Category Archives: Group Runs and Events

United V Run

United v stand Divided we fall,
Is a famous line that I recall.
Assembling in blue and white
We gathered with all our might
Ready to run as one,
Defying the scorching summer sun.
Darkness loomed the park,
With a faint sound of a dog’s bark.
At the stroke of six,
It was an eclectic mix.
Some from far some from near
Yet our vision was clear.
Age, caste, creed, gender or group
We firmly held together as a Troup
No difference no bias
Just a feeling of being pious.
Andheri, Bandra,  Navi Mumbai, Powai or town,
Our antics were no less than a clown,
We ran together with smiles,
Melting those egos with every mile.
As we ended the run,
We recalled the moments of  fun.
That’s how it should be
The feeling of oneness and Glee.
Runners are a carefree lot,
That’s how it was initially taught,
Pace, time, fast or slow
The ones who stride always glow.
Runners must strive to grow
And restrain from stooping low
Holding our heads always high
We must welcome all with glory and a hi five.

Truly Special: The awetism run experience

April being a month dedicated to autism, there were naturally a few videos with thought provoking messages floating around. I happened to watch one forwarded by my friend Mallika which stated about how each of us were different and unique in our own way. For instance a certain image is perceived differently by different people but it doesn’t necessarily mean that those who were different from us were ‘strange’, ‘peculiar’ or ‘weird’.

I had read somewhere that it takes all sorts to make a world. We all have our share of eccentricities and shortcomings but that’s probably what makes us so special. The same logic applies to individuals with special needs whether they are intellectually challenged, wheel chair bound or diagnosed with autism. All they need is that extra dose of care, acceptance and patience which isn’t too hard to bestow if we just awaken that humane side to us.

Being primarily a student of psychology, I had an opportunity to work with autistic kids as a part of my project during my post graduate days. They were an affectionate lot who resided in their unique world of creativity which many unfortunately misconstrued as ‘madness’.  Therefore when I got an opportunity to run the 4th edition of the awetism run, I embraced this opportunity to put my foot forward for a cause.

Sayuri-a runner friend and the organiser of this event conducted this event every year in the month of April. Her son Vihaan who is diagnosed with autism is an extremely talented young lad who possessed a flair for painting and weaving short stories as well.

It was a 10 k run which was conducted on the Eastern Express Highway-a scenic flat terrain frequented mostly by runners from Mulund, Powai, Ghatkopar and Thane.

We reached the venue at 5:40 am as the run was scheduled to begin at 6:00 am. The warm hugs, smiles and chatter set the tone for the short distance as we geared up to run 4 loops of the 2.5 km stretch. The race was flagged off sharp at 6:00 am.

Since I was following the Maffetone training program (a heart rate based run where one had to maintain pace within the heart rate and aerobic zone), I decided to go slow and enjoy the run for a change. The volunteers were stationed with hydration at regular intervals and earnest photographers stood in the by lanes clicking away merrily.

Not listening to music like I normally do during my runs, gave me an opportunity to enjoy the constant shouts of ‘good going’ by fellow runners and the noise of the planes above. Such runs also gave me ample time to let those thoughts flow as my thinking cap went on an active mode.

As I observed the several runners prancing up and down the road, I reflected back to the video which I had seen the previous day. There were some who were running fast, a few at a moderate pace and others in a relaxed manner. I realised how the same track was run by individuals of varying kinds and yet when it came to the camaraderie post the finish line, we were all equals posing gaily in front of the cameras, arm in arm with one another.

Nobody was differentiated based on speed or timing.  Each person possessed their own strengths and shortcomings which may make them sometimes ahead and sometimes fall behind others. Ultimately it was their spirit and earnestness that triumphed over these petty factors.

The awetism run further enhanced the fact that running is a free and equal sport, which meant embracing everyone despite the several differences, yes including those with special needs as well. It made me feel that aspects like speed, normalcy and madness were relative as what may be considered fast or normal for one may differ for another.

