Monday, January 22, 2018

Tata Mumbai Marathon, did they compromise the runners safety and experience?

Tata Mumbai Marathon, did they compromise the runner's safety and experience this year?

Credit: https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/bibbandits_shutterstock.jpg?quality=90&strip=all

I was a great fan of SCMM for 3 years of my participation. I extended the same level of loyalty when I heard about the Tata Mumbai Marathon this year.
The reason was simple, it was another procamrunning.in event.
Even though I enjoyed the running aspect of the TMM this year, I was totally disappointed and shocked about many aspects of the arrangements made by the organizers.
*** The top of the list: "extremely marathoner unsafe/unfriendly finish line ***
Usually, runners out of excitement and by having certain finish time goals, push extremely hard to get to the finish line. The last 500 meters is the usual dashing zone where many runners peak their pace and heart rate. It is a universal safety recommendation that every runner, after any hard run must have to bring their cardiovascular system to 'normal' by cooldown actions, simply by jogging for about 5 mins at least.
I completed my run in 4 hr 41 min. The finish line and the road leading up to the recovery tent had hundreds of runners sitting, some lying on the road, few were getting assisted stretches from their friends, some taking selfies & pics, and few others were breathless, extremely cramping without any idea of what to do. There was not even an inch left to slowly jog and bring the heart rate to normal. I did not do a dashing finish this year and did not have any need for a slow jog after my finish.
But what about others who went all out to finish?
I'was totally shocked to read the news about few runners critically affected at the finish line. It wasn't a surprise to read such a news when the finish line, by the way, it was designed at TMM, was totally marathoners unfriendly.
** Dangerously super crowded and unsafe recovery area ***
The recovery tent was overly crowded with runners including the medal distribution area. Runners, after collecting their medals or after getting out of the recovery tent, were not allowed to exit through the same way they came in, that area was like a war zone, chaotic and ready for some kind of stampede at any moment. Fortunately, nothing of that sort happened yesterday.
I did not know how to exit the ground, and I couldn't find signboards directing me to get out of the Azad Maidan. I had to make some wild guesses and ask other runners to move around. I also realized, there was a large amount of unutilized ground space insider the Azad Maidan. The recovery tent + the medal counters could have been elaborately spaced to avoid crowding at the finish area like this.
** Overly chocking, polluted and dusty Azad Maidan, triggering coughing and troubling anyone allergic to dust **
There was filth everywhere (thanks to the careless people who love to throw garbage all around) and dust coming from the dry ground with so many footfalls from people moving around at the same time.
I found many runners were coughing and struggling to even breath with the elevated level of dust pollution. I had struggles staying there for a long time. The ground could have been watered in the morning to avoid this.
** Post run refreshment was a joke **
The post-run refreshment goodie bag had 2 instant coffee powder packets, 1 packet uncooked 2 minutes noodles, an apple, a milkshake tetra pack... How do the organizers expect the runners to eat the uncooked noodles? Is this the concept of Nestle's Nutrition? how can the organizers expect the runners, at the finish line, consume the instant coffee sachets? Shouldn't they be getting on to the goodie bag given at the expo and don't we all deserve a decent breakfast?
I don't even know if I missed the breakfast served elsewhere. Can someone talk about it?
If this was everything about the post-run refreshment? Isn't this a joke.
What happened to all the registration money collected?
** Amateur runners received wild treatment on the course **
The elite runner lead bikes + cyclists were shouting and screaming at the runners to give way to the elite runner's pack, nearly abusing everyone on the way. I do understand the so-called star runners need their space to run fast, but that doesn't mean that the regular amateur runners need to be treated that way.
Final thoughts,
I notice that many large marathon event organizers are struggling to handle the exponentially growing runners participating in their events. Every year, they keep increasing the registration fees by 10%-20%. This is no longer an entry barrier. Every aspiring runner wants to experience what many others have experienced during the best times these events were organized and they don't mind spending more.
This is the second such event in the last 2 months I've witnessed which had a disastrous finish line and I fear the growing popularity of such large events are done compromising the safety and experience of several innocent runners.
Isn't this important that the organizers must focus on the following things in the same order, irrespective of the size of the event?
1. "Care and Safety" of the runners + their cheerleader gang of family and friends across all age categories
2. "Runners experience" do not mix elite and amateur on the same course if you are going to treat the amateur runners differently
3. After taking care of the above, if anything left, try to care for your promoters 
4. Make some money, if possible
I strongly feel this is the only way the running community can organically and safely grow in India.

Tata Mumbai Marathon, did they compromise the runners safety and experience?

Tata Mumbai Marathon, did they compromise the runner's safety and experience this year? Credit: https://thenypost.files.wordpress....