So, on a day when most of us rested up and shared photos from yesterday’s half marathon on Facebook, one of my running mates put up a very nice thoughtful post.
Saswato Mitra, whom I met briefly in the pre-race mêlée yesterday, wrote and I quote:

“I was digging up some stats on marathon running. In the US it is 0.5% of the population which runs marathon.

Assuming the same holds for India, we all runners who have successfully completed ADHM are 0.5% of the indian population.

So do not get upset it you have not been able to meet your expected time. The very fact you completed in commendable. Give yourself a pat, eat well and enjoy life basking in the glory that you are indeed top 0.5% of the population and if you are doing it in 50 years plus category.. Then Hats OFF !! :) “

(And to give the dear man credit, he didn’t put in that bit about being over 50 years old on purpose!  He wrote the post long before I asked him if I could quote him.)

Now I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the statistics, nor the figures for half vs full.  I did google it, but didn’t find a definite answer.  I suspect Saswato’s stats vastly overstate the percentage of HM-ers, but never mind, let’s take his statement as a valid starting point.

The fact of the matter is –  a very, very, very small percentage of the population has run a full marathon or a half marathon, and as Saswato says, we can all take pride in our achievements.

I thought more about this as our running group whatsapped each other, with several of the brilliant women who had just run their first ever half marathon quasi apologising for slow timings.

As I headed out of the stadium on Sunday after the race, I met one of the youngest members of our group, who was feeling disappointed by her timing.

2:13 and feeling underwhelmed, Sonam??

I was disappointed by my own timing, I won’t deny it, and tried to comfort myself by working out that if I hadn’t had 2 loo stops then I would’ve been…might’ve been…could’ve been…


We have all just run 21.097km.  In the case of our running group, we all only started running 2 years ago.

And we are disappointed?

Jeez, what is wrong with us?

We should be shouting from the roof tops, that in a city like Delhi (population “about” 16.3 million according to Wikipedia) there were only 927 women who finished the half marathon.

Hey!  There were only 7983 finishers overall.

So could the 7 of us from our little running group who ran the half, kindly stop downplaying our achievements?

We are 7/927 amazing women. 7/7983 amazing finishers.

GIrls, you are all fan-bloody-tastic (as we say in my native place 😎)


21.097 exhausting kilometres.

Which is w-a-y more than “about” 16.3 million minus 7983 people in Delhi can say.

So, yes, by all means we can all dream of running faster the next time round, but there is nothing wrong, methinks, in sitting back, savouring the moment, and saying “Yes, you know what, I am x% of the population who has run a half marathon…”

(And if someone could please give me that accurate missing statistic of how many people have run a half, it would make my final sentence way more effective 😜)


  1. Thank you Christine! It’s tough not to be disappointed thinking if I hadn’t been down with fever 3 days before the race (which is if I hadn’t had that cold drink and that throat troubling food despite being unwell) and if I had started slower … I wouldn’t have felt like quitting the race after 14-15 km! But then, as a good friend told me “Never let your passion turn into obsession” one moves on thinking, well, atleast I did better than last year! :-D Will make coach proud some other time maybe! Proud to be one of the 927 women finishers.

    Nicely done post! looking forward to the statistics :-)

  2. Can not agree more with you Christine, “I Am Proud” of finishing my run (which i had all my doubts). No i won’t say any other thing which hampered my timing, in my case it was indication that i need more training (no it is not lack of training, there is difference) . And i did’t get timing certificate because my finish time was way beyond 3 hours, that is ok… what do i expect from my body in 2 years which was in lethal shape even to finish 20 meters and could finish 21K? Training is process and there is no shortcut to it, just no short cut. Infact next year will be more special to me now… i will be testing myself how much time will i cut down next year doing my another half in ADHM. ya.. :)

