Last Sunday, I successfully completed the Delhi Half Marathon! Anyone who is acquainted with me knows very well that I am not an athlete even by the most lenient standards. It was only natural that this news came as a big surprise to all my friends- even I was shocked to the core when I crossed the finish line!
The race track was 21.097 kilometre long and I took 3h20m to finish the marathon (the maximum time allowed was 3 hours). It began at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, went on to a little further than Central Secretariat via India Gate and then returned to the starting point. The race was supposed to start at 7:10am, I reached the starting point at 7:20am and that’s when I first erred. I missed out both on seeing Shah Rukh Khan and Bipasha Basu kick off the race and on seeing the entire participating crowd of more than 30k people (I later read in the papers that this crowd included the likes of Rahul Bose, Gul Panag, Anil Ambani and Siddhartha Mallya!). Moreover, we were given timing chips which were to be fastened to our shoes. Since I reached the venue late, I didn’t get time to tie the chip (I had it in my pocket all the time) and that is how I erred for the second time- it was only in the evening that I found out that the chips are not so sensitive as to get detected from such height as that of your pocket. None of my race day times- split or net-were noted.
In spite of all this, I loved every part of running the half marathon. The winter morning was cold and foggy as expected, but then again, the excitement level of the crowd, which included people of all age groups, was incredible. During the run, I found many volunteers, random participants and even some policemen who were in charge of security encouraging me to go on! There were a few rock bands performing along the track- one or two of them actually sounded good. At one point at India Gate, I was walking past a band and at that very moment, it began singing ‘Bhag bhag DK Bose’- I kept walking for a few seconds trying to ignore them, but then I imagined that those lines were being directed at me- I started running again! Many participants were also using this event to promote their causes- I saw three or four NGO groups, supporters of Sant Asaram, participants advertising Airtel and GE, etc.
As to how a non-athlete like me could run 21kms- well, the trick is to keep moving (without stopping for even a moment) until you reach the destination. I managed to run/walk continuously by the time I completed 15 or 16kms- my legs had begun aching even by the time I had completed 1km, but I could always motivate myself to go just a little further. After that the real pain kicked in- I was then merely plodding along (with a few half-hearted sprints in between) trying only to at least complete the race. I was so exultant when I reached the finish line that I thought it was all worth it.
So in the end, I participated in the half marathon to earn a timing certificate which I won’t get; what I got, instead, was a new found self-confidence and self-respect. I never imagined myself running 21kms at a stretch, but now I believe that there are many other things which I think I am incapable of doing but have it in me to accomplish. Maybe this is why ordinary people are allowed to run marathons- to remind them of unhidden talents in them!