Allow me brag about my PB @ Auroville fist.. I finished my Seventh full marathon with a timing of 4:25:27 and that is my personal best. Now that I have gotten it off my chest.. let me come to the 'rest of the stroy'.
Second Auroville Marathon that I participated in Auroville last Sunday was perhaps the best marathon I have been part of (participated in 11 so far). I am not saying this because I did my personal best, but because of the overall experience. The organizers though are new to this game did a commendable job doing the event and bettered themselves from last year.
This marathon had more participation than last year, yet was manageable. I understand there were about 400+ runners in all and 50+ participated in full.
Though, I would have liked to run one big loop and not repeat the same route again, I kind of liked the route in Auroville because it enabled me to have some company for most part. This helped me keep myself going and get others to keep going as well.
Another important piece Auroville experience is how the community comes together to run the event and done by volunteers organized in a very loose fashion. This collective support of the community is one critical factor for the success of the Auroville Marathon. Be it the various water points or the massages after the run or the salt water soaking pits.. Volunteers made the difference. They were courteous, polite and eager to help. Thanks guys.. you made the difference..
We had two Vans leave from Chennai. One with the Hyderabad Runners from Chennai Central and another one from Dimensions. This is the team that left from Dimensions. (Photo: RV Ramani)
After race pack distribution, We had a good pasta dinner. It had a good spread and was filling. Importantly, it was priced right.. Rs. 90 only.. so all us pigged out.
We were put up in various dorms spread across Auroville Campus. I was in a dorm next to Matri Mandir with bunch of runners from Bangalore. It was bare essentials only nevertheless comfortable and convenient. See the bed with bib # 27 ? that was mine.
We had Van transport us to the starting point at 4:30 AM. That was good because it was pitch dark and we had no clue as to where the starting point 'Certitude' was.
Barring a couple of kms, most of the run was thru narrow trails in the (not so thick) forest and that is one of the USP of Auroville Marathon. Though it was dark when we started, the route was clearly marked and was easy to navigate. (Photo: Karthik Vijaykumar)
Decent breakfast after the run.. See the guy with BIB # 7 ? He is Balaji, one of the Chennai Runners. This guy camped in Auroville for two weeks to work with the organizers to make the event successful. Thanks Balaji.. you unbound energy and willingness to jump in really made a difference.
Massage after the gruelling run was great. This combined with the salt water soaking pits went a long way in recovery.
This is another reason why this marathon was special to me. Thanks to Hari & Venkat's initiative Chennai Runners helped a bunch kids from Sagroli participate in the marathon. These kids traveled all the way from Nanded,Maharashtra to Pondy to run. And listen to this.. they were in the top 3 in most of the events conducted (full, half, quarter etc.,). I am glad Chennai Runners were able to play a small part in getting these kids to Auroville.. Way to Go Kids..
Here is the last few seconds of my finish.. (Video: Venkat Rangan)
In all, it was good a good run.. and I enjoyed. Like anything else, there is always room for improvement. Two areas organizers could improve are: 1) Registration 2) Rack Pack distribution. Registration was fragmented leading to some confusion and last minute fire drills. This could have been avoided by a single window on-line registration. Similarly, race pack collection should be done in a phased manner and not clubbed with the Pasta dinner. This would help avoiding the last minute rush.
More pictures in flickr