  3. What a great post Christine, I AM PROUD to have completed 21k for sure. Last couple of kms were killers, dont know how I managed to get it over with. When one is part of the last finishers one can see how unimportant we are, which is sad, for while we were still at it some of the water stations were getting packed up and closed down, made one panic that there wont be any water available any more… but thankfully there were a couple later on. Would definitely like to do a non-stop 21k in future and enjoy the preferential treatment. :D

    1. Suparna Deb, today i met doc Rajat Chauhan today, and trust me i said same thing to him, we were actually so unwanted kinds at the event, i think we needed oranges and salt more becoz it was more than three hours we had been on our legs, even during registration i clearly mentioned that we will complete 21 k in more than 3 hours, they should have atleast saved some stock for last batch too. now we need to train ourselves in starving mode too…. I requested him if he could take up this issue in coming forums and gracefully he nodded yes.

    2. Suparna, your post and your comment just now made me feel very sad and a little emotional. It’s unbelievable that they just pack up and go while people are still running. “It seems like people who take more time are not serious runners…” speaks volumes about priorities. I think we have the basis here for a blog post and a discussion. May i quote you ?

    3. Suparna Deb even photographers kept on sitting on the pavement as if who are running post 3 hours are criminals and should not be clicked…. ok if they say they had been tired clicking since morning, than ADHM should have separate photographers for slow runners…. can you imagine.. a person runs slow almost for 3 hours and does not get even single click… ADHM should question their paid photographers. I really feel sad for runners who did not get even single pic and who are just not in habit of clicking selfie :(

    4. Suparna Deb so generous of you to say that, but i don’t buy that because their were multiple photographers spread whole 21k route plan, we ran almost without crowd in last 6 K my dear… we met crowd only near finish line… where all 6 k and other charity runners were running together.

  4. Well…. Running a marathon is a tester to self of how one is mentally strong and can carry on with the inner voice saying :- * I can do it – I will do it – I must do it * .. If one goes by the word of determination – search our of Dr Asish Roy ….and as one reads the lines of his journey on marathons … One would be left speech less and left with a dry mouth…..i had the privilege of running the marathon with him for the second year on a trot…its not the timing I went for .. Every step I ran with him added energy – determination – courage – passion – into me … A request to go the the site of michelle kakade .. Who is doing the great quadrilateral run ..6100 kms in some 180 odd days … Had the privilege to spend some 30 mins with her …and she is the nightingale of running ……lets do some work out of making this family of running bigger … Which I have dug deep into ….lets connect ..@9929037093 – Sunil baxi

    sunil baxi
  5. So true!
    I was devastated after my last ADHM results!!And a few sarcastic voices made me feel worse!!!
    But have I learnt ? That only 0.5 % run and I’m one of them. That I should be happy?
    Don’t know !!
    Try as we might, if we have been training well and not achieving what we desire , it hurts.

    1. Mona, didn’t mean to be nosey – just the idea of ppl being sarcastic about someone else’s HM pace…I’ve had my fair share of catty comments, too, invariaibly from non-runners & it always astonishes me how thoughtless ppl can be. Double hug next time we meet!

  6. Bang on ….Can’t agree more Christine…. But we definitely need to learn … “How to applaud Our achievements”….. & not to crib …. Am not saying I don’t …. But what I mean is “we shouldn’t”…. It really needs immense grit to be finishing race … Whatever distance it is …. Guess what makes me a winner is that I had the guts to start …. Results shall follow… “Abhi nahin toh next time sahi”….. Be happy about what you hv done …. !!

  7. So agree with this. Around 2012 there was this huge pressure on doing a ‘sub 2’. Sub 2- where did that come from? We always measure our runs at minutes per km. So the benchmark should have been 2:06 (pace of 6), etc. So my last 2 runs of 2:07 and 2:04 and the epithet of ‘Barefoot Ferrari were a mistaken high, and it was back to the drawing board. The I finally did cross that horrid man made barrier I hung up my imaginary racing boots and decided to run only as a pacer.
    A century in cricket, a hat trick in football and that proverbial Olympic medal give more stress and hardship than being an encouragement to work harder.

    Sanjeev Chhabra

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