Quit the rat race, join the human race! The time has come to put our best foot forward. Get your sneakers out. Join the MARG-Chennai Marathon for Give Life. Let’s run for something good. Lets run for the under privileged children. Let’s run for hope. Let’s run for life. Let’s run for something. Let’s just run!
That was the newspaper advertisement which took my attention couple of weeks ago. Chennai is going to host the third richest marathon in the world and in addition, the richest half marathon in India because prize money 6 million INR is involved. But what aroused my interest was that it is being organized for a great cause- the profits from the marathon will go towards Give Life, a charitable organization that supports around 13,600 under privileged students across Tamil Nadu-. No second thought. I decided to join.
While registering for the marathon I was trapped in a dilemma: whether to opt for 7Km Great Chennai run or 21.09 km professional run. 7 Km is okay but what about 21 Km? I haven’t ever run this much distance ever in my life. Anyway, I didn’t want to settle for something doable. So, I made up my mind to take part in 21Km professional run.
On august 31, 2008, at 6:45 AM Union Minister for sports M.S.Gill flagged off the run. Thunderous applauses, hooting, screaming mixed with vibrant band music were sufficient enough to propel a runner’s mind and body. Enthusiasm filled all over among runners and also among the cheerful crowd gathered there to witness this magnificent event. I was really thrilled as it was my first marathon run in my life.
I only had a single aim in my mind: to finish successfully the 21Km mark at any cost. I didn’t tried (nor dared) to speed up or over take anyone. I kept on hydrating my body and just sustained the momentum all through the run until I reached the half way point- 13 Km mark at Besant Nagar beach- for registering the chest number. I took to walking for a few meters by drinking enough water and also washed my body with water sponges to resist the merciless sun. All these were fresh experiences for me, and it was real fun.
But, the fun side of the marathon began vanishing when I reached the 18 Km mark just 3 Km away from the finish line. My legs started showing the signs of severe fatigue and I even felt really hard to breath. After witnessing the scene of other runners lying on the foot path out of breath or might be owing to muscle strain, I even diverted my mind to quit the marathon. 3 Km still lying ahead and a little energy left in my body, I again resorted to walking for a few meters, meanwhile, took a ‘mini bath’ on road!
What have started as fun ending up being a torture itself? Weak thoughts started pulling me back. It made me think that even our life is akin to a marathon, isn’t it? Plenty of pull backs and set backs. It is nothing other than a test of patience, perseverance and endurance. Finishing with those philosophical thoughts, I took myself back to running slowly and consistently just enough to reach the finish point. Finally, after a long struggle with my tightened muscles, I successfully reached my destination at 9:25 AM. After taking stretching exercises I proudly took the hard earned rest. Phew! I hadn’t thought of successfully finishing my first marathon in life. Accomplishment of the task brought me a great feeling. A great feeling of achievement and runner’s high as bonus!
Did I run for an accolade? Absolutely, no because while registering I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to reach the 21 Km mark or end up in one of the 15 ambulances parked along the marathon route. Then why I did that? Was it for fun? Partially, yes because for me, running is freedom. Actually why I ran? Was it for a good cause? Absolutely, yes! Different from my regular morning runs, to boost up confidence, health and well being, running and sweating out for a good cause make ourselves feel special, isn’t it? So, I ran for it. I stand for it!
Last but not least, I’m expressing my heartfelt condolence to the grieving family of M.Santhosh, 2nd year student of Msc Applied Geology, Anna University who collapsed and died close to the finish line of the 21.09 Km professional run.