Inspired by my bruised leg and a complete unwarranted stampede!

Letter to organizers of Airtel Delhi Half Marathon

Dear ADHM Organizers,

In the context of long distance race organization, you have a lot going right for you with Delhi. In November, Delhi is in the ‘pink’ of winter – it’s chilly without being freezing cold, breezy without being windy; in short, the perfect weather to organize a half marathon! Then you have the course which is set in the poshest, ‘sarkari’ part of Delhi – running along Rajpath at Km 9,10,11 admiring the grandeur of your surroundings lifts your spirits more than Lucozade. Nature and great course apart, there are huge lessons that you need to take from some of the other races organized in India itself:

ADHM 2010: Great run, poor organization

  • 5 entry/security check points into the holding area for 30,000 runners leads to frustrated people shivering in the 6:30 am morning chill and a very bad first impression
  • Only 5-6 loos near the holding area = people ‘watering’ the bushes at Civil Services Ground – saw a few foreigners sniggering at the sight; seriously avoidable!
  • Normally the mass race (in this case the Great Delhi Run) is organized 3 hrs post the start of the long distance race – it allows even slower lon distance runners to finish the race without having to jostle among the 20,000+ walkers who are in no mood to give way to the runners
  • Finisher medals – MEGA fail! The 20 yr olds handing out finisher medals started abusing the impatient junta and I was lucky to survive the ensuing stampede with a few bruises and lost earphones
  • Baggage retrieval – Baggage handling is a well established competency in India. You do it in malls, theatres, concerts, every-frickin-where! You drop your bag, it gets stored in a numbered space, you get a tag/token, you return the tag and take your bag. Simple! Well, not if you are one of the 30 bozos at ADHM baggage handling. You don’t store bags according to tag numbers and instead have 200 irate runners shouting out their tag numbers while the biggest bozo inside is announcing tag numbers at random (tambola – style) – take your bag if you’re lucky. Else wait for 45 minutes in that mess hoping for someone to have mercy on you and go looking for your tag number – SUPER FAIL!

It’s really surprising that Procam, the organizers for races like SCMM and Sunfeast Bangalore 10k do such a great job in Mumbai and Bangalore but when it comes to Delhi, the wheels seem to come off!

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