite a pretty sight and it was quite chill, making me glad that I had worn my leggings and inner wear to keep me warm. There were buses which were segregated according to the bib numbers and runners with those allocated bib numbers could leave their change of clothes or bag packs inside. They could later collect their belongings post the race.  Waves aka corals were allocated as per the bib numbers as well and each wave had a designated time to the leave the start line. I was allocated in wave 4 and my race was to begin at 7:45 am.

I observed a lot of runners doing their warm ups and stretches. Some were scantily clothed making me marvel at their tenacity to bear the cold while others were wearing full arm tees and leggings. I spotted a few Indians who were discussing about their last years’ experience. The race soon began…

The very first km greeted us with an incline. The course took us amidst the redwoods of the golden gate park. What a treat it was!  It reminded me of the scenes from the fantasy adventure movies I grew up watching. The sight of the mist and the greenery looked surreal. The weather was pleasant as the elevation took us higher and it felt like running inside a hill station. We passed by a vast lake and the logs of wood in the water body resembled crocodiles, making my eyes widen for a minute before I realized my eyes were playing tricks with me. The inclines were never ending and at the 8th km, I ran by the finish line of the 1st half marathon, watching the runners cruise to the finish, in style. The course saw me through the conservatory of flowers and narrow pathways which soon opened out into the city lanes. The first half of the race was over.

 

By now, the sun had come out, probably realizing that it was being rude not to greet the runners and decided to beam down in a bright manner. The temperatures suddenly soared. I decided to ignore the heat and focus on my music and the streets of San Francisco. “It was a great way to see the city,” I thought, taking in the quaint houses, the cafes and the rolling roads which felt like going on a roller coaster ride. I noticed a lot of foreigners slowing down as the heat became unbearable. Fortunately, the volunteers present at regular intervals proved to be a blessing. For a while there was no shade which prompted me to pour water on my head.

It was nice to see a wonderful crowd support. The young and old stood on the roads, giving each and every one of the runners a hi five. That smile and a cheer motivated me to keep going. It was interesting to see some witty placards with sayings like “You are a badass runner. Finish like one. The rolling course continued till the 18th km. I soon found myself running beside the azure blue Pacific Ocean, glancing at the sparkling waters in admiration. The heat was fierce by now. “Just 3 km to go”. I thought to myself.

I noticed a band playing as we took a turn, giving them a thumbs-up for their enthusiasm.  I noticed more placards on the way which said, “You cannot quit now, people are watching you.” I arrived at the Bay bridge and was running strong, determined not to let the heat get to me. Despite the fact I hadn’t run a 21 km in 2 months, I was glad that I did not hit a wall in the 19th km like I usually do at times. The beauty of San Francisco was enough to demolish the psychological walls and soon arrived at the 21 km mark as my Garmin buzzed, showing 2:07.

The finish line was nowhere in sight. I seemed to keep going and for a minute wondered if this was a 22 km race.  Finally, I saw that familiar vibrant arch studded with balloons within a few metres and sprinted. I crossed the finish line as my Garmin showed 21.59 km in 2:10. The course appeared to be almost 600 m longer as it was displayed on the Garmin watches of many of the other runners, much to their indignation.

After doing some stretches, I collected my medal, stood in line to be clicked by the photographer as I proudly posed with the Indian flag! The snack counter served some water, bananas, fruits and some chocolate wafers.

As I sat in the cab on the way home, I reminisced the run. It was a challenging course with grueling terrains and brutal heat in the second half. It was certainly not a PB route but one that will make you feel like a badass runner!!

 

Guidelines for this race:

  1. As mentioned it’s not a PB route, so don’t go with high expectations. However, if you do manage your pb, well and good.
  2. It can get extremely windy and chill in san Francisco especially in the mornings. If you are running the 2nd half marathon, kindly wear a disposable jacket which will come in handy in the first half and which can be discarded in the second half when it gets hot.

