It was a sultry April morning in 2015 when my husband and I landed up at Otters club for our first MRR (Mumbai Road runners) run. As we got out of the car, we looked around at the jovial faces feeling initially quite at sea. We then noticed a cheerful faced person walking up to us and introducing himself as Samuel Chettiar who instantly made us feel at home.
I remember the weather being excessively warm considering it was the month of April. However the reception that we received during and post the run was undoubtedly warmer as I recollect going back home with pleasant memories and some new friends. It was no looking back after that and we sincerely dedicated every first Sunday of the month to our new family of runners.
Month after month, as we clocked our long runs, our camaraderie with this community only grew. It was interesting to see people from varied age groups, several parts of the city and different professional backgrounds come together for this occasion. MRR has managed to connect individuals with a similar passion from different corners of the humongous city of Mumbai which wasn’t feasible otherwise given the erratic schedules and mind numbing travel times.
It is due thanks to their vibrant Facebook page that encourages runners to post their queries, car pool with fellow runners from similar or neighbouring localities to reach a particular destination for an event, talk about their experiences of running on different trails, read the story behind every runner and engage in a healthy discussion.
Fun is definitely the USP of every MRR run as sincere efforts are taken to ensure that no runner is discriminated or judged based on their pace, distance or timing. Volunteers are stationed in plenty offering a kind word or two along with the necessary hydration. Every runner is given their due appreciation and included in the group photographs- a reminder of their memories on the roads.
Breaking the monotony is believed to be crucial and hence the off season months of March, April and May are utilized to engage in different kinds of sports besides running which includes Football and Ultimate Frisbee. Yoga sessions are also conducted on a regular basis barring the monsoon months of June, July, August and September. While running forms the core of MRR, activities like these brings people of other varied interests together which in turn has led to the growth of the community every year.
The glittering MRR awards function held on an annual basis post the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is an occasion for people to let their hair down, engage in a lot more effervescent activities like a skit or a dance and build a deeper bond with their fellow runners whom they would usually just wave out to during their long runs.
It has been 2 eventful years since I joined the Mumbai road runners and the camaraderie has only strengthened over the several months. Having been running since 2012, it was initially a lonely haul for both my husband and myself who would spend long hours on the road without a single person to acknowledge. Today it’s a different scenario where we eventually bump into familiar faces thanks to MRR.
Having been residents of South Mumbai for over ten years, we haven’t been able to make that many friends in this part of town as we have by the virtue of just being in a community like Mumbai road runners within a short span of 2 years. Today we have far more friends from other parts of the city than the uptight locality we are residing in.
Pondering at this irony, I often tend to dwell in remorse and regret that I didn’t join this vibrant community earlier. However the saying goes ‘When the student is ready, the master appears’. Perhaps there is a time for everything. Probably in April 2015, I was ready to learn, love, accept, empathize and not judge – the principles which MRR operates with.
It is sheer platform where everybody is a student and a teacher as this gigantic network offers something that everybody can learn from-be it a new comer, amateur or a veteran. The large-heartedness of the Mumbai road runners breaks barriers and distances by welcoming runners from all over the country and the world-a bond which is what makes runners feel at home and establish that connection. The rapport eventually goes beyond running and I term this as a Karmic connection!!