As I stood there basking in the jubilation around, I suddenly remembered the Cheshire cat’s line where he tells Alice “I’m mad. You’re mad. We’re all mad here. I realised how true it was. Underneath all that high spirited laughter lay those inner demons or turmoil that each of us were battling with and that which probably drove us to the brink of insanity at times.

The awetism run was truly ‘special’ in many ways besides being a well organised one, providing beautiful medals and a breakfast of delicious muffins, batata wadas and mango juice.

This event enabled me to look at running through a different lens this time. For once my focus was not on pace or timing, but on the larger things of life that we often miss out in the hullaballoo of the rat race.

An uphill task- The Kundalika River Marathon experience

I had run the Kundalika River marathon last year without any practise on the hills or any kind of core and strength training. I merely went as a naive child not realising how daunting the hills could be especially in the evening when the sun was at its peak. I still managed to finish 3rd by the grace of the almighty.

This year I decided to train really hard and attempt this gruelling terrain again. Long runs were done on steep inclines, core and leg strengthening were followed with utmost sincerity to get those glutes, calves and quads in shape. By the time Feb 25th 2017 came, I was ready.

It was a 3 hour drive from Mumbai to Kolad where the race was scheduled. Tucking in an early light lunch of salad and green veggies at 11:00 noon, we basked in the picturesque and scenic setting. The village side comprised of bountiful fields, cacti and water bodies which glistened in the fierce heat. Despite being February, winter seemed to have surrendered to the dominant summer which was ready to rule the roost for the next 3-4 months.

Reaching the venue 2 hours prior to the race, we decided to relax in the canteen after collecting our bibs. This year the half marathon was slated to commence at 4 pm-30 mins earlier than the previous year’s edition, which meant more time in the sun. It was a blistering 37 degrees outside. Deciding not to give it too much thought, I munched on the water melons an hour before the race, to cool my system and get the necessary glucose at the same time.

We met a few runner friends from Mumbai and engaged in an intense discussion on conquering the mighty slopes as we walked towards the start line. After the warm up session, the race flagged off sharp at 4 pm. My hubby Amit and I were going strong for the first 5 km enjoying the panoramic beauty of the rugged trail, the lake on the left and the cattle grazing in the fields on either side.

Being a muddy terrain, the fumes got to me after a point, making my throat feel heavy as I started coughing profusely. Fortunately there were aid stations almost every kilometre serving water, enerzal and some fruits. I took a sip of water and continued. Eventually the unbearable heat got to us and it felt like running inside a hot elongated microwave oven.

This was going to be one tough run. I just wished I had signed up for a 10 k race”, I mentioned to Amit. “So let’s turn here and finish just 10 k”, he replied. I shook my head and said that doing a DNF (did not finish) would be a bruise to my ego especially when my limbs and arms were injury free and functioning fine. I just had to battle the heat which I had underestimated during my training runs.  Running at 9 or 9:30 am was way different from running at 4 pm where the heat was raw and brutal in the latter case.

I distracted my mind and looked at the fields and the villagers. After crossing 9 km, I suddenly realised that I had left Amit behind. After turning at the 10.5 km mark, I met him on the way and I continued to run hoping that he would catch up with me.  11k, 12k, 13k- there was no sign of him as I bypassed a few runners on the road.

At one point, I was wondering why I was putting myself through this torture. I then remembered someone telling me something a while back-in life there is an easy and a tough route. An easy route nevertheless guarantees a smooth ride but fails to incorporate the vital lessons that moulds your personality into a strong one. Taking the road less travelled  always tests your abilities and shapes your psyche into a tough persona, ready to face the challenges that comes your way.

The heat wave continued till about 16-17 km unlike last year where the sun eased off post the first half of the race. I spotted a few villagers walking by and throwing sympathetic glances towards my direction. The cattle also began to find its way home.

A funny incident occurred at the 18th km mark. As I was running with full focus, I suddenly spotted 4 cows with those long deadly horns on the right side. They were standing still and staring at me in an eerie manner. I looked around to find that there was not a single villager or a cow herd around. I hesitated and almost stopped in my tracks, unsure of whether they would come charging at me.