3. It’s a hilly course so ensure that you include hill repeats as a part of your training plan       if you have signed up for this race.

 

 

  1. To reach the start line of the 2nd half marathon, take a cab to 1st and mission street in San Francisco and from there the shuttles will take you to the start line.

 

  1. If you are carrying any belongings, you can leave it in the buses which are assigned as per your bib number. They can be collected at the finish line post the race.

 

  1. It’s a beautiful route and one can be assured of enjoying the golden gate park and seeing San Francisco city!!

 

Global MRR – Running in Dubai

If you ask any runner which part of the world would you like to run, if he is a passionate runner he would mention any part of the world as one will get an experience in a different region with a different climate and a different surface. Some love to run on Sandy surfaces, some on Roads, some on Trails. With an opportunity write on MRR Global theme I am more than happy to write on the running culture in UAE. UAE in a way I would say is a boon for runners. Because in a shorter area it can provide all kinds of running experience that you want get involved into, it has sandy surfaces, roads, trails, etc. All these you will get in a very short vicinity you don’t need to travel too much to get a different kind of surface to run on.
I started my running around 4 years from now in Dubai. My first run was a predictors run held by Dubai Road Runners which used to be at Safa Park in which you had two options either run 3.5k or a double loop of 7 km. I thought 3.5 km would look short so went for a double loop and then after completing the first loop the whole second loop I was wishing and at the same time cursing myself for not taking the 3.5 k run but yes I did complete somehow with stitches in stomach, walk, run, craving for water and reached the 7 k mark.
There are multiple running clubs around here to name a few known ones like “Desert Road Runners”, “Dubai Creek Striders”, “ABRaS Runing Club”, “Dubai Trail Runners”,“Abu Dhabi Striders” then come the sporting brand clubs like “Skechers”, “Nike” etc. The best part about all clubs is that you are not forced to be a member of a single club ie a person can be a member of multiple clubs during the same calendar year and no one objects to it.
Each club has its own way of training and specialty, these opinions is only from my point of view. I have run with every club. There is paid membership in few clubs and few are still free to join. But the fees charged is very negligible because along with the membership lot of freebies are given which makes the fees paid equivalent to zero.

Dubai Creek Striders Running Club
Track & Field Team for Desert Road Runners

I would say that other than the branded clubs all the other clubs are being run by at least one passionate person who is too passionate about “running” and a lot of sacrifices of hard effort, time and money is being put in to run these clubs at par. Each club has its own specialty of training and each one has a well designed schedules for their preparation for the upcoming races be it a marathon or a 10 k etc. The training schedules are designed in such a way that it suits all level of runners from a Novice to the Elites all follow the same schedule at a time.Friday and Saturday being weekends the clubs meet up in the morning and mostly long runs are arranged on these two days. For a long runs as well as the weekly short and long distances there are groups formed into different pace groups so that each and every runner is accommodated and accordingly they set off for a run. In case of Desert road runners everyone gathers for at coffee shop to sip some coffee after completing their long runs.

Skechers Club with Our Spoils after an Event

Major Spots For running
There are multiple different beautiful spots for running in Dubai as I mentioned earlier and the count is innumerable. Some of the prominent ones I would like to mention and share my experience:
Al Barsha Pond Park – It’s a small family park with a pond in between and a 1.4 Km track soft Track around it. This is a favourite training spot for both Desert Road Runners and Dubai Creek Striders for Short Interval and Long interval Trainings
Jumeirah Beach Running Track – A properly marked soft rubber track laid right beside the beach extends upto around 7 km, going to and fro makes 14 k for the day. I mostly love to run on this track and some days I just go on the sandy part besides the water making it a straight patch of sand for 7 to 8 km and coming back to make 15 to 16 km or doubles to make it 30k.

Jumeirah Beach Track
Jumeirah Beach Track

District One Cycling and Running Track – It’s a 8 km Rubber jogging track laid right beside the cycling track. So incase you have some cycling enthusiast in your family you can take them along and while they enjoy their cycling one can complete their training runs and to add over it there is a small tunnel to pass through in between the run.

