For most of the people residing in or around the national capital, running has been an activity of personal interest, of trying to keep oneself fit, and to destress the mind from the monotonous routine which we follow at our workplaces, an attempt to get some color and variety in life.
Running (or for that matter jogging) has also been mostly a passion which has been practiced at an individual level, doing a few of laps around your apartment complex, a nearby park, or for those fortunate enough, in or around a sports complex or stadium. What has often caught my attention is the fact that is not very often that you see more than the lone runner on the road. Why do we prefer to do our runs alone, when we would like to have company for other activities like playing soccer, tennis, or other games. Obviously, those games cannot be played alone, but do they not indicate a fondness amongst us for good company?
Running, I believe, remains an individual passion for a large populace simply because of, or due to, the lack of opportunities we get to meet like minded people at the right time and right place and who share our interests. I think there is nothing better than a group to fire you up and get you motivated to do that run you are so fond of. Organization remains a key to develop that group, and which appears to be the “missing ingredient” which can bring in more fun in the lives of the Delhi running community.
My experience over the years from reading about and understanding the running scenario in India indicates that given good leadership, and proper organization and dedication, this difficult goal can be achieved. Bangalore remains a good example to illustrate, where the Runners for Life group has promoted running at the grassroots level, and which has resulted in people from across Bangalore coming up with running groups, and benefiting from it. They recently organized the Bangalore Ultra marathon and believe me, getting 300+ people to an ultra event in a city like Bangalore is no small achievement.
Delhi has been a laggard in this aspect for some time now. No formal running clubs or groups. And if there are some, very little awareness about them in the public. Which means, the groups remain more or less the same size over the years, gaining some and losing some. However, I expect the things to change for the better in the days to come.
The Running and Living group, founded by Rahul Verghese, is one such small step to take the passion of running in the NCR to the next level. Starting from a single group in Gurgaon, running together in the Leisure Valley area, this group has spread to different locations of the NCR, East Delhi, West Delhi, Delhi Universitey, Indirapuram, Sarita Vihar, Noida and more. I think this may be part of the small revolution spreading almost unnoticeably through the common folks in Delhi. They have been organizing runs of 5K, 10K and 15K distances over the last few months at multiple locations, and on Dec 7th, they will be organizing the 1st Running and Living Half marathon in Gurgaon. These events may not be at the scale of the recently concluded Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, but they give an entirely different experience in the form of running as small well-connected, similarly motivated communities. I guess I can call it Running with Friends.
For references on running in Delhi NCR, check out the below links.
Running and Living website: http://runningandliving.com
Delhi Runners google group: http://groups.google.com/group/delhirunners
Running and Living google groups: