Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunfeast World 10K Bangalore

On a pleasant Sunday morning of 31st May 2009, Procam International in association with Kingfisher airlines, DHL, Karnataka Government, Nike, Standard Charted bank, Doordarshan, Times of India and other big sponsors had organized the Sunfeast World 10K event in Bangalore. It was an event of exceptional magnitude with over 30000+ number of participants from all over the world, I saw Africans, Japs, Germans and Chinese. Kanteerava stadium, where the event was hosted was brimming with runners of all caste, creed and colours.

We reached the holding area, well marked by banners and arrows by 6:45 in the morning, though the our race was due to start at 8:10. I killed time doing calisthenics preparing for the run, I was aware my body was not in condition despite lot of practice. Just 2 days before damned cold, that turned to mild bronchitis, had invaded me and my windpipe wasn't all that clear. The previous week's Nike Face-off corporate challenge had also left me in pretty bad shape, coz I almost sprinted 3Km which I was not used to. I had lost hopes of breaking my previous two records, was aiming on finishing within an hour. This was my third 10K event and personally the worst among all, the first one I had done it in 49'35" and the second one in 49'12".

The 10K event for elite athletes began by around 7, majority of runners were mainly Africans and Indians, sparsely dotted by a couple of white men. I saw an Indian taking lead when the event started, but he was nowhere in the scene during the finish. We were stupefied to see the Ehtiopian Deriba Merga enter the stadium for his final lap and he finished 10-long-kilometers in 28'13"!!!!!!!! One of the Indian also made it within 30 minutes. This was followed by Wheelchair event and Senior Citizen run. There was ladies elite athlete 10K event after that.

It was nearing 8:10, the stipulated time for our Open 10K event to kick start. We had assembled close to the gate to enter the stadium and finally the gates were thrown open. The crowd was so much that we had to push and shove ourselves to enter the stadium and at that juncture something unusual happened which kinda pissed me, probably others too, off. Even before we had entered the running track, the coutdown started and people already started running and the crowd went frenzy. Few of them jumped over the barricades and started the run and by the time I entered the track, more than a minute had already elapsed.

The running started off in a very jam packed ambience...we were overcrowded on the streets and we had to nudge and dash against few of the runners initially to proceed further. The first water point was at the first kilometer almost at the end of Kasturba road, the water givers were a bunch of lethargic beings who were just unpacking their cartons of water bottles. I actually had to wait for a jiffy before I got the bottle. We then turned towards queen's road, entered cubbon road and ran all the way till Manipal center. By third kilometer, my right leg started aching which was highly unexpected. We happened to see the returning elite lady athletes enroute on Cubbon road.

We turned left on Dickinson road and immediately right on Ulsoor road and did a U turn at the end of Ulsoor road and continued to Kamaraj road on Dickinson road. There were people giving out glucose and water; also were the people who were exhorting the runners in all possible ways. There were cute little cheer girls, there were people with encouraging banners, applauding auto-drivers, protecting police, plethora of photographers and folks of the participants. From cubbon road, we continued to GPO and turned left on Ambedkar road towards Vidhana Soudha.

Running in front of magnificent Vidhana Soudha was an out-of-the-world experience. I had not seen the building in like decades and now I was proudly running in front Bangalore's historical landmark...it motivated me greatly even though I was exhausted. Even the red monument High-court was very inspiring. 2 more kilometers was all that was left from Vidhana Soudha, we entered the cubbon park and ran along the Sheshadri Iyer library before hitting Kasturba road, and ending the race in Kanteerava. I would have almost ran over a camerman who was attempting for a weird angle lying down on the road. When I tread the finish mat, the reading on my stop watch read exactly 60 minutes.

I had mixed feelings - happy to finish it within an hour and sad to see an ocean of people who had finished earlier than me. I collected water and went straight to get the participation certificate. The certficicate counters were herded as though it looked like an exodus. I then head to refreshment counter and I was appalled by what they gave - a crumpled bun, which PCA guys wouldn't feed to stray dogs, an apple and a pack of Sunfeast biscuits. Based on my previous experience I was expecting atleast a bottle of juice or bananas or oranges or some kinda health drink (some UB product!!!). It was disheartening not to receive a finisher's medal, but I realized how difficult it would be to give out medals to 30000+ populace.

I had great hopes of running alongside Deepika Padukone, forget running, I didn't even get a chance to see her. It seems, the Open 10K event was followed by Majja Run - 5K event. As the name says, it was more of fun than a serious sporting event. I heard there were people with weird costumes that probably would have looked like some kinda Halloween march or something. I can't report much on this, for I just saw few passing characters dressed weirdly. participants. Overall the event was very well organized considering the Brobdingnagian participation. Kudos to all the sponsors, all the volunteers, all the organizers and finally all the runners to make this event a grand success.

Unfortunately I can't report this article with photographs, for obvious reasons. However you can find lots of great photographs from my flickr friends here:

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