Yesterday was the 3rd edition of the New Delhi Marathon – or, to give it its full moniker, the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon.
I’ve run all 3 editions of this race, and have seen its evolution, so can speak with a certain amount of authority.
For anyone interested, here’s the review I wrote of the 2016 race and the review I wrote of 2017.
So, here goes. My balance sheet for 2018.
Although I’m not all that experienced as a runner, to my way of thinking, participants in a race for which they have paid, and especially for long distances like a half and a full marathon, do require certain non-negotiable things. To wit:
1.A safe, well-lit route.
The rest – the T shirt, the breakfast, the roadside entertainment – are of far less importance. Well, to me they are.
1.A safe, well-lit route.
The start time of the full marathon was changed at the last minute from 5am to 4.30am. No idea why, but it wasn’t a biggie as far as I was concerned, & actually gave us more time on empty roads before the half marathon started.
BUT, there were stretches of the route which were in darkness.
As in street lights not working. True, they were still not working at 5am, so the start time change really made no difference.
I’m not sure one can take race organisers to task for poor civic infrastructure, but I felt very apprehensive about tripping and falling along stretches of Lodhi Road, and one runner in front of me did indeed take a tumble in the first 2km.
What else constitutes a safe route?
Absence of traffic, that’s what, and this is my single biggest complaint about yesterday’s race. The traffic was a nightmare at India Gate, and I was stopped twice while cops let cars go past.
Once again, like the street lighting issue, I’m not sure where the balance of power/blame/responsibility exactly lies.
Is it the decision of the traffic police to stop the traffic for accredited races? Do the race organisers have any say in the matter? I don’t remember any issues with ADHM (the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon) so what went wrong yesterday?
I am only an amateur runner, but even I got irritated by being held up while noisy, irritable, honking cars swept past, but imagine what it must’ve been like for the elites, competing for serious money and for rankings that affect their careers?
So, on the first score – a safe, well-lit route…sorry, not good.
Not good at all.
I had no problems whatsoever on the route but oh my God, was I stressed before we started. There was NO water in the holding area. A few already-empty dispensers, and that was that.
So, for half an hour, I fretted and worried about water.
Memories of the lack of water in the inaugural edition came back to haunt me, and it was only at the first water station that I calmed down.
After that, I had no problems though I heard from friends in my running group that there was no water in the stadium after the event, nor in the latter stages of the race.
The loo I used in the holding area at 4am, before the race, was disgusting. Absolutely revolting. And the flush didn’t work.
I used the first loo & the second loo on the route, on the basis that they should still be Ok. Both were absolutely disgusting. Stomach-churningly disgusting. And no water.
I was a full marathoner, so the only people ahead of me were fellow runners, and we weren’t that numerous, so God knows how many people had managed to use them before I did. Or were they delivered like this?
I won’t belabour the point. You don’t need to be further disgusted.
I truly pity the thousands of people who followed us.
I have no complaints whatsoever.
Adequate signs, plus I’d studied the route, which I actually know very well by now, since it was 99% the same as ADHM. There was one little loop added on, but it was clearly signed.
So I’m not quite sure what went wrong for this poor runner:
I needed Volini spray twice, as I was cramping badly, and was administered it quickly and cheerfully by the youngsters at the aid stations.
So absolutely no complaints from me, BUT – remember I said a runner had fallen in the early stages of the race on Lodhi Road? He was part of a group I caught up with – didn’t know any of them – all middle-aged blokes. I was running alongside the group when a man ran up quickly, joined them & settled down to our pace.
“Talk about a bloody First Aid van.” (and I quote) “All they have is Volini and some band aids. No Dettol. No disinfectant.”
Last year I had remarked on the crowds of runners on the route, selfie-ing away and blocking the HM-ers and FM-ers. I didn’t experience this yesterday, thank goodness, but oh my giddy aunt – the finish line. You rocket over the last timing mat, and go smack into runners hanging round waiting for their mates, I imagine.
The area needs to be kept clear. You can’t screech to a halt – well, I can’t. So I know I cannoned into people. In Mumbai, when you cross the finish line, there are barriers that funnel you straight away from the finish line, so you don’t get in the way of the runners behind you.
This was most definitely needed yesterday.
I couldn’t find where the breakfast was, so I left without eating. I know you’re supposed to eat after a race, especially after running 42.2km, but I couldn’t see any signs for the food area, so gave up.
Let me end with one final anecdote, which I reported in an email to the race director this morning.
My husband was standing on the roadside, very close to the final turn into the stadium (for Delhi-walas, he was between the overbridge and the road that crosses the main road) when the metal barrier fell down on top of him, knocking him to the ground. He has a lump on his head and is feeling very stiff and ache-y today. Phone screen damaged. Apparently another barrier across the road (so just before we turned left back toward the finish line) also fell down a few seconds later.
As with the street lighting and the traffic management, I feel churlish laying the blame for this at the feet of the race organisers.
Who erects those metal fences? The police? The traffic police? My husband wasn’t seriously hurt. But he could’ve been.
This all sounds a bit crabby, doesn’t it, and possibly gives the impression that I had a bad race.
I had a brilliant race.
But that doesn’t blind me to the fact that there were lapses.
I welcome your feedback, I truly do. Tell me if you think I’m being overly critical.
But I don’t think so.