Has marathon man Kalmadi run out of gas?

Sunday’s version of the Pune International Marathon (PIM) was a somewhat of a litmus test for tainted Member of Parliament (MP) Suresh Kalmadi. And judging by the response, the ousted Congress leader — who’s the organiser of the event — must have been left a little red in the face. 

Falling behind: Suresh Kalmadi at the Pune International Marathon 2013 yesterday

Not only was this year’s programme lacking in glamour quotient, it also witnessed abridged participation. In previous years, traffic had to be rerouted to accommodate the event, but that wasn’t the case this time.

In fact, one could see PMPML buses passing by Tilak chowk, next to some of the runners. Bollywood celebrities like Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Neha Dhupia, Chunkey Pandey and others have graced the event in the past.

This year’s PIM was inaugurated by state cooperation minister Harshwardhan Patil and international shooter Anjali Bhagwat. Throughout the sporting meet, athletes were seen dodging auto rickshaws, buses and two-wheelers on the way.

It’s also worth mentioning that Pune Municipal Corporation’s standing committee, which had set aside Rs 25 lakh for the event in 2011, supplied only Rs 17 lakh in 2012.

Keeping pace: Children, senior citizens, men, women, corporate honchos, students, doctors, the physically disabled — people from across the spectrum participated in the event on Sunday morning. Pics/Krunal Gosavi

When MiD DAY asked the committee’s chairman Vishal Tambe about the allocation this time, he said, “I cannot confirm how much money we have given them for this year’s marathon.

But, it is apportioned according to the ranking system of programmes, and is allocated via a cheque.” Last year, the marathon had witnessed more than 35,000 participants. This year, the figure was around to 25,000.

Talking about the overall organisation of PIM 2013, Pralhad Sawant, race director, said, “We are satisfied with the participation, and got a good response from athletes coming from across the globe.

Three months ago we held a public seminar, to find out the aspirations of Punekars regarding PIM. From that we learnt that rather than bringing celebrities for the event, we should focus on the facilities provided.

So this year, no stars were called for the opening and prize distribution ceremonies. In fact, now we are thinking that PIM should be organised twice a year.”

However, when MiD DAY contacted state Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil, he said, “After observing the inadequate response to such marathons, Punekars have become discerning. This is an eye-opener for everyone.”

Approx number of participants in Pune International Marathon 2013

Approx number of participants in last year’s edition of the event

Traffic movement during the marathon was pretty smooth, “There wasn’t a very big response to the marathon, and we had apprised the organisers that we would not stop the entire flow of a vehicles on a road while the event was on. As runners were usually at a considerable distance from each other, we were allowing vehicles to pass through. Overall, the traffic flow was smooth, and there was no problem in regulating it while the marathon was on,” said DCP (traffic) Vishwas Pandhare.

Ethiopians rule the roost
Ethiopia’s Belachew Endale Abayneh clinched his maiden crown at the 28th Pune International Marathon, crossing the finish line at Nehru Stadium after clocking two hours, 17 minutes and 52 seconds.

Ahead of the pack: Ethiopia’s Belachew Endale Abayneh clinched his maiden crown at the 28th Pune International Marathon

He was followed across the finish line by Kenyan Ezekiel Cherop, who clocked 2:18.16 and Ethiopian Edisa Merga Ejigu in 2:20.33.

In the women’s half marathon run of 21 km, again Ethiopia’s Aberu Jehedu Tesema won the first prize, by completing the run in 1hr, 16min and 57 sec.

The men’s half-marathon had a photo-finish with Habtamu Arga Wegi of Ethiopia beating his Kenyan rival Yegon Daniel Cheruiyot after both clocked 1:04.21.

Ethiopian Melaku Belachew Bizuneh finished third with 1:04.30.

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