I got to know about the Thane Varsha state (rain) half marathon on this Saturday. (Thane is almost like a suburb of Bombay, though its technically a different city). So I did everything possible to get myself enrolled for it, so that I could get myself a reality check on my mental and physical fitness (or the lack of it!!)
The organizers have some really weird rules for registration; they wanted a medical fitness certificate as well as an actual medical checkup while giving the race bib. I requested a friend of mine who was participating in the marathon, to try and see if he could get my registration done. But despite lot of attempts on Saturday, it did not go through. I still decided to give it a shot by going there about 2.5hrs before the start and after a long wait and argument/convincing, I was lucky to get my race bib half hour before the start.
This was the 17th Thane marathon and it was organised by the Thane municipality. It does not have any sponsors and a huge chunck of the participants in the half marathon (their were 10 other categories, for kids in different age groups, senior citizens...) were from the rural parts of Maharashtra (Bombay is the capital of Maharashtra state). An overwhelming majority of them were wearing shoes with barely any cushioning, and some were even barefeat, but they were extremely fit and were serious runners who had been running all their life (quite a few of them doing times of under 1.30hrs for the half marathon), no fancy 100+dollar shoes here. It was a very different atmosphere, compared to the what I was used to at the other marathons (ones with huge corporate sponsorships!!), this one was more like a festival and the organizers were simple guys (no fancy race directors, champion chips, not one digital clock…. the list goes on), but these guys have been organizing the marathon for Thane residents, for the last 17 years and they knew how to organize one mean marathon in a simple, clean, low cost manner, minus the frills.
Since this was suppose to be a rain marathon, the rain gods did not disappoint. It was drizzling for the first half and after that it was pouring. I am one of those, who loves running in the rain and even I had a tough time managing the hard almost piercing rain and strong winds. The route was very beautiful and the crowd support was amazing, much better than what I saw for the Hutch Delhi half marathon. I ran the first 8km well, but after that my lack of fitness started to show up (I have not run more than 12kms at a time for the last 3-4 months!!) I had a tough time between 9km -16km, it was a huge effort, as I started to feel mentally exhausted, and the innumerable steep inclines made things very difficult, so after 12kms I started walking the inclines and running down the slopes and on flat ground and I slowly started to get the feeling that I would endup walking post the 15km mark. But I was able to maintain this routine till the 17.5km mark and as soon as I saw the 17.5km board, something happened to me and I got into some sort of sublime rhythm (and at this time it was pouring very hard and I was barely able to see anything in front of me). I maintained this rhythm till the very end and managed to recover a lot of the lost time and finished the run at a good 2hr 11min 54sec. Considering my level of fitness, the wait before the run and the rain, I would rate it as one of my best efforts! Though, had it not rained on today, I would not have been able to run anything close to the 2.12hrs.
I would like to congratulate the Thane Municipality for the fabulous event they have been successfully conducting for their city, to help promote fitness and running among children (they had managed very good participation from local schools for the various children’s categories of 5 and 7km distances)
Its late evening now and my legs are feeling quite alright, so I guess I have got the best start for my preparation for the Singapore marathon. I need to quickly get to the level of fitness, to be able to do a half marathon every Sunday.