What do you get when you combine reckless exuberance with an unfulfilled ambition? In the context of this post, a physical meltdown. As I furiously press the keys on my laptop’s keyboard, trying to show my body who’s its daddy, I have completely surrendered to the mutiny of my lower limbs, that pain and shriek—yeah, I hear them—at my tiniest attempts to move them. To be fair to them, they have every right to complain, after the torture they’ve endured. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy—but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Sunday mornings are seldom as demanding—get up late, have brunch, laze around some more, you know the drill, right?—but having signed up for the Sunfeast World 10K Bangalore, what else was I expecting? In the end the experience was both exhaustive and enriching at the same time. The event is a yearly marathon that takes place in Bangalore, which, coupled with its lovely, inviting weather for outdoor activities, saw a turnout of over twenty-three thousand enthusiastic runners this year. And they came in all size and shapes, age-groups, and demographics. I saw the modern runner—complete with sweat bands, Nike sneaks, an iPod, energy drink, the whole nine yards—and an appreciable foreign contingent setting the pace for the rest of the pack. There were ladies running in tracksuits, small kids, pudgy men, middle-aged-out-of-shape aunties, grannies and grandpas, even a baby in a pram! I also saw some costumed crusaders: Ghajini-inspired runner, a Yamaraj-lookalike, and several confused caped men. The mass exodus was flagged off from Kanteerava Indoor Stadium at 8.10am, the track snaking its way through Kasturba Road, Cubbon and Dickenson Road, before reaching its farthest point at Ulsoor Road (the 5-km mark) and turning back. People along the way were cheering us—heck, even traffic and regular cops were clapping their hands together, shouting Run maadi run! whenever they saw someone falter or slow down. It was also good to see Bangalore’s roads devoid of automobiles of any kind—you can hope to glimpse Santa on Christmas Eve before witnessing such a miracle, if you weren’t running.
I had received my bib (no. 8916) and goodie bag on Wednesday, and, although unprepared, I was really looking forward to the showdown. Apart from not being in the best of shape, and getting found out physically in terms of stamina, I take great personal joy and pride in completing the damn thing in just over two hours—2 hours 10 mins—without a single break! I winced, huffed and puffed, thrust an endless amount of fluid down my throat (knowing all too well it wasn’t the best thing to do), and I winced some more but I got the job done. Another personal highlight was bumping into Dav Whatmore—the ace Cricket coach, a stone’s throwaway from Chinnaswamy Stadium during my retreat on Cubbon Road. Said a few words, shook his hand, felt good. That was the only distraction throughout the race, apart from a band of runners chanting Ganpati Bappa Morya! at the top of their lungs. Ganpati Bappa in Bangalore? Don’t see that too often.
The event was well-organized, with ample water-medic stalls stationed throughout the course. At the time I reentered Kanteerava to finish the race, my feet felt like they were getting poked by needles all over. I relaxed and recouperated with friends at a pub on Church Street, but reaching there was another long, arduous trudge which my feet were unwilling to make. Once home, it was a long session under the hot shower, before tucking myself into bed at 2pm. Having woken up at 6am on a Sunday morning—which is nothing short of blasphemy—and walked to the tune of 12-13km, what else do you expect?
Originally published: June 1, 2009