Thank you Mumbai.  You are the best!

Thank you Mumbai. You are the best!

You have been warned.

Unadulterated love fest with Mumbai coming up.

So if you are averse to lots of love for one of India’s most fabulous cities, then feel free to skip this blog post.

If, however, you are happy to hear me burble on about the awesomeness of the people of Bombay – read on.

As I think you may know by now, I went to Mumbai to run in the half marathon yesterday, which I did, and thoroughly enjoyed, and even bettered my time, much to my delight.

The exuberance and crowd participation and cheering and support of the people of Mumbai were every bit as fantastic as I had been told, and I found myself actually getting emotional at times.  To have total strangers cheering and applauding you and shouting out words of encouragement as you huff and puff your way past them, is incredibly heart warming, and encouraging, and – yes – emotional.

To emerge from that fabulous Bandra Sealink in the first tentative grey light of dawn, to a street lined on both sides with cheering people, yelling themselves silly at 6.15 in the morning…yup, it was a truly fabulous moment.  I kept smiling and laughing, just because they all cheered me up so much. Sounds silly and very inexperienced (and I am a complete novice at all this running stuff, remember) but to run past people cheering and applauding you, really makes you feel as though you have achieved something…even if it is still the early stages of 21.097 km.

All along the route the people of Mumbai were there in impressive numbers.  I don’t think there was a stretch where there wasn’t someone cheering, applauding, or holding up posters and banners.

Let me shares with you a few special vignettes that I noticed, as I ran down the length of this ocean city :

– along the Bandra sea face, people standing outside their homes, holding out trays stacked with bananas and biscuits and sweets and chocolates.

– I ran past a man who had chocolate bars wedged between each finger of both hands, and he stood there holding out his offerings, and people grabbed a bar as they ran past.

– 3 tiny wee muppets on Marine Drive, still in their PJs, standing with an elderly lady in a sari, clearly granny.  The little girls were smiling and waving at the runners, their unbrushed hair and slippers proving they had been yanked out of bed early on a Sunday morning by gran, to come down and watch the marathon.

– an elderly couple in the middle of the road near Haji Ali, she in a sari, grey hair swept back in a bun, he sitting (rather incongruosly) on one of those office chairs on wheels, both holding big banners reading “Well done random stranger”. I smiled as I ran last them and they both cheered loudly and waved their random strangers banners aloft.  Brilliant.

– at the top of the Kemp’s Corner flyover I was beginning to flag, when a cheerful voice boomed through my headphones, “Come on, don’t stop now, keep running.  Come on.” And an eregetic man with a shock of silver curly hair started running next to me.  A runner, I presumed, until I saw that he wasn’t wearing a running bib, and after he had shepherded me over the crest of the flyover, he peeled off, presumably to chivvy another tired runner along.

– a young woman holding up a banner saying “Run now.  Brag later” who, when I smiled at her as I was speed walking past her, smiled back and yelled “Run” and obediently off I set again.

Oh, there are so many more moments like that, and I could enthuse for hours, but I think you have got my drift.

A fabulous city has never been more welcoming, more friendly, more laid back…it was all too too wonderful.

Cops lining the road filming us all on their mobiles.

People giving you sponges to cool down.

People singing and dancing in the street.

The navy band playing away on Marine Drive.

The elite runners – Africans to a man – loping past, preceded by a bright blue double decker bus.

As I approached those endless final metres, I actually slowed down with only 200 metres to go, and a fellow runner, a young man, shouted at me,”Come on, run” and I turned my music off, and listened to the shouting and drumming and cheering.

And cried as I crossed the finish line a whole precious minute faster than I had run in Delhi.

Mumbai, you were fabulous.

Thank you.


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