Despite repeated protests for two consecutive years, Procam does not seem to have learned anything. They continue to pander to the tunes of TV broadcasters and commercial interests (read sponsors), at the cost of passionate runners & the marathon itself. Just having some paid elite athletes is not going to take the Mumbai marathon too far, you need to build a running culture to seed the industry. They are again starting the full marathon at 7.40am instead of 6.30am, as its not bright enough to to do live TV broadcast. So you actually have the half marathon before the full one, which is nonsensical especially given the humidity and temperatures in Bombay.
The Singapore marathon starts way before sunrise, which makes the marathon so much better and easier. Quote from the Singapore marathon official website - "the flag off for the Full Marathon will be at 5.30am. Organisers said this was in response to feedback from runners that an earlier start will help them cope better with the heat and humidity". Both the marathons have the same sponsor, but the organisers are different.
The Athens marathon has an early start for slow runners. Why can't Bombay learn from such international marathons. Also, the organisers need to actually run and participate in marathons across the world. If that is too much, can they set up an advisory panel of reputed Mumbai runners, who can help them implement suggestions with help from runners without compromising commercial interests.
Mainstream media thankfully has been bold enough to highlight the fact that the number of participants in the full marathon is half of what it was in 2007 (isn't that really alarming?? We have only 1350 full marathon runners this year. What do we need for the organisers to sit up and take notice? A boycott of the marathon by Mumbai based runners??). And the only reason this got highlighted was the fact that finally we have some competition (both in TV and mainstream newspaper space) in media. I had highlighted this fact last year as well, that the number of full marathon participants in 2007 was lower than 2006, but could not support that with credible numbers.
I finally have my race bib with me, its 1196 and am waiting for Sunday morning. I happened to meet some of my fellow runners from GTM (Great Tibetan Marathon) for lunch today and hope to catch up with many more tomorrow morning.