“Why I’m not running the Delhi half marathon”

Today, Tuesday, the week of the biggest running event in Delhi’s calendar, the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, and I’m still conflicted.

Of course I want to run this flagship event.

Hell’s bells, this is what we have been working towards, all through the long, brutal summer.

But, like so many of my felllow runners, I’m worried about the pollution which, though decreasing a little, is still in the hazardous zone.

One of the most dazzling runners on the Delhi NCR circuit is the tall, leggy, elegant Reeti Sahai.  Whip smart, passionate, bubbly, Reeti is a young woman who lives to run and runs to live.

She’s also damn fast and a regular podium winner.

But Reeti is not running ADHM.

She tells us why here.

And since this comes from such a fit, experienced young woman, I take her counsel very seriously.

Reeti, in her own words:

”I’ve trained pretty hard for the upcoming Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.  Alarms at unearthly hours. Discipline everywhere – food, sleep, what to eat and drink, stretches, massages, you name it.

But I have missed my training for a week now.

I’ve just not been able to run outdoors.

I ended up buying a Vogmask and tried running with it, but couldn’t run beyond 200 metres.

The AQI index is still at an all time high.

The smog is unbearable.  My eyes are watering, throat itching and I feel drained of energy.

Its a horrible feeling.

To have to live in these conditions and not be able to do what I love doing – run!

Im feeling miserable.

And nothing seems too be happening to the pollution levels either.  No actions seem to be taken.  The ministers are missing in action.  Passing the buck.  No accountability.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

And yes, I’ve been running for a few years now – and it’s only getting worse at this time of the year.

I have consciously ignored it all this while.

However, I do realise I’m harming my health in the long run.  And therefore, I’m choosing not to run in these conditions.

The last I can do for myself.

I choose long term gains vs short term.

It’s absolutely crazy to be breathing heavily in the current situation.

It’s a state of chemical warfare not just air pollution.

And yes, the choice is personal.

Runners, friends, people, please make an informed choice for yourself.

There are many races.  They come and go.  Your lungs wont!

Were old enough to make wise choices for ourselves.

Good luck and healthy living, people!”

A powerful statement by a strong and powerful young woman, and someone I respect & like enormously.

Pause for thought.

Reeti, IF I run (& it’s still a big “if”) I’ll miss your excited whoop when you see friends at the finish line, and your big generous bear hug.


  • Thankyou Christine – you’re amazing, to say the least. And Yes, inspite of not running the ADHM, I will be there at the finish line cheering everyone who’ll be running that day and giving a bear hug too at the finish line ! Just be safe guys. xx

  • Anshul

    Even I am also not running this year. Why can’t ADHM refund the money of participants who wish to opt out of ADHM this year due to alarming pollution levels? They should.

    • christine

      Anshul, you can ask for a refund. Check their website. My running group forwarded me the link, so if you can’t find it, I can forward it to you.

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