They say "Running is not a habit, it is a religion” but for some, it is beyond this as well. It's a self-assurance that you are living it as long as you are running, that you are reinventing yourself with every mile crossed.
Something of a similar energy was sensed at this year's PRBM. The arena was set: Balewadi Stadium. The roar of the spectators heightened, and as the runners of the elite PRBM 2017 took off, a breath of hope let out. That hope was of kissing the finish line in desired time, that hope was seeing someone close making a mark, that hope was achieving a new self-confidence and purpose in life. That hope of outrunning the past self for a better being is called PRBM- Pune Running Beyond Myself.
It was a warm Sunday morning of November 19th. Runners and their supporters gathered at the Balewadi Stadium, the ambience was quite infectious with music and Zumba sessions (arranged by Fitastic) going on. The whole atmosphere felt young, throbbing with energy- people as old as above 60 years were seen setting shining examples for the youth who were equally fired up and there was no turning away.
A passionate zeal was seen in the eyes of 62 years old, Milind Joshi who is a routine runner by habit. He took up running about 4 years ago and has never stopping ever since. Joshi is a CEO of his startup Tradex who ran his first 21k in the PRBM this year.
With the young and the grey positioned on their marks, the incredible PRBM strode off at 5:00 am. As the full marathoners pulled out, the half marathon followed at 6:00 and the 10k, 5k, 3k at 7 am, 8 am, and 8:30 am respectively.
Sunday was not lazy that day. A diverse bunch of participants had run through the Pune lanes as the sun dawned on the city and by diverse we not only mean in age and gender but in capability as well. Physically disabled and visually impaired runners were also among the PRBM heroes. And that’s the unique quality of a marathon - running for self, meeting the strenuous distance to arouse the receding inner strength, and proving that if not everything: I can do a marathon.
21 k runner, Amey Pachpande is a 17-year old young boy who understands the need to stay fit and live a healthy lifestyle. Currently studying in the 12th grade, Amey took up running when he was in school and from then there is no looking back. As said by him, Amey makes it a point to run at least for 1 hour daily. He says that running has become a vital part of his daily life and that if he doesn't run a day, he feels low on energy and spirit for the rest of day. Then there was Girisha Nimbalkar who challenged herself to the 10k race. She is no ordinary woman, an Inspector in the CID department, Girisha Nimbalkar took up running as a serious passion due to her health and because of her profession demands. She has now made a point to participate in a marathon, once in a month.
A common streak seen in most of the runners was that although the running may have started as a coping mechanism or a conscious decision, the level of commitment is applaudable! So much so that people make time out of busy corporate schedule to invest in a mandate daily run.
If serious bikers on massive Harley Davidsons flagged off the 10K race then a troop of cute children played a band at the onset of the 5K run. The Marathi Film industry was also present to stimulate the PRBM runners. The cast of “Faster Fene” was much involved in encouraging marathoners and later congratulating them as they handed the prizes and medals.
And as we describe the whole PRBM experience, it will be unfair to not mention the PRBM organizers at this point. The entire marathon experience came through because of their able organization and management skills. There were pacers helping the marathoners covering the distance in the best time. Medical help and hydration centres were installed at various points quite strategically along the run route. Volunteers were there at various points to manage traffic. However, post-event there were some complaints with regards to T-shirt sizes and quantity of breakfast provided and some traffic and parking management issues near the statdium. Overall, there seemed to be general satisfaction with the way the marathon was conducted. The race was overall as it wrapped by 11 am.
Aside from experienced runners, there were a couple of first-timers as well who could be identified by their nervous looks and shiny running shoes. A few even got sick halfway through- well nobody said that PRBM would be easy. On another note, if the beginners arrived in complete running gears, then some of the veterans were seen taking on another challenge- running the PRBM barefoot! A trend which is made popular by the Indian iconic marathoner, Milind Soman and Pune's own Pravin Zele who smashed the Guinness World Record for the title “Most Barefoot Half Marathon” earlier in August this year. There were a handful of other runners also going barefooted on the streets of Pune in the name of PRBM.
All in all, it was a runtastic event. And as all good things must come to an end, the PRBM marathon carnival also concluded on a high note. As the PRBM challengers made back to the Balewadi stadium the crowd went berserk with joy and pride. Their cheers gave the runners the extra morale boost to complete the last but the toughest metres of the race. The rock-solid determined ones put in their absolute best to emerge victorious.
What a performance!
The after party was a phase of rejoicing and applause. Runners, upholding the participation spirit, were seen congratulating one another while families basked at their glories. The whole atmosphere was overcome by love and empathy and forged some new friendships and runnerhoods.
O, the things running can do!
Well for the time PRBM has only hit the pause button, see you next year with triple more enthusiasm and passion. Until next time #keep running to #Outrunyourself!