When I prepared for my trip to India, I asked Sid, an Indian work colleague of mine about hints for running in India. He convinced me to not plan running outdoors as it would be very hot during the day (correct: today’s temperature was just about 39°C…) and the streets are too dangerous as no one expects a person running, apart from the fact that there usually are no sidewalks existing. Therefore, for my CSC assignment, I mentally prepared myself to run on treadmills during my stay to keep a minimum of sport activity.
Last week, I learned that Jaipur runs the 4th edition of the Jaipur by nite marathon. I started to investigate more about this event. It turned out that the marathon event actually only has two distances: 10k and 5k. No mention of 42.195 k… On the other hand, such short distances are doable for many. That’s why I asked the team if someone is interested to join. Over three days, the idea increased popularity and I could sign up all of our 10 team members for the race. We planned two groups: the first group will be running together, the second will be walking. The main intent was a fun and joint experience.
Information about the race on the website was little. It said that participants are expected to be at the starting point by 9 pm. Given this schedule, we arranged an early dinner at 6 pm at our hotel.
On our way to the event location, our taxi was riding on the street that was planned for the running track. Traffic on this 3-lane street was just normal and we wondered by what time they intend to block the traffic so the street is safe enough to run.
Half an hour before the event started, we arrived at the event location. We were surprised to barely see anyone around with a start number. Not much happened at this time, which confused us very much. We found someone who looked like a representative of the event. He explained us that the start of the race is around 11 pm for the 10k, and 11:30 pm for the 5k. This was some different timing than everyone of our team expected. These timings were not published anywhere. Further checks resulted in similar times, all between 10:30 and 11:30 pm… Many of our team lost confidence into the (approximate) start time; waiting for 2,5 hours or even more was a reason some were not pleased with this situation. That’s why we decided to split up: Natasja, Mark and I decided to stay, “taking the risk” for a long wait. The rest went to our drivers who drove them back to the hotel.
The three of us returned to the start area which finally began filling with people. Local bands were playing and we noticed an increasing media presence. Being non-Indian, we became a target for many photographers and video journalists. Two young guys asked us for a YouTube video interview and a journalist of the Times of India was curious to hear our story what motivated us to attend this event. These actions kept us busy and so the time to the start of our race went by quickly. At 11 pm, the 10k run started and we were asked to line-up at the start. I was surprised to see all the different gear people wore: Some turned up in running gear with shorts, the way we were dressed. Much more people were seen in a running shirt and long trainer trousers. The less usual run gear (at least for me) was a number of people in jeans with a cotton T-Shirt or shirt. I was somewhat surprised to even see some women in their spree, with a start number attached. Another woman attached her start number on her hand bag. – I have been in start lines of many races but this mix of attire was a first but refreshing to me. It showed that you do not require special gear to attend a fun run. Attending and having fun is more important than the gear.
With the start of the race, it quickly became clear that most ones in running gear had the intention to run these 5k. The majority of the people in street wear were walking or fast walking. In any case, it was supposed to be a fun run and I had the impression that everyone enjoyed the atmosphere.
The 3-lane street provided a lot of comfortable space for all runners. Yes, they managed to completely block the street in a length of 5k for this race. This must have been the most quiet time for a very long time in this street: In regular indian traffic, there is always at least one vehicle using it’s horn…
The temperature of 29°C during the race made me quickly sweating, even running at a comfortable pace. We happily finished the race together, as planned. At the finishing line, Natasja heard someone saying that she was the first women to cross the finishing line. And Mark clocked a new personal best for the 5k distance. We were all glad to “risk” waiting longer. The payback was a fun experience.