District One Cycling And Running Track

Other than these there are lot of running paths many with different views around it like Dubai Marina Walk – it’s a bit busy walk way but you can run around the whole path as long as you want around the Marina waters on one side and hustling bustling shops and restaurants on other side, there is so much happening around that in case you are having an easy run you wont even realize when the 10 k has passed on your watch. Springs & Meadows – a Gated community with beautiful greenery and ponds around – best place to run on the weekend mornings and go for long runs straight or in loops. Zabeel Area – Place where the Dubai Creek striders have their long runs – flooded with peacocks in the morning. Now with new development of the Creek we might see more than a 70 k running path all along the creek.

New Creek Route

If one is a fan of Trail runs UAE has plenty of options. I normally go with Dubai Trail Runners for trail running. The best spot for Trail runs is in Hajar Mountains and different wadi’s of Ras Al Khaima. Wadi Shawka – a Trail runners delight, you will be greeted sometimes by the camels, sometimes by goats or sometimes even by donkeys enroute your 21 or 35 km patch of trails. Lots of village life to see with small farms and different style of path to run on from rocky to sandy patches. And incase you come across a pond at the end of your turn then you can do some water diving practice too, it just removes all the exhaustive feeling of your body and you are fresh to return back. Fossil Rock – Challenge yourself with Sand Dunes over the mountains, it’s a tough run mostly done on Saturday mornings by Dubai Trail runners, running through the sand mountains (what I can call it) sometimes digging through knee deep sand and specially the last point where you run to the top of the mountain with bulk of sand in your shoes tests the best endurance you have in your body.

Fossil Rocks
Fossil Rocks

If one fancies running up the mountain then there is Jebel Hafeeth in Al Ain. A group of Abudhabi Striders leaves around 2.30 am inorder to be able to reach the base of the mountain to start running at around 4 am so as to avoid the vehicle traffic. But running this mountain on a well built road upto the top is a unique experience. We also have Hatta Area in Dubai which is again a weekend place to go for a run on mountains as its on the border of Dubai and Oman and requires a travelling time of around 2 hours. Again a picturesque place to be in with good mountains to test the strength of your knees. There are few short hills in Residential area in Jebel Ali near Ibne Batuta Mall where one can practice few short hill reps. Else other easier options for hill reps for some is the multi-story mall parkings or the bridges.
The trainings go almost all through the year. Most of us expats living here get 1 month off in a year, many people tend to take that during the Summer time when the kids also get their off from school. So during summer the number of runners in the group become low. But the running continues all through the year. The summers are very hot sometimes temperature reaching upto 48 to 49 digree Celcius with 70 to 80% humidity. But it’s a different experience to run in such heat also. During summer we also get an option to run Indoors with an Air conditioned Indoor Running Track – A 650 meter running track laid in one of the Exhibition centres for around three or four months. This is a special initiative taken by the Government authorities to promote sports during summer giving multiple options of football ground, cricket play area, basket ball courts, gyms etc at some charges but the running track which is laid around these grounds is free of cost. Sometimes we do train indoors on this track taking the loop of 650 km. You will find most of the runners making full use of this indoor track during the summers.

Dubai Sports World Indoor AC Track

During winters one would feel there is no other better place to run than UAE. A perfect temperature to run in neither to hot nor too cold. Rains we don’t get here much but some days when the rains show up its beautiful day to run too because the winds just make you flow with them.
Running events – multiple running events are conducted all through the year. Every event has some speciality in itself. One will never be unhappy to spend the charges charged for the event entry because with most of the events especially the ones organized by the running clubs carry some or the other non monetary benefits for the runners, eg Abudhabi Striders Yas Half Marathon offers a full day water park access within the registration fees, while Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon goodie bag is full of surprises year on year and they try to keep the registration fee as low as they can afford to and at the same time the quality is not compromised at all, the venues, routes, arrangements etc is of best quality.

