Why I am not running the BSNL Bangalore International Marathon

6 minute read

There has been a lot of press mentions lately about the BSNL Bangalore International Marathon which is going to happen tomorrow. I will not be running it because it is not intended for people who love running.

Why do I say that?

  1. The Bangalore Ultra Marathon was announced eleven months ago that it will be held on December 16, 2007. The BSNL Bangalore International Marathon was announced by the Karnataka Athletic Association just about one month two weeks ago that it will also be held on Dec 16, 2007. They knew very well that the Ultra is happening on the same day! I don't know what is the inside story, but I think it's pure one-upmanship, they got ticked off that the preparations and publicity for the Ultra seemed to be going well.

  2. The organizers of the BSNL Bangalore International Marathon do not take running seriously. If they did, they would not organize a training camp for just ten days. Do they really think they can convert a new person interested in running to eventually run 42 km in just ten days?! If you consult advice by professional runners, you will find out that it takes 18 weeks to train for a marathon according to the charts whether you're a beginner or an advanced runner. Talk to any runner on how long they took to prepare for their first marathon and you'll know the difference. In fact, if you want to know what kind of preparation hardcore runners do, see this marathon day checklist.

  3. They are not allowing women to run the full marathon! When asked for the reason, they say that they don't expect many women to run it so they decided not to allow it. I have many things to say about that but let me stick to facts - there are many women runners out there, it's just that the Karnataka Athletic Association does not seem to be encouraging about it. Do they know there are women runners in India such as Priya who ran 100 miles (160 km) in the Himalayas?

As a running enthusiast, these are enough reasons for me to not take the BSNL Bangalore International Marathon seriously. Instead, I'm running the Bangalore Ultra Marathon tomorrow.

In fact, there were discussions in the open-for-all RunnersForLife mailing list regarding postponing the Ultra because of this clash, but the race director Madhu strictly said no. As an aside, if I'm not wrong, Madhu is a volunteer organizing this and is not even part of the Ultra organizers company! Compare this with how the other marathons are being organized.

Even CrossOver who organized the previous marathons held in Bangalore have postponed it at least four times this year! It's appalling that these organizers don't take these events seriously.

Contrast that with the participants in the Ultra marathon who met on Friday night for carb-loading and had a ball of a time meeting other fellow runners.

I attended that pasta party and met a lot of enthusiastic people. One of them was a guy called Andrew. What's special about him? He's a 68-year old guy, and the Ultra tomorrow is going to be his 592nd marathon! That's right, that's three digits. He's been running since 1976. In fact, he's flown down from New York just to run the Ultra. He's also participated in the Himalayan run that I mentioned earlier. Now, that's true passion for a sport!

As for myself, I have not at all trained properly in the last two months but I'm hoping that the old routine of running 16 km every weekend morning will kick back in tomorrow and I'll hopefully run well.

Bangalore Ultra 2007

Disclosure: I'm NOT part of the RFL club, just an avid runner. I may join the RFL runs in future, but I'm certainly not biased towards them. However, I am biased towards running and runners.


Swaroop says:

@Manu: Maybe we will run (sic) into each other someday :) ... As I mentioned, I'm not part of the RFL club, but I did hear your brother's name mentioned while giving out medals on stage at the Ultra, unfortunately I was not in the viewing area at that time and was too exhausted to get up, heh.

anita says:

valid points! especially the one on not allowing women to compete the full marathon was unbelievable. i'm quite glad i did my (first) long run at the ultra instead :)

sindhoor says:

Not to mention the postmortem. I dont think there was a single unhappy ultra runner. There have only been praises for the location, the logistics, the participants, the volunteers, the organizers....the list goes on.

Now find a single HAPPY Bangalore marathon runner. There have only been complaints about the traffic, the dogs, the gender discrimination, the bad organization, the sheer indifference of the organizers...the list goes on.

I am a bangalorean and really wanted to run the Bangalore Marathon. Its MY city. But it seems like it was made impossible for me to run it. Literally. As a woman I was not allowed to register for it. Sigh!

Prashant Kumar says:

Good piece. Yes, there is no comparison between the two events. Ultra is miles ahead of any other marathon. And very true point regarding the intentions of KAA or Crossover. The chaos that ensued in yesterday's BSNL Marathon was expected. Contrast with that the fantabulous experience of every single Ultra runner. Everything there rocked!!

Kannappan says:

I dint know all these behind-the-scenes politics. I am not a professional runner. I just went, ran and completed the half marathon in 3 hours ;-) .I have never before run even 3 kms on a stretch.. so it was a challenge for me to even complete the race which I did and am happy abt it. So no complaints whatsoever.

Yesterday, I knew that there was an ultra marathon happening through YahooUpcoming and I was thinking that the ultra marathon organisers were so cheap that they conduct their marathon on the same date that the International Marathon is happening :D

The truth is completely opposite, Thanks for letting me know the truth :) !!! .. I was not able to see this info on Hindu or TOI and I guess thats what differentiates a blog versus traditional media.

Madhu says:

Swaroop. Thanks-for taking a moral stand. It is important in life to always take a stand for what is right and I am glad that you did and spoke out.




chris mcfaul says:

Hello I was looking to run a marathon sometime in December after a disapointing time in Singapore.
I tried to enter the lipton marathon for the 30th but this was cancelled and brought forward! Anyhow 3 days to organise flights/visa/enter! BSNL helped a lot as did the Indian embassy in Jakarta.
The marathon was good enjoyed the route - a bit of chaos at the end and no medals given out. I would recomend it if it happens again in December - if they allow women as the route was good and temperature perfect.
If the ultra and marathon got together it may work out better - a bit like canberra where it all starts and finishes at same place.
It was difficult to find any information about either event - and if they are continually changed its impossible for tourists to plan.
Anyhow first time in India enjoyed the spirit may be back!

Manu says:

The sports establishment in India is awful: they all perform so badly at encouraging their own sports, but only use their power to harm whenever anybody threatens their monopoly. BCCI, AFI, SFI, IOA...

Ashwin Bhatnagar and me have also started running; maybe we'll catch an international marathon with you sometime. Have you met my brother Hari in the RFL? He just ran the NY marathon last month.

Swaroop says:

@Kannappan: Thanks for your comment, at least now I know this writeup has achieved its purpose :)

@all: Yes, Ultra rocked!