It is the day of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon and while I’m out there running you can get to know more about my marathon obsession. But, no, I had been bitten by the travel bug first. The ‘run bug’ bit about five years ago when the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai was opened for public use. After the ‘first-day, first drive’ euphoria, we now wanted to walk, run and loiter on it. That, of course, was not possible. Possible, my husband and I discovered, when we thought a bit harder, if we participate in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.
But then, never having run in our lives, doing a 21 km was out of question. Until we got into serious running a year ago, when some of us in the same neighbourhood came together to form a running group and a weekly running regime. The novices amongst us gave ourselves to the ‘Marathon Veterans’ in the group, and were soon moulded from a ‘I can’t run’ to ‘conquered 5km, 8km, 10km’.
We soon got carried away by the rising confidence and registered for the Satara Hill Half Marathon in September 2014, also called it the ‘Ultra’ Half Marathon! Blame the desire to participate on a moment of heightened insanity. For, all through the 21.1 kms, there is a 413 meter ascent that needs to be conquered. You start at 678 metres above sea-level, go through 4 kms of the Satara town, and then start climbing the Satara hills till about 1059 metres above the sea level! Lured by the prospect of seeing the Kaas Plateau in full bloom post the rains and after a protracted training, Jayanta, my husband, and I did manage to complete our run within decent timings.
The Satara medal, now hanging from our necks, gave rise to another demon—we wondered, how about one medal from picturesque marathons around the world? Here’s our list.
Athens Marathon – A run here is akin to going back to where it all started. Try finding out how the word ‘marathon’ came about and you will learn that when the Greek village called Marathon was invaded by the Persian army, the Athenians offered a tough resistance and won the battle. An Athenian soldier then ran 24 miles (approx. 37 km) to the city of Athens to deliver the news of their victory to the establishment. Those 24 miles gave birth to the modern day Marathon. An Athenian medal, then, would be the mother of all medals, what say?
Details: 8th Nov 2015
Start point: Marathon
Ladakh Marathon – Driving down is better than flying to Ladakh—the advice most people give you when you say you are headed there. You get to experience so much more of the desert-mountain beauty that way, they go on to say. So then, imagine what a run at 11,500 ft, past little villages, stupas, the Leh Valley and the Indus river can do your senses? A medal here would certify that you have run the world’s highest marathon and maybe the most serene one too!
Details: 13th Sept 2015
Start point: Leh
Istanbul Marathon – How about running from one continent to another? From Asia you run into Europe—that’s Istanbul Marathon for you—a bridge across the continents, a bridge from the East to the West! You run past the Bosphorus Strait, majestic mosques and ancient towns when you sign up for the Istanbul Marathon. The traveller in you squeals at the prospect, doesn’t it? Not without reason.
Race date: 15th Nov 2015
Start point: Near Bosphorus Bridge
Bhutan Marathon – I can give my right hand, or maybe right leg, to do a walking tour of Bhutan. Crazy dream, you accuse. Well, then, maybe a marathon, I negotiate. Frankly, I could do anything and everything to simply go back to Bhutan’s green valleys, enigmatic dzongs, picturesque countryside! That the marathon ends at the mighty Punakha Dzong is an added bonus.
Race date: 23rd Feb 2015
Start point: Upper reaches of rural Punakha
Big Five Marathon of South Africa – Imagine an opportunity to see the Big Five (lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo and leopard) and giraffes, zebras, antelopes and other wildlife while running a marathon. You’d be forgiven to think that this was a safari instead. I bet, you’d wish to run with your camera dangling from your neck. Yes? Well, train with it then!
Race date: 20th June 2015
Start point: Lakeside Lodge at the Entabeni Game Reserve, South Africa
Barossa Valley Marathon – Here is the perfect opportunity to pop the cork of the champagne, err… sparkling wine, after a run. You have, after all, run past vineyards and wineries of the Barossa Valley, Australia’s famous wine region. While most people go for walking tour of vineyards, you can flaunt your ‘running tour’ of vineyards! Cheers to the dream.
Race date: 24th May 2015
Start point: Tanunda, South Australia
Jungfrau Marathon – A run past the lovely, heaven-on-earth Interlaken and then a trek of the Alpine mountains, Jungfrau Marathon is not for the one with a weak heart or weak legs. For this one marathon, though, I’d be willing to keep aside my ‘timing goal’ and simply run, walk, climb and soak in the beauty. Nothing more, nothing less!
Race date: 12th Sept 2015
Start point: Interlaken
San Francisco Marathon – why else but to run past, you guessed it, the Golden Gate Bridge. By now you know of our ‘bridge’ fixation!
Race date: 26th July 2015
Start point: San Francisco city
That reminds me, my dream of running in the Bandra-Worli Sea link has come true this Sunday as I run the Mumbai Marathon. If you are mad about running too, tell us which runs are your favourite and why.
Deepa Dutta Chaudhuri
Writer, blogger and one half of the warring couple of Wheels on Our Feet. And a newbie marathon runner!