Hutch Delhi Half Marathon, Oct 16th, 2005. This will perhaps remain in my memory for all time to come. The day had finally come for the first test of my training, a total newcomer starting on a journey of long distance running on Aug 1st, 2005. Two and a half months of regular running had built enough confidence in me that come the day, and I will be there!
The day started of early in the morning, got up at 5:00, drank a bottle of Gatorade and ate a banana. Reached Nehru stadium (the starting and finishing point) along with my friend Vivek much in advance of the 7:45 starting time. The start was a bit sudden with a lot of people jumping over some barricades to make it to the starting point (including me), but once I was out, it got better. My guess is that about 5,500 participated in the Half marathon (assumption based on bib numbers, men and women included, but obviously, most men), though the total figure being circulated in the media ranged from 20,000 to 25,000. I guess there were a lot of participants in the 4km and 7km runs also, and so these higher numbers. It was also mentioned that 5,000 athletes were taking part, but I sincerily doubt these numbers.
The initial 10k was a breeze, and I was doing it at about a 6min/km speed, and calculations started in my mind about what would take to complete the 21K in less than 2 hours, but I calmed myself down pretty quickly, before I fell into those timing traps. I was anyway sure that I would achieve my goal of doing it within 2:30.
As the run reached Rajpath and then India gate, my legs started hurting. The last 4-5 kms were really tough, and I had to fall back on all my motivation to keep me running in the last two kms. The Nehru stadium was within my sight, but still seemed so far away! I carried on, and within no time I had crossed the finishing line in 2:12:23 to complete my first half marathon!
At the finishing point, I finally noticed about two dozen runners who looked to be mostly Kenyans (or maybe a few Ethopians as well), and it was obvious the winners were from them, as always. The winning time was 1:01:55. The best Indian made it in about 1:07.
As for my friend Vivek, he did pretty well too, finishing in a decent time of 2:41. He called me up very excited the next morning to inform me that his photo had appeared in a leading English newspaper here (The Indian Express). He is one lucky guy!