Then suddenly I took off like a maniac and ran downhill and looked behind after a while. They were not in sight and probably were still stationed there looking ahead in their lazy fashion. I began to feel foolish thinking that I had probably overreacted. It was just 2.5 km to go there on and I continued my run.

The last 1 km comprised of a deadly slope which even the best runners chose to walk over rather than battling it. At that juncture, a runner friend Girish Bindra who had finished his run had returned and gestured saying I was second. My energy was drained by then and I was glad to have him pace me that last 1 km. After we ran up the slope, he encouraged me to finish strong and I gathered all my reserves and sprinted to the finish line in 2:36, finishing 2nd in the open category. I was elated to have cut down 2-3 minutes from the previous year despite the fact the conditions were tougher this year.

I walked around and waited for Amit who came in ten minutes later. After collecting my trophy, I munched on some Pav Bhaji and headed home after thanking the organisers and congratulating friends who had won podiums in their respective categories.

It was a long, tiring yet satisfying day. I had finished stronger and faster than last year. I was glad that all the hard work had paid off. As we drove back home, I reminisced the entire run. I had trained well on the hills this year and the trick to not let Kundalika dominate you was to train in the afternoon sun in the hills to acclimatize your body to the blistering heat.

Instantly a quote came to my mind” Don’t think of them as hills, think of them as moulds of opportunity.”

It was certainly an opportunity to get tougher and stronger!!

Thank you Runbuddies, volunteers and photographers as this is one race that remains etched in my mind forever.

Jungle Hooked-The Auroville Marathon experience

The Auroville marathon had been on our bucket list for a while after hearing rave reviews about the beauty of its route. After an elusive 2 years, we finally made it to the 10th edition which was on February 12th 2017. It was a 3-4 hour drive from Chennai city which made it convenient for us to park ourselves with our respective families in our home town for a couple of days before we headed to our race destination.

My husband Amit and I along with a group of Chennai runners who called themselves Pillar Pacers headed by Dr Kumar Janardhan began our journey on Saturday morning. It was a picturesque drive from Chennai on the east coast road (ECR as it is popularly known as) which took us through Mahabalipuram, VGP Golden beach and MGM Dizee world, bringing back memories of our childhood excursions here. We made a few stops on the way at a South Indian joint to grab a cup of coffee, the breath taking salt pans and the winding roads for our mandatory photo shoots and selfies.

It also gave us an opportunity to interact with some of the runners from Chennai-an enthusiastic bunch who purely ran for the fun factor rather than stressing on mileage, pace, position, time, etc. It came across as a breath of fresh air to listen to their experiences of running races like the Cherrapunji marathon with that sparkle of unadulterated joy in their eyes.

We reached Auroville by afternoon, collected our bibs, bought T shirts which costed around Rs 300 each, grabbed a bite of lunch at the Auroville centre, bought a couple of cakes from Auroville Bakery (a must visit)  and headed back to Pondicherry (12 km from the start line) to halt for the night. The half marathon commenced at 6:15 am and we reached the venue 30 minutes prior to the event the next morning.

The race began on time and we decided to enjoy the route rather than stress on the minutes ticking away. It was a rather muddy trail consisting of some hard pebbles and by no means an easy one. The mud had a sort of reddish tinge to it.  Dr Kumar jokingly told us that post the race, our shoes will be unrecognizable. So many runners usually take a pre and post-race pictures of their shoes as a memoir to show how hard they have run.

After a few kilometers, we were soon treated to the first rays of the sun falling on some shrubs. Only a partial part of the leaves glowed in the light making it quite a pretty picture. For a moment, we wistfully wished that we had brought our cameras.  As we ran ahead, we soon found ourselves entwined by trees and creepers on both ends. Red ant hills were found plenty on the sides of the trail, reminding us of pictures depicted in the Amar Chitra Katha stories where sages usually spent their time in deep meditation. No wonder many said that the Auroville marathon was to be enjoyed rather than raced as it instilled that calming factor in you. This run was nothing less than a meditation as we soon fell into a trance of this enchanting forest.

