My days at IIMA – IV: Run, IIMA, run!!!

“Hmmm…. This is gonna be a fun-day!!! Lotsa people to chase! Maybe I should start with the guy with the red t-shirt… or maybe not. He’s too fast for me. How about giving the thin fellow behind him a scare by chasing him around? Hey, Wait a minute! I wonder why they’re all running around the campus in the hot sun though.” The dogs (many of them have been long-time residents) on campus were a bewildered lot on 21st October, 2010, with a lot of folks running around in the evening-hours…  It was a day many WIMWIans (of the two-legged and four-legged kind) would remember for a long, long time!:-)

In the first event of its kind in IIMA, the class of PGPX-V organized a run called the IIMA 5K-Run-and-Walk, with a well-planned track laid out across the 100-acre IIMA campus, spanning the old and new campus-areas. This was a great initiative started by our PGPX Sports secretary – Rohit Kelkar, aspiring to make WIMWIans a healthier lot. The event was open to everyone in IIMA, including the students of various IIMA programmes like the PGP, PGPX, ABM, FPM, AFP, etc., family members, faculty and other staff members. A few weeks in advance, Rohit and I worked with the IIMA Publication department for the creation of a promotional poster to raise awareness about the event and posted them on various bulletin boards inside the campus.  The poster helped to get the message across with the catch phrase “one step closer to a healthier you!” With the help of a few volunteers, I created a set of pointers that the Run-organizers placed all along the path of the run. There was a dedicated group of volunteers positioned at various ‘strategic’ (read confusing) areas of the track, to guide runners/ walkers, apart from the pointers. A few volunteers were stationed at two checkpoints on the course, to provide water for the runners.

It was heartening for the organizers to see people turn out in large numbers, either to participate or to cheer the ones who did! Based on the statistics provided by the organizers, around 270 people registered online for the 5K run and around 125-130 turned up for the actual event .  There were several other folks who were inspired by the high spirits of the participants and made a ‘spur of the moment’ decision to join the runners. One pleasant surprise was the on-the-spot registration of a group of 10-12 army men , who were on campus as part of the AFP (Armed Forces Program – a 6-month full-time residential program for ex-servicemen). The oldest participant was around 60 years old and the youngest was hardly seven years old. It didn’t matter. Everyone was raring to get started. At around 5:15 PM. , the organizers said ‘Go!’ and IIMA’s first running event was finally underway!

Over a hundred runners set off from the back-gate of the new IIMA campus. It was a spectacular sight, runners, young and old, running with a mission, as onlookers, friends, family and even total strangers, stood on the sidelines cheering them on. The most enthusiastic cheerleaders were of course the kids of the runners, surprised/delighted to see their dads and moms running. I started my first ever long-distance run with hope in my heart and a spring in my step, determined to put my best foot forward! :-) As I approached the first of many pointers that I had helped design and prepare earlier, turned at the first I could hear spectators cheering the participants with loud chants of “Run, IIMA, run!!!”

Several amateurs started off the race like it was a sprint event. The pace was blistering at first…. and I only hope that none of them had blistered feet by the end of the run! The more seasoned runners knew enough to conserve their energy and maintain a steady pace all through the course. There were a lot of very fit runners among the participants, including folks who had run half and full marathons before. But I suspect that the majority if the runners were doing this for the first time, like I was! I’ve been hitting the gym quite often in the last few weeks and thought I wouldn’t have as much trouble with the distance – It’s only 5 km after all! I was in for a rude shock though, even before I covered 1 km of the track! :-) After the initial rush, I settled down to a rhythm of ‘a little running and more-than-a-little walking’. I found myself huffing and puffing by the time I got to the second checkpoint and after reaching out to have a glass of water, I could have sworn that the water I tasted was sweet! :-) That gave me the fuel I needed for the final stretch though and I managed to cross the finish-line eventually, after about 30-40 minutes of running/ walking!

Most of the winners completed the course in less than 20 minutes. The first two men to cross the finishing line were PGP exchange students Hubert De Brianconand Daniel De Luna. The first two women winners were Manisha Gurung, the spouse of one of my PGPX classmates and Bettina Ackermann, another PGP exchange student. The prize distribution was subsequently done on 22ndOctober, 2010 as part of Connexion events, by Mr. Murali Sivaraman, CEO, Philips India.

When I finished the race, I had felt a sense of euphoria…  I had just completed one of the items on my ever-growing list of ‘things to do in my lifetime’ – run a marathon. I was feeling good about myself and relieved that my To-Do list had just become a wee-bit smaller. All that changed as I sat down to write this blog update. I learned to my chagrin that a 5K run is not like a marathon – not even close! A marathon has a standard distance of 42.195 km (over 8 times of what my classmates and I had covered on the day). A 5K run is what aspiring runners undertake when they want ‘instant gratification’ without proper training. What was I thinking??? Oh well…. SOMEDAY, I’ll run a marathon! For now I’ll just have to contend with the fact that a certain item is going to stay on my list for awhile!:-)

– Navin Rajendran, PGPX , Class of 2011




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