Feeling conflicted

I’ve waited a week before sitting down to write my review of last Sunday’s IDBI Federal Life New Delhi Marathon.

I’ve pretty much recovered from my marathon, I’ve even raced again – a 5k & a PB yesterday, oh joy of joys! – but all through the last week I’ve been thinking about how to phrase my feedback on the 4th edition of this race.

I’ve run every edition of this race, so I definitely feel very proprietorial about it.

It’s a marathon in my home city, so I don’t have to travel, which is a huge plus.

It’s a good, flat route, which is also a definite plus.

So, yes, I am predisposed to like this race and the fact that it is still a small-ish race is good too.

You don’t feel overwhelmed.

But the 4th edition of the New Delhi Marathon was not without its problems, and even though I count the race directors as friends, it behoves me to share my concerns.

The fact that this race comes exactly a month after the biggest race in India, the Tata Mumbai Marathon, is hardly the fault of the organisers, but realistically it is crazy close.

A full marathon start time of 4.ooam is downright ridiculous.

Our reporting time was 3.00am.

That meant (for me) getting up at 1.00am.

Talk about arriving at the start line already exhausted. Despite being in bed by 8pm, there was no way I could sleep immediately, so the net result was just a few hours sleep.

Not ideal.

Then, running in the dark for 2+ hours was not nice.

Delhi’s civic infrastructure is not the best, and despite running through some of the smartest parts of the city, street lighting was poor, and there was construction debris & the usual potholes. I wore a head torch, but even so, there were some streets entirely without any lighting.

Traffic was another problem.

Despite barriers and volunteers, there were still cars and rickshaws driving down the dark roads where we were running.

Thus far, the problems almost certainly lie outside the purview of the organisers who (sadly!) cannot get our civic infrastructure upgraded, not change the crass disregard for rules that is the hallmark of Delhi drivers.

What is entirely the responsibility of the organisers and their teams of route marshals, is crowd control.

Which was shocking for we slow runners.

I am a slow runner.

Now is not the place to discuss whether, as a slow runner, I am entitled to call myself a marathoner vis-à-vis faster runners (but for the record, I most certainly am a marathoner. I did the distance and it is NOBODY’s business how fast or slow I run.)

But for me – and the many other runners around me at the time – the last few kilometres of our first loop was a nightmare. A tidal wave of half marathoners took over the entire road, and we had to push and fight our way through the crowd.

I was very disappointed by the behaviour of my fellow runners, I must say, as they knowingly took over the half of the road meant for we full marathoners.

I wasted a lot of energy pushing and shouting at people (probably insulted a few people, too) but very few half-marathoners moved to let us through.

Where were the marshals?

Where was the dividing tape?

I had to ask marshals to help, but they should’ve known what to do, without one frustrated runner shouting at them as she ran past.

Are they not given instructions?

Fast forward to the same roads at the end of the 2nd loop.

Absolute nightmare.

The 10k and 5k runners were all over the road, and since many of the 5k runners were children, they were oblivious to any form of lane discipline.

I am not making excuses, really I’m not, but I know that the uncontrolled crowds spilling over the road cost me my sub-5.

I am ALL for people running and taking part in races. Running is brilliant, and has to be encouraged, especially amongst children.

That’s how I started, 5 years ago, as a nervous 6km fun-runner.

But I do not think you can mix a full + a half + a 10k + a 5k, all on the same route.

It is irresponsible, and does a disservice to the serious runners.

(And don’t tell me that as a 5 hour marathoner, I’m not a serious runner!).

I felt quite despondent when I saw the drummers packing up and walking away as I ran up Raj Path on my 2nd loop, and at that point, I was still on target for a 4:50 (my time last year for this same race). Since there were pacing groups up to 5;45, how on earth must those runners have felt, knowing things had packed up?

I have met other full marathoners who told me that there was no water or energy drinks left at the water/aid stations when they passed by in the later stages of the race, but I had no such problems.

I only took water, and had no problems.

Most of the water stations were great, with one of the youngsters on Raj Path being an absolute star, & telling me how well I was doing as he quickly handed me a bottle 🙂

I didn’t have the breakfast, so can’t comment.

So, in a nutshell, my feedback is that this race needs better & stricter marshalling.

It needs better crowd control.

And, I humbly request, there needs to be a different route for the 5ks and possible 10ks. 4 different distances on the same route is tough for runners.

I enjoyed my 4th New Delhi Marathon, though secretly I was disappointed at not bettering my time.

Still, there’s always next year to look forward to 🙂

Oh yes. One last thing.

The best moment of the race – other than crossing the finish line 😛 !

The start in the floodlit Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium 🙂

It was electrifying!!

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