It was a sea of humanity. There was pomp and pageantry. There was colour. And, camaraderie. Mumbai came out to walk, run, jog, slog, and everything in between. While the serious runners sweated it out as the mercury showed no mercy of cooling things off, the rest seemed keen to be a part of this huge celebration in some way or the other. Causes, forums, messages were in full view as everyone seemed to have something to say, support or stand for. It was almost as if Mumbai’s voices had all come out at this one big celebration of its spirit. We loved the kiosks and stages set up along the way that regaled participants with their music and dance along the route. We also loved the extra cheers that senior citizens and the differently abled got as they neared the finishing line, often with a little extra nudge or a helping hand. Each a picture-perfect moment.
One felt especially for the police and the organisers who had a Herculean task managing at hand teeming crowds who spilled into South Mumbai from all directions. While this annual marathon has become a big ticket event on the city’s calendar, as it grows in numbers with every passing year, it’s important for the organisers to look into the dynamics of crowd control. “This feels like getting out of a fast local in Dadar station,” a fellow participant remarked. Our sentiments exactly. There were points, near the starting point, especially, where things got pretty bad as one tried hard to exhale amid the teeming crowds. We had to literally go with the flow and avoid getting walked over rather than proceed smoothly freely, as we had hoped initially. Hardly a ‘Dream Run’, as we slow-walked our way through most of the first stretch of this 6-km run. Having done this stretch after nearly a decade, the swelling of the crowds caught one off-balance, literally.
One hopes that the coming editions will look into this very crucial factor, to ensure it remains a safe, pleasant and memorable experience, especially for first-timers and those who wish to savour a slice of Mumbai, in this amazingly vibrant avatar. We can’t wait!
The writer is Features Editor of mid-day