And so, after many early mornings spent pounding the streets of Delhi, today I ran the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in a good time (clipped 4 minutes from my previous HM).
A fabulously well organised event. Not as crowded as I had feared – I reckon we were hundreds in each starting group, rather than the threatened thousands. Great weather. Not too much of Delhi’s infamous winter pollution. Wasn’t even as cold as we had all feared when we assembled at 6.15-ish. Quite a lot of good folk out cheering, which was lovely.
All pretty amazing, actually.
I won’t bore you with the technical stuff (though I only have my own GPS time for now, since the official timings and splits are not yet out**) but will rather share with you the few photos I took with my mobile.
Walking to the venue before sun up.
A Japanese running group warming up, in a very organised manner.
Checking my starting time (Zone C)
2 of the beautiful young women with whom I run – Kathakoli and Samiksha.
And the group “Auntieji” (c’est moi) with Katha – we were in the same starting group and ran together as we set off.
Note to self. Choose nicer location next time, rathe than outside the portaloos…
We were barely 4 km into our race when the élite men (Africans to a man) came rushing by in a tight knit phalanx of speed and focus. They were, of course, heading back to the finish line, when we had 17km more to go…
A good 10 minutes later, the élite women passed us, and I managed a quick video (yes, probably cost me time, but I speed-walked while I took it, hence the wobbliness)
Once we crossed the finish line, we collected our medal and bag of snacks (I gave my food to a grubby tiny girl sitting on the pavement).
To get back to the car, I had to cross the overbridge and before a cop stopped me filming any more, this was my view from up top – half-marathoners on the right and the 6km Great Delhi Run setting out on the left. That was where this journey began, last year, with my running group and our run. And today, we did a half marathon.
I met all my running girls, although some of them only briefly – Sonam, Katha and Samiksha. We spotted Anita just as she was entering her start zone, and I ran past Shweta on Raj Path. All present and correct.
I met Chetan Mahajan and his wife twice (they ran a seriously fast race). Many people greeted me by name, because our new running group T shirts have our name on the back. And how kind and friendly people were. Every time I slowed down, someone would ask if I were OK, a level of concern that you otherwise never experience in Delhi.
I saw Rahul Bose, the actor, running, close to Jantar Mantar.
What else did I spy as I huffed and puffed through Lutyens Delhi this morning?
A man with only one leg and a prosthetic limb running, carrying a rather large Indian flag. Way faster than me. Now that was very humbling.
A man with only one arm running.
A very old man (even by my ancient standards) running hand in hand with a rather buff man in a lycra body suit.
I was overtaken by an elderly man wearing a kurta pajama and those plastic shoes that yer average Haryana villager wears.
All in all a brilliant morning.
Pity about the wretched orange*** which cost me a faster time, I know for sure.
***I stupidly took a slice of orange with salt as I ran past one of the stations, when I was feeling a bit jaded. 2 segments of orange was all it took for me to feel nauseous.
WHY do I do this to myself?
I have been through this on Kilimanjaro (Gatorade), on Kangyatse earlier this year (mango juice), on my first half marathon last month (Gatorade)…and yet I took the salty orange…
** While writing this, the official results went up online and my time was indeed 2:11 so am very happy.