This was my first ever participation in an 10k event. Of course I have ran 10 kms in few RFL weekend runs before, but they are different ball game, with much less crowd and more greener environs like Cubbon park or Bellandur and mostly not on asphalt.
Unfortunately I was so tied up in so many other things I could manage only 2 days of training in last 2 month’s(You can read it as a lame excuse for not training). So, there was lot self doubt. Then, this is one of the showcase events of Bangalore and possibly India ‘The Sunfeast Open 10k‘, and I didn’t want to miss it anyways.
I showed up at the Kanteerava Stadium some 40 minutes before the scheduled start time of 8:10 a.m on May 31st. There was an unmistakable buzz around the event zone right from the Cubbon Park Gate near to Jewel De Paragon. Traffic was being so directed to avoid inconvenience to the runners, there were hoardings all around congratulating and encouraging runners (The corporates don’t want to miss any chance to increase their brand recall). I headed straight inside the stadium gallery via the entry gate meant for Open 10k participants ‘without the timing chip’. Wow!! There were at least 2-3k participants in that gallery itself. Once inside the gallery I caught some rare glimpse of the first batch of elite runners entering the stadium and crossing the finishing line, they had started at 7:10. Time on the stadium stop watch read 29 minutes and few odd seconds !! No wonder most of the guys who finished below 30 minutes were from African countries (Ithiopia, Kenya etc…) These guys were running the last few meters inside the stadium like it were a 100m sprint.
The Open 10k started on time at 8:10, I assume (I didn’t carry any time keeper with me). First to start were the ones who had taken the timing chips from the organizers. There were no audible announcements for us without timing chip wallahs, so we were still in the gallery till that time. But then, slowly the realization sunk in that there were no proper exit for entering the race track from this gallery and people had started going to the track via a small exit door which had capacity of just 2-3 people at a time and that exit gate too passed via another gallery. Talk of Indian Habit of Bottlenecks!! So, people (mainly the younger lot) started losing patience and started jumping over the fence of the gallery to reach the track. Not a good sight, I must say. It was just short of a little stampede out there, and we were lucky not to have any serious casualties. A Big area of improvement for the organizers for the next season i guess. You cannot afford to have 5k people enclosed in one area with a exit gate which allows just 2-3 people to exit at a time!!
Baring that particular aspect, the event was mostly well organized. So, yours truly managed to reach the starting line going via the proper exit at 8:18 a.m ( I checked the time from another participant) and started the run. It was pleasant weather, road mostly covered by tress. The number of participants was just overwhelming and was difficult to keep track of how many people one crossed or was crossed by. So, it was all about oneself, listening to the body, when it demands intermediate walk breaks and when it urges back to run. I tried to go by 1:1 splits of run/walk but then there was no official strategy and took it just easy, enjoying the crowd. There were plenty of water stalls on the 5k route (close to 7??), plenty more than what I have found till date in any other event, probably because of the sheer number of participants!! and there were some pretty cheerleaders too!! Seen plenty of them on the IPL, but this was the first time yours truly was on the other side err…. I meant being cheered, assuming they cheer the sportsmen and not the audience.
So, I ran:walked and completed the 10k run (Na, don’t want to call it a marathon, I still want to complete one full marathon sometime this year). At the finish line I checked the time again from another random participant, and it was 9:38 a.m. My unofficial timing for the 10k open now is 1 hour 20 minutes not taking into account the few minutes discrepancy these two gentlemen might have adjusted their watch to accommodate their own version of IST.
Oh yes on a side note, I ran this Open 10k for CUPA which is a NGO and does very good work in the field of animal welfare. They have been an inspiration for me in adopting our doggie Zoya, more on that later. I Got a very rich goody bag from the organizers containing things like Sugar Free, small Fiama De Willis Shampoo and conditioner bottles, Mint O Fresh, Few sunfeast biscuit packets, Some capsules and tonic from some health care company (Don’t remember the name of the company) and a water bottle. Am not sure if every participant got the same things. I wish the goody bag wasn’t this rich, and companies had instead donated this money to charities like CUPA.
Now am looking forward to my next event i.e., the first ever duathlon in India on June 14th. I have set myself a target of completing 10k run + 20k cycling. For the time being I’ll be happy to just complete it. Wish me Luck!!