Thane Varsha Marathon: Disappointed women gatecrash their way into 21-km marathon

Sep 07, 2018, 07:14 IST | Anamika Gharat

Accepting this as a fault of the civic management committee, the Thane Mayor has assured that the 21-km category will be made open to women next year

Thane Varsha Marathon: Disappointed women gatecrash their way into 21-km marathon
(From left to right) Manisha Rukhana, Shweta Samota and Vandana Tandon

The 29th edition of the Thane Mayor Varsha Marathon on Sunday brought much disappointment for women participants, after they found out that they were barred from running the 21-km stretch and could only take part in the 15-km category. But there were several who were not going to take no for an answer, and ran the whole stretch anyway.

Accepting this as a fault of the civic management committee, the Thane Mayor has assured that the 21-km category will be made open to women next year. The marathon, which saw participation from over 21,000 people, had three categories - 10 km and 21 km for the men, and 15 km for the women.

On the run
When Thane resident Avanti D, 30, registered herself for the 21-km marathon, she got a message that she had registered in the male category. "I ran anyway and completed it in two and a half hours. I have been running in different marathons for the last three years," she said.

"When I started running on Sunday, some volunteers tried to guide me down a different route, saying that was the one for women, and that I was running on the men's stretch. But I was adamant and told them that I had registered for 21 km. So then they allowed me to. This marathon is quite old in Thane; we hope they change their thinking next time."

Manisha Rukhana, 38, said, "I was really disappointed... But I ran the 21-km stretch anyway and completed it. Even the men appreciated it. We hope their [organisers'] attitude towards women changes. You can't have a 29-year-old rule now, everything has changed... women are running 42 km and more." Novel writer, techie and Pinkathon Ambassador for Ghansoli, Sweta Samota, and Dombivli teacher Vandana Tandon, 45, participated in the 15-km run, but expressed their disappointment at the discrimination.

TMC sports department head Minal Palande said, "It is a 29-year-old tradition and we organised it like every year. We take necessary suggestions from the athletic association, and then, arrange the organise it accordingly."

In defence
Thane district athletic association secretary Ashok Ahire said, "TMC has a very low budget; so we have kept the 21-km marathon for the men as we see highest participation from them. Very few women want to run the whole stretch, so we can't waste prizes, as there are 10 for every category. We can't allow women in the 21-km category because if they win, we don't have prizes to give them." Mayor Minakshi Shinde said, "I don't decide anything about the marathon, TMC has a committee that looks after it.

But now that I have been told about this, I realise the rule needs to change. After all, women are powerful in every stream. I have already spoken to the sports authority, and I assure you that the 21-km marathon will be open to women from next year."

Also Read: Dog makes a 'Stormy' finish at Australia half-marathon

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