Mumbai runners all set to leave for the Delhi half-marathon to be held on November 19
Mumbai runners all set to leave for the half-marathon in the Capital on November 19 are breathing uneasy
Mumbai runners set to compete in Delhi's half-marathon (21 km) on Sunday are exercising some due Delhi-gence.
Minoti Gore and Sagar Kulkarni
Start line call
Runner Minoti Gore, who has registered for the half-marathon, says, "Most runners from Mumbai are monitoring the news of pollution hitting dangerous levels in the Capital very carefully. Running groups on social media are buzzing with information, there is loads of advice and exchanges between runners on whether it is advisable to go there and run."
Gore adds, "Running is a passion. It is pure joy. I am not going to cancel my Delhi trip; I will take a call closer to the date. In fact, I think I will go to Delhi anyway, and then, decide whether I want to run. I may go to the start line on Sunday morning and make up my mind then."
There has been plenty of advice from people who want to avoid Delhi, "but I am being positive," says Gore, adding that part of her faith is also "because the event is organised by the Mumbai Marathon organisers, and [hence] it will be top-notch, we will be taken care of."
A chill pill
Sai Rajmachikar from Mumbai says there is no let-up in her training for Delhi. The runner, back from running the 42-km (full) marathon in Amsterdam in October, is now getting ready to taper (cut back her mileage) for November 19.
"There is no fear, but there is plenty of chatter in running groups. The weather can change at any time. I may not have run if the marathon was today, seeing the state Delhi is in, but, who knows what will happen in a few days from now. I am hoping that the run happens; our flights and accommodation has already been booked."
Sai laughs as she says, "As it is, we do not train in the most pollution-free circumstances here too." "We are being advised by many not to go. We tell them to take a chill pill," she adds, explaining that she was "in the zone" now.
Course for cause
The marathon, as an event per se, is a gigantic moving billboard. It has been used by activists to push causes and reinforce messages, through runners and spectators holding banners, drawing attention to a certain cause.
Filmmaker Suvahhdan Angre from Pune, who has participated in the Pune and Mumbai marathons, says, "Runners must try and participate in Delhi, turn the half-marathon into a cause for raising awareness about pollution and what we, as laypersons, can do to curb it. Banners and posters along the route will be one way, the event itself can be an avenue to send this message."
The mantra is 'ab Dilli duuur nahin' for runner Sagar Kulkarni. "I am going to Delhi to run. If things get worse on the day itself, we will see, maybe I won't run then. Right now though, a group of runners, including me, with flights and hotel booked, is going to be there. The half-marathon has a 7 am start, which is a good time, not too early. I think we will be able to run, certainly training for the day; if not, then maybe make a weekend of it in Delhi anyway," he signs off with a laugh.
Dr Nilesh Gautam, senior interventional cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai, says, "It does not augur well if runners participate in the Delhi half-marathon. I think they should not travel if the smog does not clear. The high pollution means there is a lack of oxygen and toxic chemicals in the air. You will be consuming toxic material in the air, because if you are on the road for two to three hours, this is chronic exposure. This is going by the situation as of now."
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