Abu Dhabi Yas Water Park Half Marathon & 10 k
Abudhabi Yas Half Marathon

Dubai Marathon route is one of the fastest routes available for any runner to get his PB added with best temperature as a natural support. Also Dubai has the one of the fastest Half Marathon Route which you will get in the RAK Half Marathon. Along with the price money of 1million AED another 1 million is for grabs for the one who can beat the World Record, so you can understand the quality of competition that can be expected in these events.

Dubai Marathon Moments

Plenty of events to choose from ranging from flat routes to trail routes. Also almost all events are competitive as there is a multi-nationality presence in each event. There are more than 190 nationality people living within UAE so you will find people from different Nationalities in each event so it makes it more competitive at the same time it helps people learn from different training programmes people follow across the world as you meet them in different events and discuss on training porgrames etc. You even get a chance to compete head to head with some of the best known names in running in some events as they might be visiting Dubai and have entered into the event happening during that time. Even in summers one will find events happening mostly night runs, or evening events while the temperatures are still soaring at 40 to 45 digree celcius. Solomon Wadi Bih 72 & 50 km – A Trail run in the Wadi Bih Oman being organized from last 25 years, which attracts almost all runners to participate It’s an individual as well as a Team Event. . There are prices for best team name and best dressed teams also. Due to the increase in nos of participants year after year it is now held in two days. First day all individuals and second day all teams compete running upto an high altitude and coming back the same route. Urban Ultra Hajar 100 and 50 km – The organizers try and make their best efforts to make the hardest route possible. Cut off times at approximately 20k, 40, 50 and 70 or 75 k are just the beginning and to add on to it you need to cross two trechorous mountains in order to complete the first 50k.

Start Of An Urban Ultra Event
One of The Best Dressed Team at Wadi Bih Event
Wadi Bih Oman Route Up Up and Away

My best experience in running during this short time of 4 years has been the 7 Emirates Run. It covers all the 7 Emirates of UAE (Abudhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah). Initially it was 537 km in 11 Days, now been reduced to 497 km in 7 days. I have run this event for two consecutive years and finished it at the the top. The race itself is like a dream fulfilling for a Runner as you need to run 70 to 90 km for the day and rest and then run the next day again and additionaly it supports a great cause to support a charity that makes limbs for Children who cannot afford it. Other than this one gets to explore the whole of UAE on foot, meet different people, be able to see heritage places, experience the kind hospitability of the Locals around, going through villages, farms which one misses out while travelling through the cars and other transporation mediums.

7 Emirates Run Greet And Meet The Camel Enroute
7ER Sometimes Sandstorms Greeting You and No one else around
The Kid in the Centre Who was supported by the Charity of First 7 Emirates Run Comes to Meet Us.
The Farms Enroute
7 ER Support Vehicles and a Glimpse on the Route

Though I have run with almost all clubs in UAE my trainings mostly happen with Desert Road runners. Weekly event that happens with DRR is Predictors run which happens on Saturday evening (venue is now changed to Jumeirah Beach track) whereby you need to predict your time for 5k or 2.5 km and try to reach that predicted time. You compete with yourself every week. If you hit your predicted time you are awarded with some prices on spot. DRR also conducts an “Iftaar run” normally happening in Ramdaan after breaking the fast. Other couple of events conducted by DRR are of 5 k and 10 k are held at the Dubai Autodrome. Similar type of events is followed by Abu Dhabi Striders. They too have predictors runs in Abu Dhabi. One more interesting running event that I would like to mention here is of Dubai Creek Striders “10 k Peacock Run” – 3 to 5 Runners are grouped together to run as a team. Each group is mixed with Slowest and Fastest runners and all runners need to arrive at the finish line together. The winners receive a trophy while the last group receives Wooden Spoons.

