Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Rippling muscles, wizened faces, indomitable spirit

BANGALORE: When thousands of Bangaloreans put on their sneakers and braced for a run with the early-morning breeze hitting their face at the Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday, all that ruled their mind was the sheer joy and spirit of doing a run.

From industrialists to actors to techies to students; the young and the old - they were all there, braving the sun that got harsher by the minute and the run that got tougher by the mile. Even after a strenuous morning drill, the smiles on the participants' faces didn't wane. Stamina kept a steady pace with enthusiasm.

A regular at long-distance runs, Bollywood actor Rahul Bose, who ran on Sunday, tweeted, "Beautiful day for running in Bangalore. Felt easy and fluid today. Did world 10K run in 54 minutes. Was good for 5k more."

The senior-citizens category stole the show. Dressed in bright yellow, 785 energetic senior citizens won big applause with 104-year-old Krishnaiah and 102-year-old Subbalakshmi emerging clean winners. Krishnaiah said: "My next four generations are in front of me. I'm elated. I couldn't run, but I'm happy I could encourage the rest of the participants."

A reluctant first-timer who finished the race, Chandra Layout's 73-year-old Mythili Krishnan is thrilled: "My children and grandchildren encouraged me to join the race. Such events help us be fit mentally and physically."
The open 10K category broke all barriers. TS Chalapathi, a 64-year-old, pounded the road along with his five-year-old grandson. "We are three generations running today. This is my fourth year at Bangalore 10K and I finished my race in 1 hour, 10 minutes against last year's 1 hour, 24 minutes. My son and grandson were equally excited about the race," an elated Chalapathi said.

The wheelchair category proved once again - if it was ever required, at all - that the human spirit is supreme. The fun quotient was aplenty in the Majja Run that saw 11,018 participants hit the road. NGOs provided a touch of seriousness, beaming social causes.

Environment, vegetarianism and charities were some of the themes that created ripples during the run. Vegan Arun Rangasamy ran barefoot, promoting veganism. "Going vegan is the most preferred way to live. After they were detected with deadly diseases, many sportspersonalities have resorted to veganism. I ran to promote the cause," said Arun.

There was action off-track too. A group of 50 volunteers from Saahas, an organization to rid the city of waste management, ensured the place was garbage free. Its volunteers ran with bins and scooped up the waste to be sent for recycling. "Some 95% of the 1.5 tons of waste - plastic, papers and tetrapacks - expected to be generated at the event will be recycled," said Wilma Rodrigues of Saahas.

Cool for men, but hot and humid for women
The early morning showers that lashed the city came as blessing to thousands of runners. The elite men runners, mainly from African nations, got the full benefit of the weather and the winner finished close to the course record that was set in 2008. The women runners, who started an hour later, weren't so lucky as the temperatures shot up drastically. Adding to their discomfort was the rising humidity. The effect of the heat wave reflected in their timings too.
Late risers & thin crowds

The early start meant there were fewer people to cheer the runners The saving grace was the growing number of cheer leaders organized by the sponsors and thousands who came in to race. "It's too much to expect the locals to be up so early and supporting the athletes. It is different in European cities. The 10K race in London starts at 11 am as there is no worry about the temperatures," race director Hugh Jones said. How about an evening race?

Growing Participation
'Run as One' was the theme around which the latest edition of the World 10K rallied. And as statistics show the number of serious runners in the city has been growing at a rapid pace. As many as 9,000 runners participated in the Open 10K race which saw enthusiastic amateurs too join in. The masses soon melted into staggered packs and lone runners. The common aim was a decent finish irrespective of the timing and this most of them managed. Groups assembled at points comparing notes - how much distance they covered and how soon.

Timing chip-tap dance
Many athletes made sure their footsteps were heard extra-loud on specially- designed floor mats at a few points along the route. They were eager to ensure that they successfully registered their time with the help of chips attached to their boots. A small disc-like device, the timing chip is read by a sensor placed on the mat which immediately transmits the runner's data and time to a collection point. At one point along the way, a giant screen even displayed names of runners who had completed a set distance.

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