Organizing is a journey, not a destination.– Anonymous As a part of the race organizer series, presenting my interview with Praful Uchil of striders and the organizer of the Hiranandani Thane Half Marathon (HTHM)..  

1. What inspired you to become a race organizer and how long have you been in this field? 

 Striders recently completed 13 years of training people for marathons. It’s been 10 years since we began organizing events.  

 2. What according to you are the prerequisites of a good race that will ensure a good race, which is liked by the participants? 

 In order to organize a good race, you have to think from a runner’s point of view and that’s what we call runners’ experience.  Right from registration to medal distribution, the runner should not be inconvenienced.

 3. What are the kind of rigorous preparations that needs to be made before any race? 

Each and every element has to be in place. This is right from the entry point, parking, medical arrangement on route, adequate number of ambulances and their placements, port-a-loos, placement of barricades and cones, baggage counters, holding area, route management, crew deployment to hydration points. 

All this has to be managed by different teams and responsible heads. All these heads need to coordinate with each other and be in sync for the event to be successful.

 4. Do you think the race organization should be standardized in India, with minimum protocols to be followed by everybody? 

 Yes. It definitely has to standardized. Otherwise anybody and everybody will start organizing events. 

 5. With the number of races increasing every year, how challenging is it to draw crowds or avoid clashing dates with another event? 

 If you have a good track record of organizing events, you can attract runners every for every edition. This includes old as well as new runners.

 6. What are the pitfalls you see as far as organization a running race in India is concerned?

 A surge in the number of events being organized is a cause of multiple concerns. For instance, the inconvenience caused to the general public, lack of support from authorities, runners participating in too many events at shorter intervals and drop in the quality of events.

 7. How do you view the MRR Race Rating program. Do you feel any changes needs to be made into it? 

This is a good initiative.  This will help runners to pick and choose the events that they wish to participate in.

 8. What are your future plans? How do you see the marathon scene going forward in India? 

We are primarily a fitness training company and would want to grow by opening new training centres across India. At present, we are operational in 21 cities.  

In Mumbai, we intend on adding 3 more training locations to the existing 27 centres. 

As far as organizing marathons is considered, we would like to explore newer regions to spread the awareness and benefits of running.–