I have run 4 editions of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, and the most common question friends ask me is, “Why Mumbai?” Well, there are races, and then there is the baap of all races. To start off, Mumbai is one of the best and most vibrant cities in India. It’s already the dream world for many (To be honest, our writer is a bit biased, as he happens to hail from Mumbai himself 😀 – Editor). And SCMM is one of the best organised races not only in India, but in Asia.
While running SCMM you will pleasantly meet folks in huge numbers, some of whom have no reason for being there, coming out and enthusiastically cheering for total strangers. It is heart-warming, to say the least. In fact the overall experience of the event is so good that you won’t feel the need to put on your running music even once. Here is why I think every runner should run SCMM at least once:
- Crowd Strength: Well you get to run amid thousands of runners. The full marathon category gets roughly 4000 registrations, the half gets 14,000 registrations, and the dream run accounts for more than 20,000 registrations. That’s a HUGE crowd to run with! You’ll get your heart kicking even before the race starts.
- Crowd support: Now this is one factor that none other race in India can beat SCMM in (An exception might be the Vasai-Virar Marathon). The crowd support for SCMM is crazy AF. There are seemingly endless miles of people by the roadside. This is one day when there is no discrimination between people. People right from slum, to swanky town-side apartments come out to cheer the runners. Small children distributing sweets, a family giving out oranges, bananas and glucose; this caring nature is what makes runners go the distance. The Pedder road stretch is the most awaited spot for all runners. You’ll get distracted from the soreness of your legs by catchy quotes on placards like, “Run fast. I just farted” or “I thought they said rum.” You will find kids most enthusiastic about giving high fives as you cross Mahim. And if you miss one of them they’ll run back to you to give a high five.
- The Bandra–Worli sea link, and much more in store: This is the only time in the year when the sea link is closed for vehicle movement, and there are thousands of runners who throng the 5.6km stretch for a mesmerising sight.
You get a glimpse of Sidhivinayak temple, Haji Ali dargah, St. Michael’s church, Chowpatty, Wilson College, CST station, Worli sea face, Queen’s necklace, BMC headquarters and many more, all in one run.
- Queen’s Necklace: Running the SCMM is the only time in the year when you’ll feel like you literally own this Marine drive stretch. There will not be even a single BMW, Porsche or other high end car burning the tar on this morning.
- Encouragement throughout the route: This year I ran my first full marathon. Although I trained well for the race, a small crash on the 5th km gave me a severe knee cramp. It was a very painful run-walk routine for me from here. Every step was more painful than the previous. By km 15, I was all set to quit the race. But then I saw a blade runner running the full distance, although slow, but still running. This sight made me continue running, although I missed my target time badly, but I completed. Mumbai has this in store for you. You’ll find less privileged runners running along you, sometimes ahead of you, and you’ll feel proud of it.
- Elite runners: Another advantage of the run-walk routine was that I witnessed the Kenyan elite pack run past me. That’s a scary moment, as well as an adrenaline rush. They seem to be almost superhuman, these super athletes. They have super strides, and machine-like movement, and they always run in a pack.
- Bollywood: You’ll be running along with prominent people from Bollywood. Chances are you’ll find Milind Soman right beside you in the middle of the race, and he saying a small hello to you, or John Abraham waving at you at the start point. I saw singer Shaan Mukherjee the first time I ran SCMM, and I was awestruck at how casually he was interacting with common people.
- Well Organised: The whole run is beautifully organised, right from BIB collection, entry into the holding area, to the availability of water/refreshments/energy drinks/Ice.
- Mumbai Police: Countless number of police constables sacrifice their Sunday holiday to ensure a smooth run for you.
- The cool zone: The two cool zones at the fag end of the race, with the sun blazing upon you, is a short sigh of relief for all runners.
- Free beer post-race: In the recent editions of this race, there’s been free beer (yes you heard that goddamn right :D) on offer after you complete the run. And there is always the ever-green Leopold Café for you to go on a beer chugging competition with your running buddy post-race. I hope these are enough reasons for you to run this event, as it is a not-to-be-missed race.
The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is held on the third Sunday of January every year. The 2017 edition is on 15th January. Registrations start from 20th July, 2016. The registration process requires a timing certificate from a previous race. Do register soon, as the Half marathon category gets sold out within a week. Here’s the link