19 Feb 2017
“Right sir, yes sir, don’t worry sir, we will take care of it sir” This was six weeks before the marathon. Happy to have received such prompt and positive replies, tickets were booked and plan A was ready.
And 10 days before the event, “What?? No. It was yes then but now it is no. And I won’t even attend your calls!!” Plan A went up in thin air…. POOF.
What next…. Plan B. Raipur marathon was nowhere on the net. The running calendar showed that 12 Feb Raipur event was cancelled. Somehow I came to know that there was another HM event being conducted by the state govt in Raipur on 19 Feb. It suited me well. However, state govt representative handling the phone calls was clueless about marathons. As I tried to explain my plan, the only thing he concentrated was “CM saab will come at anytime in the morning after 6.30 am and the race will be flagged off.” I wasn’t confident with such an arrangement and was working out on various other options.
In the meantime, through some via via media, I got through to Vinay Tiwary from Raipur and he was my GSM (for those who are not familiar with GSM, see my God Sent Messenger post)
A couple of phone calls and my complete plan was ready. Dr Vinay Tiwary, a pathologist by profession, is the head of ‘Let’s Run’ group in Raipur. He had himself conducted a few half marathons before and knew my requirement. To start with, he committed to run the first 21kms before the HM event himself with me. He activated his group members for supporting my run. Simultaneously, being a localite, he registered me for the 21km Raipur marathon event too, which was to be flagged off at 0630h.
I reached Raipur on 11 Feb and we made a quick plan for the first 21km. We would start from the Raipur City at 0415h and complete 21kms in 2h 15 mins and reach the stadium, where the event was to start. In case the event gets postponed, because of non-arrival of VIPs on time, we had planned to continue with the run to maintain continuity. Dr Vinay even decided to do a full marathon along with me.
Race day 12 Feb, sharp at 4.00 Am we were at the designated meeting point. We were three runners for the first leg and we sailed through comfortably in the first 21kms reaching the start point of the event by 6.30 am. As we were nearing the Start point we could see the chopper with the CM landing near the stadium. Other than the CM, Mr Milkha Singh, Ms Geeta Phogat and Mr Praveen Kumar were the guests. We joined the crowd and in 10-12 minutes time our event began.
The sun was already up. Chattisgarh was in full strength. The route was simple, a straight flat road with only one left turn for 10.5km and back. The newly constructed roads of Naya Raipur were very wide. Unfortunately, there was not a single fully grown tree enroute. The trees have been recently planted and would take 4-5 years more to give proper shade as required on a sunny morning. The route was well stocked with water and bananas in a few places. There was not a single garbage bin, hence the entire route got littered with banana peels and water packets.
Despite the heat and scorching sun, I was able to comfortably finish in 5:20. A very positive point was the raw talent available in such places. Young boys and girls from nearby villages participated in the HM event bare feet and ran well. Runners of Let’s Run group also completed the route strongly.
For a first time event by the Govt, it was relatively well conducted. With more professional help from Marathon runners, this event will stand out well ahead in years to come. Icing to the cake, I got an opportunity to address the Let’s Run group and share some tips with the runners. Thanks to all members of the group and specifically Dr Vinay Tiwary.
So that’s for Raipur……..
Col Sundaresan Ren