The winding pathways soon gave way to several twists and turns making us go in a zig- zag manner. “It reminds me of a snakes coil” I chuckled to Amit as we paused at one of the water stations which was there almost every kilometer with volunteers handing out oranges, bananas and energy drinks. The music from my speakers seemed to be in sync with the scenic surroundings as I began to imagine myself as a Sambar deer running in the woods.

The beauty of the trail continued to mesmerize us and things were going well until the 15th km mark. We saw the 10 km runners,who had just began their race, streaming in so fast, reminding me of those herd of buffaloes scurrying away in fright on hearing the tiger approaching them. I slowed down cautiously not wanting to elbow or trip over them as that portion of the trail was narrow.

Unfortunately for some reason I tripped over a stone and fell down flat bruising my knees. A few concerned runners stopped and asked if I was fine. I nodded, stood up and began to walk a few steps. Thankfully neither my ankle nor my foot was sprained. Amit came over with a worried expression and patted my shoulder. “Your knees look bad Swe”, he said.

Suddenly something in me snapped as I was furious at myself for having fallen down even though it wasn’t my fault. “I am not going to give up. Hell with my knees, I will reach the finish line in style.” I told myself. Now anger usually makes me perform better for some reason. I was instantly reminded of the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag where Milkha Singh was heavily bruised by his jealous counterparts but still ran the race next day and broke the national record.

I always tend to draw inspiration from sports-persons especially those who fight against the odds be it former running champions, a nail biting cricket match where a player blasts away the runs with a fierce expression on his face or the Indian army who fight it out in trying circumstances, bleeding with pierced bullets.

The adrenaline rush set in as I kept going, visualizing the finish line. I soon reached the 20th km mark. Feeling no pain, I decided to accelerate that last 1 km. I could faintly hear the drum beats and music. I saw the finish line at a distance and sprinted ahead giving a hi-five to the by standers on the side-lines as they cheered for us. Overtaking the foreigner in front and many others, I ran till I crossed the finish line in 2:06.

I was elated to finish strong and this had been my best on any trail run done so far. This year they had presented runners with medals and I was happy to get mine-a wooden carving which said Auroville Marathon 10th edition. The design on it sort of reminded me of the Batman image.

Rushing to the medical centre, I got my wound cleaned up and applied an ointment. Clicking a mandatory picture, we soon chatted with other runners. A lot of people gazed at my knee in horror and asked “Are you OK?”, to which I nodded with a smile. As we walked out, Amit noticed many people staring at my knees and mentioned the same to me. I shrugged and joked saying “Why they would look at my knees when there were more scenic things to look at, considering the beauty of the surroundings?

 

We headed back to the hotel, changed and drove down to Chennai to take that Tetanus injection immediately. It was an enjoyable experience overall except maybe for that fall.

Philosopher Confucius said Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” I was glad that I had risen in a strong manner and this Auroville run will be one of my greatest glory ever as I have emerged stronger mentally!

Gripped by the fitness mania- The Navrun 2016 experience

9 days, 9 km , 9 colours,
What’s life without a bit of fervour?
It was runners way of celebrating Navaratri,
While the others fast, dance , dine or sway in awry.

First day portrayed shades of grey,
Dull and gloomy unlikely the Suns ray.
However adorning orange the next day,
Made us feel happy and gay.

Day 3 saw us all in white,
A peaceful shade warding  off any demons or a fight.
Red followed suit in confidence and grandeur,
Increasing the energy levels to a notch higher.

Navy blue embarked day five,
Exuding a sense of glory with its deep dye.
Contrast to this shade so deep,
Came the colour yellow with a loud beep,
Enough to send us into a joyful cheer,
Demolishing our inner doubts and the slightest fear.

As Day 7 saw us adorn a bright green,
Nature’s colour made our faces beam.
Strutting about  with confidence and pride,
The peacock green shade on day 8 enhanced our stylish stride.

