Tomorrow, parts of South Mumbai will remain off-limits for vehicles during the early part of the morning. The annual Mumbai Marathon takes off from CST at 5.40 am for amateurs, while the elite athletes begin at 7.20 am. For 10 years now, the city has been witness to some of the most extraordinary long distance running talent in the world, as the Mumbai marathon has boasted a stellar elite athletes’ field thanks to the prize money, growing stature and visibility.
Like all great marathons though, Mumbai has never been about elite runners only; more and more amateurs are getting serious about this race and moving on to 21 km (the half marathon) and 42 km (full marathon) categories. What sets apart Mumbai from other cities is the strong support from the sidelines. Cheering in droves is a prominent aspect, which gives a terrific boost to runners, as competitors will testify.
One can only urge Mumbaikars not to stay in their homes but come out and cheer for those running. It takes courage to stand on the start line of a 42-km race and those attempting that gruelling distance, will get a huge fillip if Mumbai does what it does best go out there and spur them on. Of late, the number of spectators lining the roads has been dwindling. The city needs to wake up early and get out there, especially South Mumbaikars who can walk to different points on the route.
As far as possible, people should also try to keep their vehicles off the road for six hours at least, except for emergencies. Even though the roads are open after a couple of hours, some 42-km runners are still running and are forced to run on the footpaths once traffic starts. Be a sport, and try to keep off the roads. A few hours, one day in a year is not too much to ask.