Sports Rediscovered takes its readers on an enjoyable run across some important Bengaluru landmarks by providing a first hand account of the TCS 10k run, courtesy Shubhodip Mukhopadhyay
As my flight landed in Bengaluru Airport a day before the TCS World 10K marathon, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the air hostess announce the outside temperature as 26 degrees. Leaving my city Mumbai , hot & humid at a sweltering 35 degrees and landing at Bengaluru was a happy relief. As if there was more happiness in store, I met with frequent bouts of rainfall as I entered the city.
The Kanteerava Stadium officials and the organisers of the TCS World 10K must have spent sleepless night in their effort to pump out water from the stadium (which I heard was waterlogged following the downpour) and make it ready for hosting the marathon.
Next day morning, while the country was getting ready to deal with another hot summer day, Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru was ready to welcome over 25000 running enthusiasts with the perfect weather condition, conducive for marathon running.
All runners entered the stadium through various gates as per their line up section and assembled in galleries acting as the holding area for the race. I joined all others in my holding area, in a short warm-up session organised before the race. As the clock ticked towards 6 am, the gates were opened and the runners scrambled to get to the start line on the eight lane 400m synthetic tracks of the stadium. I touched the synthetic tracks with my fingers, as a mixed feeling of joy and achievement ran in my mind for being able to run on it for the first time in my life. My timing certificate of the Pune International Marathon 2014 granted me eligibility to start the marathon from priority line up section B, behind probably a thousand odd runners. I found myself surrounded by runners wearing colourful branded sportswear, with serious faces, determined to better their timings. The race started sharp at 6 am.
Around 6:02 am, I could finally cross the start line jogging slowly on the synthetic tracks of Kaanteerava Stadium. As expected, I could hardly make space for myself , as I ran slow, out of the stadium through a narrow lane to Kasturba road to find cheering crowds on both sides with placards, shouting and clapping. Running slowly on the road with an alert mind, and taking care not to bump into a fellow runner, I found a group of dancers shaking a leg to the latest Bollywood songs. As it happens in any major marathon in the country, the first 2 kms became a big challenge to run due to the huge rush. I tried to dribble past fellow runners and ran on the foot path next to the road for some distance in an attempt to increase my pace. A group of Bhangra dancers danced enthusiastically on a makeshift dais next to the road. I found a few runners taking out a few seconds to give them company and again join back the race.
While crossing the 3 km mark near the Manekshaw parade ground, I got a taste of how this marathon has taken the shape of a national event when I heard runners cheering each other saying “come on Hyderabad runners”, “ come on Delhi runners”.
Around the 5 Km mark, people were trying to motivate runners with their pep talks. I started increasing my pace on Cubbon road. I could feel the effort and started breathing deeper and faster to keep up with my body’s demands. I entered Queens road. My body started feeling the pain. My mind started directing me to slow down, which I did not want to. I thought of diverting my mind from running and started reading the IPL banners in front of Chinnaswamy Cricket stadium, while maintaining the same pace. But then, the speakers came alive with the popular song “Pink” by Aerosmith. Probably it acted as a performance enhancer, as I threw out the thought of slowing down, kept the same speed and entered Dr Ambedkar Road. This road welcomed us with loud cheering crowds on both sides. Some of them held placards with strong motivating messages. A few of them held placards with funny lines. Funny enough to make you laugh even while you are on the run. One such placard caught my eyes which read “This is a lot of work for a Free Banana!”. The picturesque Vidhan Soudha came to my right and the High Court on to my left. What a wonderful experience it was to freely run past such famous landmarks without the fear of traffic knocking me down!
I entered Cubbon Park. My previous visits to Bengaluru had never brought me to this park, making me unaware of it’s beauty. While I ran inside the park, my eyes admired every bit of this goldmine of greenery, amidst cheering morning walkers. I ran out of Cubbon park as I crossed the 9km mark and entered Kasturba road. Another km to go, I thought to myself. As was planned earlier, I ran it in a steady controlled pace.
As I crossed the finishing line, I felt happy to be a proud finisher of this wonderfully organised popular 10K marathon. I mentally thanked the weather, the cheering crowds, Aerosmith and the organizers for making me feel so special! You have to finish a challenging race this to appreciate the joys of rest and that free banana. Thank you Bengaluru!