Day 9 in purple made us feel like royalty,
Our commitment towards navrun quite evident with our loyalty.
Those Non stop workouts for 9 days,
Made us feel quite in a daze.

Just as we were wanting more,
The extra 2 days this year made our spirits soar.
The Sky blue Colour on day ten,
Made us feel calmer as though we were in heaven.

The last day arrived in a blink,
While we beautified ourselves in pink.
These 11 days of the festive mode,
Took us through the good health road.

We were all on cloud nine,
As we geared up to dance and dine.
Whether it was a garba or dandiya,
We were all by now gripped by the fitness mania.

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On Cloud 9-9 km 9 days 9 colours- My Navrun Experience

Navrun-A unique concept by the Mumbai road runners which introduced a novel way of celebrating Navratri. 9 days, 9 colours and running 9 km every one of those 9 days was our runners way of basking in the festivities. 2015 was my first tryst with this novel concept and it was lots of fun, adorning those resplendent colours and sharing your updates on social media. Befriended quite a number of people in the process. Reminiscing the entire journey as I gear up for Navrun 3.0 this year. Thank you Bijay Nair. 
81 km in 9 days?? That sounded like running an ultra-marathon only difference being that this distance was spread over a generous 9 days. What was I thinking when I accepted this challenge by my runners group? Mumbai Road runners (MRR) the group with whom I run 21 km every 1st Sunday of the month, came up with this fun initiative called ‘Navrun’ during Navratri.
While several people fasted and did their religious rituals-the only religion we runners know and follow is running. So why not run 9 km for those 9 days wearing 9 different colour t shirts akin to Navratri? An interesting concept albeit a challenging one undoubtedly.
Being mostly a half marathoner, with only 1 full marathon to my credit, I was wondering how to go about this daunting task. But my mind was made up as I clicked on the ‘going’ button of the event page feeling determined to test my endurance levels.
My first step was to assemble the 9 different coloured T shirts prescribed for those 9 days. The second was to set up a running app and record the distance and time as a proof of the run. I also set up the photo grid app as each of the participant had to post their photo along with the distance everyday on the event page. The eve of Navratri had arrived. I could barely sleep just thinking about the excitement that was awaiting me for the next 9 days.
The first day dawned nice and bright pertaining to the colour of the day-red. This bright shade exuded energy and positivity which was displayed in my running form as I cracked 10 km in an hours’ time. Not a bad start at all. Day 1 of ‘Navran’ was completed successfully. Being someone who isn’t comfortable with selfies, the hardest part of this entire challenge was finding someone to take your picture post the run. But the humble request accompanied with a sweet smile worked wonders as people willingly obliged. I instantly uploaded the photo with my distance and time on the event page. It received a tremendous response which was completely unexpected and that’s probably what made it overwhelming.
Day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 went by successfully and I had run 54 km so far. Each of these colours reflected the particular state of mind which influenced that particular day’s energy levels with regards to my run. Ink blue made me feel royal as I conquered the road feeling like a queen. Yellow made me feel as though I possessed the sun’s rays and my body felt like a grid harnessing solar power as my energy levels were spiked for some reason that particular day as I clocked 9 km in 53 mins. Green made me feel like one amidst nature basking in the glory of the environment and surroundings. Grey was a colour that reflected my mood to that of a sober one allowing that little imp of a self-doubt to creep into my brain for a short while only to be banished as I sported an orange T shirt the next day.
Everyday my posts would be received with encouragement and cheer from my friends. It was amazing how everyone shared your journey in their own special way, and encouraged you to complete this challenge with gusto. The last 3 days of Navran were left. By now energy levels for some reason were still high and the positive comments and feedback seemed to spike them up even more, giving some stiff competition to Gatorade and Enerzal.
The colour white on day 7 awakened my inner peace and incidentally its a colour I identify with as my name ‘Sweth’ indicates the same. Day 8 saw me in the ‘pink’ of health literally as I adorned a pink shirt during my strides. Day 9 depicted a lot of clarity in thought just like the clear skies on a spring money.  Clad in a blue t shirt, I finished the last stretch of Navrun successfully with a huge smile on my face.
Was it relief, joy, elation or a sense of accomplishment?? I couldn’t tell. Maybe a cocktail of all these emotions as I actually felt the runner’s high to an extent that could probably put 9 glasses of beer to shame.
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Now the fun part of this entire journey was getting to see fellow runner participants post their photos, cheering and encouraging them to get through these 9 days. Most of them were veterans and seniors yet their enthusiasm levels were as contagious as that of a child’s. Deriving inspiration from such fun loving beings was one of the factors that kept me going during this festive season. Did I ever feel like giving up? Not once. I realized that once you set your goal, you sort of found your purpose even if it was for a short term, which makes you feel alive as you welcome each day with a new found zest. The runner in me continued to feel alive, despite the humidity levels and despite the fact that my work as a journalist doubled up with the number of personalities I had to interview that month. Each day was a challenge by itself but something in the air kept that positive spirit and the never say die attitude in me.
I realized that every stride was accompanied with the feeling of elation and these 9 days enabled me to discover why I enjoyed running so much. The free spirit in me thrived on this limitless bountiful journey that Navrun capitalised on, allowing me to actually embrace this beautiful gift called life. Do I feel drained? Far from it. In fact I now know what it is like to be on cloud 9!! And the journey continues….

