Road to charity: city gets its feet together for marathon
By Nithin Belle (Mumbai Musings)
16 January 2008
ABOUT 30,000 runners, including 40 of the world’s 100 top athletes, will be participating in the fifth Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, on Sunday. Thousands of Mumbai residents will line the over 20-km-long route from CST to Bandra Reclamation — the marathoners will return along the same route to CST.
The runners would include Bollywood celebrities, some leading industrialists and Page Three celebrities. But while there will be several celebrity-gawkers at the event — and the media (especially electronic) would undoubtedly be focussing on them — the Mumbai Marathon is increasingly becoming associated with the charity aspect.
Last year, the marathon raised almost Rs80 million for various charities involving 150 NGOs. This year, the organisers hope to raise almost Rs100 million. The Mumbai Marathon, which is the richest marathon in Asia and also features among the top ten marathons in the world, has emerged as the single largest charity event in India.
This year, the prize money has been raised by $10,000 to $240,000. Four events in the marathon are the main vehicles for raising funds: the Corporate Sporting Challenge, the Corporate Challenge, the Dream Team and the Pledgers United. GiveIndia is the official charity partner for the race.
The Corporate Sporting Challenge is a relay race involving teams of six runners, each covering about seven km – thus finishing the full marathon of 42.195 km. This year, over 60 corporate teams will participate in the marathon.
The Mumbai marathon includes five categories: the full marathon ( 42.195 km), the half marathon (21.097 km), the dream run (six-km), the senior citizens run (4.3-km), and the wheelchair event (2.5-km).
A new environmental initiative, ‘Race for a living planet,’ has also been introduced this year, as part of four marathon relays. ‘The Greatest Race on Earth’ (GROE) initiative by Standard Chartered Bank encourages people to select and undertake up to eight pledges – pledging can be done on <http://www.thegreatestrace.com/>www.thegreatestrace.com – to save the planet, and an additional $1 million prize is to be won by countries with the most number of pledges per capita.
The GROE covers 53 national teams and 34 nations taking part in the four events – the marathons in Nairobi, Singapore, Mumbai and Hong Kong .
THE Mumbai marathon has emerged as a major event in the city’s annual calendar. Besides corporate sponsors, the state government, the Mumbai police and the Bombay Municipal Corporation all pitch in with their efforts to ensure the success of the run.
The Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy also contributes to the race, with the naval band in performance. The Navy’s helicopters also ensure live television coverage of the event; several channels will be telecasting the event live on Sunday morning.
As happens in so many IPOs (initial public offers), the Mumbai marathon too has got an over-whelming response, and has been ‘over-subscribed.’ As against a maximum of 30,000 running places, the organisers received nearly double the number of applications.
About 3,000 runners will be doing the full marathon, while 8,000 will participate in the half-marathon. The dream run will attract the largest number of participants – about 14,000. The rest will be accounted for by runners in the corporate challenge, the senior citizens’ run and the wheelchair event.
The dream runners will include celebrities like John Abraham, Vivek Oberoi, Rahul Bose and Suchitra Krishnamurthy (all Bollywood actors) and Revathy Menon, Madhavan, Khushboo and Rohini (from the celluloid world of the south).
This year, the marathon is being run under the banner of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), which has granted official recognition to the Mumbai Marathon. The IAAF has awarded it a silver label, which is given to marathons with a minimum of five top athletes who have recorded timings of under 2:12 (for men) and 2:32 (for women) over the preceding two years.