My feedback on the first ever New Delhi full marathon

What’s that saying, “A week is a long time in politics?”

Well, to be honest, it’s also a longtime in anyone’s life, especially mine it would seem.  One moment it was the day after the inaugural New Delhi Marathon and I was poised to write a post about the event.

The next moment, it’s over a week already, and my friend Sanjeev guest-posted a brilliant assessment of the event which engendered a lot of healthy debate.  So yes, actually. What is left for me to add?

Well, I had said I’d give feedback about the first ever New Delhi Marathon, and so I shall.  Stick to my word ‘n all that.

Water

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Like most other people whose feedback I’ve read, I was deeply stressed about the water situation, a concern which I did share with you in a post last week. However green one aspires to be, certain things cannot be avoided. Runners need water and they need small amounts at regular intervals, not a plastic (please note) cup every not so often.

Had the cups been paper, I might have felt it was indeed a little more green, but to use plastic and (one imagines) quite a lot of water to rinse and re-rinse these cups…well…not so sure of the resulting greenness or otherwise.

I am as green and eco-warrior-esque as they come (have any of you ever met me berating people for chucking rubbish in the street?) but sometimes Needs Must.

So if you really want to dispense with water bottles and the admittedly horrid littering, then you need water stations every kilometre.  That is non-negotiable.

So, yes, water was definitely an issue. Once I’d got my hands on a bottle along Rajpath I was fine.  I told you, didn’t I, that I am still not 100% sure that I actually demanded a bottle from a race marshal…I have this lingering doubt that some polite young man, out for an early morning stroll, meekly handed over his water bottle to a peremptory old lady as she ran past.

There was water at the stations in those big dispensers, so I stopped and filled up when necessary.

That was, basically, the only way to go, and having learned my lesson this time, unless it’s a SCMM or an ADHM with masses of water stations, I’ll always carry my own bottle. As I did on Sunday in the Women’s Day 10k in Gurgaon.

Volini

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Having never yet had a cramp during a race, it obviously had to happen during the NDM.  Since there was an aid station just a wee bit ahead of me when the calf cramps struck, I hobbled over and asked if they had Volini.

“No”, said the rather peremptory young woman sitting behind the table, in the shade of a tent. “Volini is all finished.”

So I hobbled off.

For Pete’s sake, how difficult is it to have enough Volini sprays?

I know this was the first edition, I know, I know, and I also know that comparisons are odious, but when I ran my first full in Mumbai in January, you could smell the Volini stations before you got there.  Clouds of that nice distinctive smell in the air, crowds of smiling enthusiastic youngsters fanned out along the road (in way hotter temperatures than NGM, let me add) offering to spray you as you ran past.  I remember at one Volini station in Mumbai the young lady yelled cheerfully as I declined the spray, “Way to go! Run run run!”

Marshaling

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Hmm…it seems wrong to carp when some marshals were fab, but basically, the further along the route you got, the scantier the marshaling became, and since that was also true of the road signage, there were 4 occasions when I really didn’t know where to go.

No marshals, no signs.

The first time I asked a cop who kindly pointed me in the right direction.

The second time I asked a cop who kindly pointed me etc etc.

The third time I followed a runner, who then stopped and asked me if I knew where to go. But then I asked a cop who kindly pointed me etc etc.

The 4th time, I’m sorry to admit that I shouted at the marshal who was busy on his phone.

The stretch along Mandir Marg was horrid –  very little marshaling, traffic free-for-all, wending one’s way through the noisy traffic.  Not nice, and pretty soul-destroying.

The early kilometres of the race were great – marshals, signs, enthusiastic water stations (special mention here to the exuberant folks manning the 9km station, who cheered and screamed and shouted and ran alongside me for a few paces, cheering as they did so) but as the day got hotter, and (it seemed) the further we got from Lutyens Delhi, the marshaling was thinner on the ground.  To be fair, they always clapped as I ran past, but there were certain stretches when a little more noise and a lot more water would’ve been great.  As the route headed back towards Lutyens Delhi, so the marshalling got better and more frequent – doubtless because of the HM-ers.

But truly, the kids out there in the hot sun, doling out cups of water or pointing the way for hours on end, all deserve our thanks.  It must be a thankless task.  The cops were all great, without exception, clapping and “well done madam”-ing as I trotted past.

Balance sheet?

Overall, I enjoyed the race, I truly did.

But no – I didn’t really enjoy the long, soulless slog alongside Buddh Jayanti Park, but at least the traffic was thin on the ground.  As I mentioned earlier, Mandir Marg was horrid.

If the route stays the same next year, then I hope there’s better traffic control on the busy stretches.

I didn’t have the breakfast, which most people said was delicious, so I really can’t say either way.  I’d much rather have had a banana, to be honest.

But well done to the organisers.  Thank you for giving us our full marathon.

And here’s to next year.

3 Comments

  • I didn’t find the breakfast delicious. Boiled egg aside the breakfast wasn’t great. And the plates looked rather dusty too. I’m not a fan of water/Gatorade being served in glasses. I’d rather have tetra packs of Enerzal like they did in ADHM – pick one up and keep running without really breaking your stride. Must have been a bit scary to not know which way to go. That is my marathon nightmare. 🙁

  • I never thought I’d say this, but if the route stays the same next year I will still run, with just a few changes:
    1. Lowered expectations: for all practical purposes treat it as your Sunday Run
    2. Carry your own water, Sanjeev: it’s as important as your inhaler! If you’ve sprained your wrist then wear the trail belt.
    3. Memorize the route, or carry a paper which you can read without your glasses
    4. Safety first: to hell with the mats. Just run what appears safer: on the pavement or on the wrong side of the road
    5. Stop and pray: we had at least 3 significant places of worship that I remember. Maybe I ignored the Gods and invited their wrath?
    6. FORGET TIMINGS: Do not even dream of getting your PB on a non Pro-cam run. Speed thrills but kills. Run for endurance. Take in the environs. And back slap with your fellow runners.Help the ones who need Volini. Carry your phone. Be a Marshall’s Marshal and call up the organizer dudes.

  • I never thought I’d say this, but if the route stays the same next year I will still run, with just a few changes:
    1. Lowered expectations: for all practical purposes treat it as your Sunday Run
    2. Carry your own water, Sanjeev: it’s as important as your inhaler! If you’ve sprained your wrist then wear the trail belt.
    3. Memorize the route, or carry a paper which you can read without your glasses
    4. Safety first: to hell with the mats. Just run what appears safer: on the pavement or on the wrong side of the road
    5. Stop and pray: we had at least 3 significant places of worship that I remember. Maybe I ignored the Gods and invited their wrath?
    6. FORGET TIMINGS: Do not even dream of getting your PB on a non Pro-cam run. Speed thrills but kills. Run for endurance. Take in the environs. And back slap with your fellow runners.Help the ones who need Volini. Carry your phone. Be a Marshall’s Marshal and call up the organizer dudes.

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