Running with rains

Running in rains is fun, even at this old age! So last Sunday (July 3, 2016)when I got ready in the small hours to get off to the long run, the din outside, of rains rushing in and out only added to the excitement. But then, there was also the excitement of wearing the new green monogrammed tee shirt of Mumbai Road Runners and what made it special was that it was the sixth anniversary run of MRR. Reluctance to get my brand new MRR greens soaked in rain drops (before it gets drenched in sweat) made me wait for a while and as soon as it became silent outside, I jumped out and started jogging. Soon rains came back to accompany me in the long lonely run. Run was a lonely one as while the rest of the MRR gang (well, most of them) started from the other end of the town, it was a solitary journey for me till the half way mark.
As I gathered momentum and gained speed, my sole companion also reciprocated with equal enthusiasm. And as the rain drops started falling more frequently, heavily and ferociously on my face, it became increasingly difficult for me to see through the glasses– alas, it did not have wipers. So I decided to tuck away the spectacles in the waist pouch. Now at least, I could wipe of the water from my eyes, without the hassle of taking it off every time I needed a clear vision. Running without glasses was almost like running during my younger days when my vision was not limited by such long and short sights. Unfortunately, after those distant childhood days, when one run with gay abandon, by the time I rediscovered the joy of run, I have had already became a (not-so) wise old man and the glasses had become indispensable part of my face.
Soon, I realised that running without glasses was like driving with GPS. With GPS, one gets a broad idea of the route but until one reaches a place, won’t know how good or bad the road and the roadside look. With my power vision off and heavy rains unleashing on my eyes, it was often a struggle to recognise the run buddies, until they came very close by and by the time I gathered my faculties, recognised them through my blurred vision and wished/reciprocated, they would have already covered another kilometer behind me. The easy way to recognise one’s pals, I soon figured out, was to focus on the green colour, for MR Runners were all expected to be in the new MRR greens that day. So, whenever I spotted anyone in green (or what I thought was green), I started waiving enthusiastically at them and ignored all the non-greens. It was while I was excitedly greeting one of those greens (could not even recognize who it was) and moving on, I heard a greeting, apparently from two runners coming against me but were not in greens and hence I had not cared to notice. And only after they went past, I realised that it was Swetha Amit and Amit Sridharan who were in those red and blue tees!

