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Mumbai Marathon has been a steep learning curve: Hugh Jones

A whopping 39,510 people will take to the streets of Mumbai for the 11th edition of the Mumbai Marathon this Sunday. Add to that the massive crowds that will converge on the streets on race day and you have a faint idea of the daunting odds facing Hugh Jones, the race director of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM)

Mumbai: A whopping 39,510 people will take to the streets of Mumbai for the 11th edition of the Mumbai Marathon this Sunday. Add to that the massive crowds that will converge on the streets on race day and you have a faint idea of the daunting odds facing Hugh Jones, the race director of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM).

Hugh Jones
SCMM race director Hugh Jones. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

However, the 58-year-old seemed to be at ease at the event’s technical press conference yesterday. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that Jones has been the race director of the event since its inception back in 2004 and has not just seen it evolve from an idea to reality but has also learnt valuable lessons along the way.

“We improve every year in terms of crowd management and media management. Last year, we implemented the photographers’ bridge which gives us better control over the media at the finish line. So, every year we have to make sure to repeat such things,” Jones told MiD DAY yesterday.

“We’ve had a very steep learning curve in the first few years. After the first race (back in 2004), I remember feeling a bit disappointed as I was looking at things that didn’t go right. But the first edition came off sufficiently well. And the next year, the race was 50 percent better because we learnt so much in the first year.

“In the first year, everything was new. I mean the concept of marathon running in the first year was new to everybody in India. It took a few years to get things right,” added Jones. 

The retired British long distance runner also remembers his anxiety at the 2009 edition immediately after the 26/11 terrorist attacks in the city. “I was apprehensive after the 26/11 attacks as our race was just seven weeks later and you can’t be sure what passions it could ignite. But the way people participated and the way they were all out there at the events was endearing. ” 

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