 

Exploring the Stanford trail

The best part about running inside Stanford campus was the aspect of stumbling across unexpected trails and beautiful routes. I landed here couple of weeks ago and was told  that this city was a haven for outdoor activities.
Being a runner, the first thing I noticed about the place was the number of runners  of varied age groups, who would be running throughout the day,  even at 2 pm in the afternoon when the sun would be blazing – something that was unthinkable in India. It was hot alright considering it was peak summer sans the infamous humidity that I face back in my home country.
The Campus drive loop  I went out for my first run inside campus. Serra street as it is called leads straight to some fountains, a beautiful garden to the right and a tall tower clock to the left. It was a 2 km loop and I ended up going up and down 5 times covering about 10 k.  A little deviation from one of the side lanes here led to some short trails with trees and shrubs. Further down was a road with palm trees on either side and trails in plenty.
Stumbling upon an unexpected trail: The next day I decided to explore a new route. I took a right from Serra straight and went on to the main road from where I took a right from Starbucks cafe. This was the adjacent street and called Stanford avenue.
The city had separate lanes for cyclists and runners. One could cycle or run without any stress about getting hit by a speeding  vehicle. The best part was the fact that cars would voluntarily stop on seeing runners and cyclists.  It sort of felt like a red carpet welcome as we would cruise past them, of course, not without pausing to give that nod or a slight wave of acknowledgment.
Stanford avenue was adorned with dainty cottages with pretty little gardens on the porches. Quaint and tidy, the vision was a treat to the eyes as I went straight ahead. All on a sudden, I noticed a small pathway on the side of the main road. To my delight, I discovered that it was a trail.
Dried leaves were strewn about on both sides with tall trees that provided the shade from the harsh summer sun. The pathway coiled like a snake as it turned into a small bridge from where there was a slight incline. I ran ahead basking in the beauty of the place. I enjoyed the stillness of the woods which reminded me of  the woods that I had read about in Grimm Brothers fairy tales. A sudden sound of the leaves rustling prompted me to turn around  wondering what caused the noise. After a short game of hide and seek I finally realized it was a bushy tailed brown squirrel trying to make its presence felt and catch the attention of the runners.
Amused at the little encounter, I went  ahead. The trail was barely a km and it soon turned upwards leading to the main road. Just a few meters away, I found a zebra crossing which led to yet another beautiful trail- popularly known as the dish area.
A dish without the spoon The dish was a grueling hilly terrain. Blades of dried grass adorned both sides as the roads tilted up to a deadly incline. It was a vast area with multiple entries and haunted by hikers, walkers and runners. Considering the deadly inclines with practically no shade, running here in the afternoons would be considered as self inflicting torture but that’s probably what makes runners a strong lot.
Being vast and wide spread, the dish area had a few entry gates and was located right behind Stanford campus.   Ascending the slopes was worth it as I got a magnificent view of the city and the ocean in the horizon.
When I finished my run, I was tired but a satisfied soul. The runner in me always looks to enjoy my experience in a new place and explore new routes. This is just the beginning,I thought as I looked forward to some upcoming events  which promised to showcase some visual treats and breathtaking trails for the next one year.

