They say life comes around a full circle. This was experienced at the IDBI Federal Life insurance Mumbai half marathon stadium run last year in June. It was a first of its kind in the city of Mumbai where participants had to run around the 400 m track continuously-either for 2 hours if they were a part of the 6 member relay team or for 12 hours in the case of an individual participant.

When I received a call in the month of March asking if I was keen to be a part of the MRR team, I gladly agreed. I recollect those training days in the scorching month of May when I would train at the PDP (Priyadarshini park) track to get the feel of what it was to run around in circles for 2 hours in.

It was a six member team with 4 men and 2 women headed by Captain Viv. When the D day arrived, I remember reaching the venue at the Mumbai university grounds at Marine lines with butterflies in my stomach. My slot was from 8-10 am. The monsoons were playing hooky and the day turned out to be quite humid.

There was a lot of enthusiasm in the air especially with several people who turned up early to cheer the runners. After every hour, runners had to change their direction and run anti clockwise. My turn came and soon I found myself running on those fiery red Tracks.

My team mate Mihir had set the track to a blazing start in his slot from 6- 8 am. He ran along with me initially to pep me up and help me get rid of those nervous knots that were entangled in my head. “Go slow and then pick up pace when you feel strong”, he said. I nodded. For a while I was caught up in the frenzy of claps and cheers after which I got into my own zone as I just went round and round.

It was a different feeling from the one when you run on a straight road. For one thing, you don’t know who is behind whom and who is overtaking one another.  It gives you that Olympic feeling and after every lap you feel like a Usain Bolt, charged up and read to run another round.

Road running often treats one to different visuals like the trees, roads, buildings and sometimes nature if you are running on a trail.  This is often a distraction if one feels the twinge of fatigue and wanting to give up. Track running is devoid of these scenic treats but the effervescent calls and spirited claps more than make up for this sort of merry go around run. Besides you always tend to derive that inspiration from your fellow runner running on the adjacent track.

After an hour, it was time to turn the other direction and run. It was 9 am and the heat began to seep in slowly. I plugged my music on firmly as I listened to a mix of some good Indi pop, retro and Electronic dance numbers which made it appear as though I was in some discotheque. The stadium atmosphere was nothing less than one with the radiant electrifying smiles and the gaily shouts of laughter.

As my time slot came to an end, I realised that running 2 hours in a circle was more a mind game than anything else. My admiration to those running for 12 hours increased double fold. It required great tenacity and will power to keep going in circles, I thought.

As I sat down on the sidelines, I gave a thumbs up sign to my team mate cum captain who was running in the 10-12 slot. Running, no doubt, was always considered a solo sport. However this relay run, which saw a lot of encouragement and motivation from by standers and fellow runners, gave one the feeling of playing a team sport.

When a runner enters the track, they are cheered and supported with great gusto. When they exit, it becomes their turn to give back equally and cheer with all their might. As mentioned earlier, the stadium run teaches an important lesson of life coming around a full circle.

With just a couple of weeks to go for the much awaited IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon Stadium run on June10th- 11th 2017, I decided to walk down memory lane to relive this exciting run organised by NEB Sports.

A run that millions yearn to be a part of, getting clicked by photographers, obtaining your team t shirt, medals, timed chips with volunteers in plenty and a sumptuous food spread throughout the day to cater to the famished appetites. Not to mention, the feeling of being part of a team and one of the biggest event of the year.

2017 edition sees a bigger and grander scale as this time there is a 24 hour run included as well, commencing from June 10th 5 pm onwards till June 11th 5 pm. It will see a lot of runners running on the track all night long.

While there will be a section of the population burning the dance floor in some remote night club that Saturday night, runners will be burning the tracks as  University Ground is bound the be the most happening place that Saturday night and entire sunday!