The best part about running as a recreational sport is that it is inclusive. That probably explains its popularity the world over. Anybody can run, it’s that simple. And the more runners I meet, I realise how therapeutic it is and how it forces you to take note of yourself. For me, it was as if I connected with myself for the first time when I started running. Even pregnancy had failed to do that for me. However, nowadays it also comes with a lot of noise and commotion. There is pressure of what races are you signing up for, your finish time, how much you are running in a week etc. It feels good initially as a new runner but slowly the pressure builds up. Of course, it’s great if you want to improve continuously and important to strength train to remain injury free but it’s not ok to constantly compare yourself with others. Continue Reading
Boston Marathon is considered the Holy Grail of marathon running. And there is much to its fascinating history. But what struck me the most is the story of a woman who changed running forever (I actually had tears in my eyes). Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to run Boston Marathon 50 years back and unofficially so as women were not allowed to compete in distances more than 800 meters. Why? Because it was believed that they were not physiologically capable of running a long distance such as 42.2km. To begin with Bobbi Gibb wanted to participate in the marathon because of her love for running. She started training for it and underwent a spiritual journey. However, when her application got rejected, she took it upon herself to make a statement about what women were capable of achieving. But the question was how? How can she prove when she wasn’t allowed to participate? She decided to race unofficially without a bib. She hid behind a bush close to the start line, let half the men start running, and joined them wearing a big hoodie and her brother’s shorts so that she could disguise herself all the time scared that she might be arrested. The men running by her side realised it’s a woman and assured her that they won’t let anyone stop her from completing the run. It gave her the confidence to throw the heavy hoodie away and run freely. Word got around and the crowd frenetically cheered for her. She ran conservatively (alright if 3:21 for a full marathon can be considered that!!!) as her idea was to prove that a woman can run this distance and run it well, if she trains enough. She knew that she couldn’t afford to collapse or stop as that would only reinforce the prejudices and set women’s running back another 20 years. She was greeted with much aplomb at the finish line. She managed to change the way men think about women and the way women thought about themselves. She ran unofficially again in 1968 and 1969. Boston Marathon officially started allowing women to participate in 1972.
She will be the Grand Marshal for the 2016 Boston Marathon on Monday. I’m definitely going to pick up her book Wind In The Fire: A Personal Journey soon. She started a running movement and as runners we owe a lot to her. (check the short video below to see how gracefully she has aged).
I have always looked forward to running Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. I used to think its energy and vibe is one the best that such events can offer – until I ran SCMM for the first this year. In Mumbai, a city where I was told people are indifferent and “no-nonsense”, I was pleasantly met with folks in huge numbers, who had no reason for being there, come out and enthusiastically cheer for total strangers. It was heart-warming to say the least. In fact the overall experience of the event was so good that I didn’t feel the need to put on my head phones even once. Here is why I think every Delhi runner actually all runners should run SCMM atleast once –
1) You get to run 5.6 km on the scenic Bandra-Worli sea link.
2) Only in Mumbai would crowds at the 5th km mark shout out “only 37Km to go”. Only 37? Yeah, right! But love them for saying it.
3) For the two cool zones in the last 5 km stretch at 30 degrees with harsh sun shining down on you.
4) People of all ages offering food – dates, oranges, watermelon, biscuits, chocolates – and even ice; and cheering you during the entire stretch of 42km!
5) You get to distract yourself at the Peddar road incline by talking about the ugliness of Antilia with a fellow runner. And once again on your way back if you are running the full!
6) You will find kids most enthusiastic about giving high fives as you cross Mahim. And if you miss one of them and they shout – “Arre! Miss kar diya Aunty!!”
7) You get a glimpse of Siddhivinayak Temple, Haji Ali, Chowpati, Queen’s Necklace – all in one run. (And twice if you running the full!)
8) People hold up funny placards to keep you going…my favourite being – “Run fast! I just farted!”
9) Post the run, you get a chance to bring the roof down at excellent hangouts like Café Leopold and Café Mondegar.
10) Women runners get a free volini massage and stretching by Reebok instructors.