‘Insta’ celeb on the run

There is a certain thrill that one feels on seeing their photo on social media. The numerous likes and cheeky comments tend to bring out a child like glee irrespective of the age factor-something that entices them away from the rigamarole of daily routine and chores.
That instant ‘ping’ of a like or a comment on the smartphones manages to elicit a smile which probably only a bar of chocolate  could do during our childhood days.
After Facebook,  instagram seems to have become the new rage. One is able to post several pictures right from their travel escapades to random clicks with friends or celebrities. With the fitness bug having caught on, one sees yoga poses, hiking trails, bicycling trips and running shots doing the rounds.
MRR ( Mumbai road runners)-a vibrant community of 9000 odd members, believes that every runner on the road is a celebrity and has devised a novel way to ensure that their runner gets the status of one by flaunting their images on social media.
They introduced a concept of insta girl and insta boy of the day where clues would be posted on a daily basis about their runners. This ‘taaza khabar’ would leave others in the community brimming with curiosity on who these celebs  of the day were. The ‘guess who?‘ phenomenon would begin with their morning cup of cutting chai as a flurry of names would leave a trail of comments on this post.
By tea time, the stars would be revealed and this was something everyone looked forward to. It sort of broke the lull from their monotonous affairs of the cubicle life or corporate boardroom.  Each day was awaited with great fervour as the “who is it going to be today” frenzy gradually caught on.
The star couple of the day would be elated on seeing their images being posted on a page of a 9000 odd member community which boasts of runners from not only India but all over the world.
Other runners got to know their counterparts much better with the creative clues that were posted by the enthusiastic admin team.  Irrespective of being caught in traffic snarls or long haul meetings ,the ‘insta’ fever perked the excitement levels by keeping everyone on their toes.
This was probably  good enough to give stiff competition to ‘Bombay times’ which would usually only  report on celebs getting a nose/ lip job done or an attire they wore to a certain superstar’s party.
The MRR insta fun certainly made waves with its tongue in cheek humor clues as an introduction to their runners in their previous season.
Going by the popularity of their previous insta edition ,MRR is all set to bring on their season 2 of the insta girl -insta boy series. More clues, more humor and more celebs -the time has come to get to know your runner pals a lot better.
Quirky and effervescent, season 2 promises be a cup of hot piping coffee with an extra aroma and a dash of some special flavor!

7th Anniversary Run

We have many running groups across the country but what is so unique about MRR?

– is it that MRR has around 9000 members?

– or is it that this group is ” by the runners and for the runners?”

Very few running groups can boast of having a monthly group run, every 1st Sunday of the month, continuously for the past 7 years!! Whether it’s peak summer months or the wet monsoons of Mumbai, come what may, these monthly runs will always happen.

Last Sunday 2nd July was MRR’s 7th anniversary and the entire running community of Mumbai was looking forward to it. We had +400 runners who braved the heavy downpour and still made it for the event. The entire route from Carter road to NCPA was as if a race was happening in the city.

Like for all monthly runs, there were enough water stations on the route and enthusiastic volunteers cheering the runners.

As a memento, every runner earned a medal which they proudly displayed and many even posted on the social media. Also breakfast was served to everyone, which everyone relished. And in this weather hot tea was also served.

Now all these costs money but the admins decided to charge only Rs 100 per person!! I am sure the costs were much higher than that. The best part about these runs are the camaraderie amongst the runners seen after the run. Every one wants to be clicked and take selfies with their friends and people who they feel inspire them.

I have personally seen this group grow by leaps in the last 5 yrs. Whether it is the admins or the volunteers or the photographers, everyone puts in their 100% and work selflessly sacrificing their own interests.

What more do I expect from MRR?

Possibly getting into organising a race

 

The MRR 7th Anniversary Run 2017

It was somewhere in the year 2009 when I met  the gang that started as MMR and later rechristened as MRR.  It  began with long runs on Saturdays at the lush green lungs of  Mumbai  suburbs that we know as Aarey. It was quite a challenging route  with one loop of around 8kms with a fair share of uphills that we had nicknamed “Heart Break Hill”. There was no FB group and  we had a platform known as Runners For Life  which had groups like the one we have on FB today.

Later in the year 2010, the Bandra NCPA long run was conceived  by Giles, Milton, Ram  amongst others and  myself including Bijay, Mani Iyer, Bhasker Desai, Mumtaz Qureshi and few others  became part of the same.  This was basically to have  training runs  mostly on the SCMM route   so that  runners  are familiar  with the  route and its difficulties.  The response was good considering the number of people running at that point of time and slowly the popularity of this monthly run grew and people from  different parts of  Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane joined  the fun.  The MRR community itself grew from a mere 20  odd people  to  over 8500  now and it is a matter of pride  and joy that today we have  members from across India connecting with us and also coming to participate in the iconic run whenever any of them are in Mumbai. Some die hards  schedule their visits so as to participate in these runs, and  we have had members  coming in specially to participate in the Anniversary celebrations.