Going by the large number of friends/known faces whom I saw at the finishing point at the end of the 21 odd kilometres, I am sure, I would have missed quite a lot in the din and the blurred vision during the first half of my run, when I was running against them! In fact, even when one’s vision is not limited by the pounding rains and a defective retina, seeing friends coming from the opposite direction while running upstream was more like going through a power point presentation, fast forward – as you gasp and blink each time, a couple of runners would have already crossed you, acknowledging your struggle with a friendly smile or wave or a ‘hi’ scream, which you fail to notice.
As I reached the halfway mark at Worli, the major relief was that I did not have to struggle to identify the runners coming against me. But then, most of them had already gone far ahead and only a few stragglers like me remained on that stretch of the run. The sweetened gooseberries and the energy ‘solution’ provided by the volunteers at Worli (Mela) made life a lot easier. By the time I finished another bottle of water provided by volunteers at Wilson College and reached the far end of Marine Drive, the final ceremonies of MRR monthly run were well in progress. I could hear the crowd cheering at the prize winners. The familiar sight of Samuel Chettiar,Bijay Nair et al entertaining the runners with their wise cracks, the tempting breakfast spread smiling at you and the bubbly runners were all quite reassuring though I missed the winding down session led by Giles. Well, such is the way of the long distance run…

On Cloud 9-9 km 9 days 9 colours- My Navran Experience

Its been 28 days since I completed Navran-where we runners ran 9 km for those 9 days during navratri wearing 9 different colours. Reminiscing the journey of running 81 km in 9 days while gearing up for the upcoming marathon season the commences from Nov 22nd.

81 km in 9 days?? That sounded like running an ultra-marathon only difference being that this distance was spread over a generous 9 days. What was I thinking when I accepted this challenge by my runners group? Mumbai Road runners (MRR) the group with whom I run 21 km every 1st Sunday of the month, came up with this fun initiative called ‘Navran’ during Navratri. While several people fasted and did their religious rituals-the only religion we runners know and follow is running. So why not run 9 km for those 9 days wearing 9 different colour t shirts akin to Navratri? An interesting concept but a challenging one undoubtedly. Being mostly a half marathoner, with only 1 full marathon to my credit, I was wondering how to go about this daunting task. But my mind was made up as I clicked on the ‘going ‘button of the event page feeling determined to test my endurance levels.

My first step was to assemble the 9 different coloured T shirts prescribed for those 9 days. The second was to set up a running app and record the distance and time as a proof of the run. I also set up the photo grid app as each of the participant had to post their photo along with the distance everyday on the event page. The eve of Navratri had arrived. I could barely sleep just thinking about the excitement that was awaiting me for the next 9 days.

The first day dawned nice and bright pertaining to the colour of the day-red. This bright shade exuded energy and positivity which was displayed in my running form as I cracked 10 km in an hours’ time. Not a bad start at all. Day 1 of ‘Navran’ was completed successfully. Being someone who isn’t comfortable with selfies, the hardest part of this entire challenge was finding someone to take your picture post the run. But the humble request accompanied with a sweet smile worked wonders as people willingly obliged. I instantly uploaded the photo with my distance and time on the event page. It received a tremendous response which was completely unexpected and that’s probably what made it overwhelming.

Day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 went by successfully and I had run 54 km so far. Each of those colours reflected the particular state of mind which influenced that day’s energy levels with regards to my run. Ink blue made me feel royal as I conquered the road feeling like a queen. Yellow made me feel as though I possessed the sun’s rays and my body felt like a grid harnessing solar power as my energy levels were spiked for some reason that particular day as I clocked 9 km in 63 mins. Green made me feel like one amidst nature basking in the glory of the environment and surroundings. Grey was a colour that reflected my mood to that of a sober one allowing that little imp of a self-doubt to creep into my brain for a short while only to be banished as I sported an orange T shirt the next day.

Everyday my posts would be received with encouragement and cheer from my friends. It was amazing how everyone shared your journey in their own special way, and encouraged you to complete this challenge with gusto. The last 3 days of Navran were left. By now energy levels for some reason were still high and the positive comments and feedback seemed to spike them up even more, giving some stiff competition to Gatorade and Enerzal. The colours white, pink and sky blue left me feeling calm, peaceful and serene as I ran the last stretch of Navran successfully.

Was it relief, joy, elation or a sense of accomplishment?? I couldn’t tell. Maybe a cocktail of all these emotions as I actually felt the runner’s high to an extent that could probably put 9 glasses of beer to shame.