The anniversary runs are a lot of fun, as runners come in huge numbers and runners across various groups  participate in the run as well as celebrations. It also gives an opportunity  for the runners who are connected on FB to actually meet and put a face to the name that they know and interact with.  The charges for participating in the monthly runs have remained constant at Rs. 50/- (inflation and GST can take a walk!) and on an average  any monthly run has upwards of 200  participants, equivalent to a small event. The Anniversary runs  have larger numbers and hence a  bit more effort goes into organizing the same. The 7 Anniversary  run on 2 July 2017 had over 400 participants, by any standards a  decent number even for a time event.

I have participated in most of the  monthly runs and  all of the Anniversary runs.  This year  since had scheduled  a 16 k  run for myself, I had decided to start from NCPA and do a 8k loop. I had to ferry  another MRR  member, Vishaka who also stays in Powai and who was attending the run  for the first time.  As we were  proceeding towards NCPA, the rains were  heavy and  we were a bit worried as to what the  scene would be if the  rains did not abate.  A moment after we landed at NCPA, the heavens opened up in full glory.  Since Vishaka was to do a 10k, I asked her to wait for MRR volunteers to arrive, and I pushed off  for  my scheduled 16k run.  The first 4 kms was run in blistering downpour and head winds, but  later on the  rains abated a bit and though the shoes swished with residual water, it was a comfortable run.  I completed my run in good time  again battling strong winds and rains on the return leg.  A  bit later runners started to converge on the promenade opposite NCPA.

The sight was that of a festival. Runners of all kinds  with colourful attire, swarmed the promenade like proverbial bees.  The chatter was endless.  There would have been a world record of the maximum amount of selfies taken, hugs exchanged, hi fi’s given and the  happiness quotient. The glow on the face of the runners told the story and it is this glow which makes us  arrange these  runs  month after month. It is such a satisfying experience  to see the sense of achievement on the face of the runners. Many  ran the distance for the first time, many ran in the rains for the first time, and  some volunteered for the first time. One thing was common among all of them – the joy!

The  hydration points were well stocked  with water, energy drinks and some eats, and also  volunteers  with unlimited smiles, and last but not the least, photographers to capture the run and the smiles so that  the FB pages are  flooded the next day with new profile pics and group pics!  The  finish point had participation medals  for all and yummy breakfast for that customary ‘carbo loading’.  Runners do enjoy running, but the most thing that the runners enjoy is the camaraderie and fun times that  they spend with like minded people.  This explains  why even after the run, the runners are still at the venue a good one and a half hours after completing their runs.  The customary  Anniversary cake prepared thoughtfully by Ritu, was cut by  our iconic  runner Khushroo,  and  Sameer Gaikwad, who had travelled all the way from Baroda to participate in this event.

From a motley group of 20 runners this run today had over 400  runners, which  is an indication of the running culture  that has  grown and MRR has had a good share in making the same popular with its own brand of  openness, and all inclusive  philosophy.  A word here  for the  tireless efforts put in by the  Admins of MRR, all of them who are professionals, and who put in  that extra mile to make the runners comfortable, be it the monthly runs, or managing the  FB group,  and more importantly  conceiving and implementing the various programs to help  underprivileged runners.  A huge thanks to the  Volunteers  who  work hard to  provide an enjoyable run to the  runners, sacrificing their runs and tirelessly manning everything from purchase of  materials to serving  till the last runner  has crossed the station, and doing this with smiles and all the time encouraging the runners.

Its  been a wonderful  8 years journey, and it is heartening to note that most of the initial group members are still a part of this wonderful initiative and  the group has grown in manifold terms.  Here’s wishing MRR  a fantastic future and many many more celebrations!

Some pictures of the First Anniversary  Run – 3 July 2011.