Now the fun part of this entire journey was getting to see fellow runner participants post their photos, cheering and encouraging them to get through these 9 days. Most of them were veterans and seniors yet their enthusiasm levels were as contagious as that of a child’s. Deriving inspiration from such fun loving beings was one of the factors that kept me going during this festive season. Did I ever feel like giving up? Not once. I realized that once you set your goal, you sort of found your purpose even if it was for a short term, which makes you feel alive as you welcome each day with a new found zest. The runner in me continued to feel alive, despite the humidity levels and despite the fact that my work as a journalist doubled up with the number of personalities I had to interview that month. Each day was a challenge by itself but something in the air kept that positive spirit and the never say die attitude in me.

I realized that every stride was accompanied with the feeling of elation and these 9 days enabled me to discover why I enjoyed running so much. The free spirit in me thrived on this limitless bountiful journey that Navran capitalised, allowing me to actually embrace this beautiful gift called life. Do I feel drained? Far from it. In fact I now know what it is like to be on cloud 9!! And the journey continues….

Mumbai Runners (monthly) Ritual by Shyam Sunder

Shyam Sunder shares his MRR – Bandra to NCPA experience………
Three years ago, when Swami of IRIS introduced me to MRR and Bandra-NCPA run, I didn’t realise that it was going to be an integral part of my training schedule. Initially, I did only a couple of these runs every year, but over the period I have found that there is some kind of magic that attracts runners like me from Navi Mumbai to come all the way to Bandra for these training runs. In fact, I am happy to say that I have not missed any single Bandra NCPA monthly run this year so far. What makes this training run click? First of all, it is a training run, that tries to simulate the conditions of a HM race. At the same time, you run at your pace without the pressure of racing. Secondly, the route is a familiar terrain for all those who have done SCMM. On a Sunday, when the traffic is less, you can have a peaceful run along this well-known and enjoyable route that also includes running along the Worli and Chowpatty sea face. More than these, what strikes any newcomer to this run is the sincerity of the organisers (like Ram, Giles, and many others) and the dedication of volunteers, who help out at the water stations and photographers, who make every one of these runs memorable. You pay just 50 or 100 rupees and get this kind of service- and even sumptuous breakfast sometimes- whenever the run is powered by a sponsor. It is all the more remarkable, when we think of other running events, where the organisers fleece the participants to the tune of Rs.800 to Rs.1000 without providing any reasonable services. So, it makes even economic sense to ditch expensive outstation trips for marathons and choose Bandra NCPA runs instead. That is precisely, what I have been doing these days. I am impressed by the fact that this training run always starts on time- exactly at 5.30 am, whether there is sufficient quorum or not. Another important offshoot of coming to Bandra-NCPA runs is that we get to know the who’s who of Mumbai runners. Personally, I have had the good fortune to rub shoulders with some of the finest runners in this town and enjoy there comraderie. MRR tries to make this run a fun run. At the end of the run, there are always some surprises. May be it is a lottery to win an MRR tee or it is to honour some interesting running personality. I will always remember the day, when MRR surprised me and Amit Yadav (of Navi Mumbai) by offering us flower bouquets for our podium performance in the Thane Hiranandani HM. These are some of the interesting aspects of Bandra-NCPA organised by MRR that makes me canvass for it among runners in Navi Mumbai. This is precisely the reason, so many runners from distant places come all the way to be a part of this what I may call MRR – “Mumbai Runners( monthly) Ritual”. –

MRR’s mascot Kani

Report in Mid-Day of 20th September, 2015 about MRR mascot dog Kani.

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Kani, the road runner
IF you’re a runner with the Mumbai Road Runners, you’d know that no race is complete without Kani, the endearing mongrel, who happily dashes the entire stretch of 19 km from Bandra to NCPA, Nariman Point, with them. Kani, who lost his eyesight in 2013 after being attacked by strays, doesn’t let that come in the way of his love for running.

mascot

kani