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The VIM 2018 earns 7 Stars

What do you call it when it ticks all the right boxes & what turns out is a blockbuster. The 7th edition of Vadodara International Marathon (VIM) on 7th January called itself the 7-star Marathon. Deservingly, because this one was a near flawless event.

This was his first event, not having participated in any HM earlier. But he assured me that he has been practicing long for this one, as he wanted the FM to be his first event. Though not as fast as Shital, he was also too fast for my liking & I wished him best for the run & slowed down to a comfortable (for me) pace. Later, looking at the timing website I found that this other Ashish in FM category had not crossed the 3rd the time check. If you plan to run the FM in future, give your body enough time to get used to running long distances. (Yes, you will always get some running gyan on this blog.)

Crossing the Vishwamitri bridge, we came to Akshar Chowk where Rakesh Rawat turned up. Rakesh, we all know, runs for four things. When he doesn’t run, as in this VIM, he volunteers. He was also handling a camera this time. He is a very good runner & an equally committed volunteer. Sadly, he is not a good low-light photographer. Don’t know why Reni abandoned this post.

By this time the fastest of the HM runners were speeding past me. Just after crossing HCG Cancer Centre, the 2:00 hr bus of Rajesh Tiwari sped ahead. I ran after him & jokingly requested to let me aboard. He got the shock of his life seeing me with him & only his sturdy heart saved him. With HCG right behind, pls be assured that this was not putting him at any risk. But this was just a joke & I let the bus go without me.

I heard my name being called out just before Manisha Circle. Looking behind, it turned out to be Sachin Parikh, out walking (he would have found it quite warm compared to the weather back in Canada, where he lives). A quick hug was all I had time for, this being the maiden long one. But he is here in Baroda this week only & I need to catch up with him one of these days.

As I mentioned, the 10K runners were all over OP Road & the cops had a tough time managing the traffic. They were firm in standing up to the aggressive crowd. In fact, the traffic was very well managed at the VIM this time. Nowhere else, except Rajkot, have I found it managed as well. Only if they are able to manage it even half as well during normal days, driving on Baroda roads would not be so dreadful & stressful.

Turning left from Old Padra Road, we move to low traffic areas. In fact, there is sparsely any traffic after Nilamber Circle till the Gotri-Sevasi Road. And practically none after we turned right towards Chandan multiplex. After Chandan, the road has large green tracts on both sides. Forget vehicles, one doesn’t even come across a human except some fellow runners. And the volunteers at the turnaround point. Piyush Kunal offered me whatever I wanted, subject to permissibility under the dry laws. I already had my bottle of water & declined his offer, cursing the prevailing law. But the ill will is momentary, for the route enchants the runner in me. The sun was already up by this time but there was no hint of heat, the weather being so cold. The route this edition was wonderful & hope VIM sticks to this one for all subsequent events.

We turn left upon reaching Sevasi-Gotri Road to return back to civilization. Traffic is still sparse. Volunteers are still there at the turn with the provisions. But Nikky Joshi is no longer seen. Maybe, he was too tired after the hectic last few days bringing up the event. And it is still lonely. There were a couple of runners ahead of me who I soon overtook. It is now around 10 KM (after crossing Decathlon the first time round) that I have been running with very few runners in sight. I am still going at a 07:00 min pace & feel (apart from lonely) this can be maintained for quite some time. Running along, a cyclist comes along & turns out to be Nikki. Unlike the previous editions, the volunteers this time were at their posts till the end. And not just Nikky or Piyush,

Now we turn right towards Nilamber circle. It feels closer to the finish now. A little ahead a guy is running backwards. I have seen many people running backwards or sideways in the midst of their runs. But this one just keeps going on in this fashion & I am convinced that this is his preferred style. And I wonder why he doesn’t wear his Bib on his front, which is actually his back. I mean, he had put his Bib on the chest but he was running backwards & it should have been on the other side. Later, I was told he did the entire FM running backwards. I think he did this so that he could count the no of runners who overtook him & be sure of his position even before the updated results are put up on the timing partner’s website. Coming to think of it, if someone runs backwards throughout should his/her splits be always considered negative? Also, I think the route for such runners should be from finish to start so that they appear normal to the others!!

I got a few calls on the mobile this time. The first one to do so was my good friend RK Menon. I opted not to receive it. He called again & when I picked it up (thinking it would be something urgent) he asks “kidhar pahucha”. It was just 25 KM & I was still feeling strong & gave him a straight answer. Had he been an hour or more later, it would have been a real nasty one. We haven’t met post VIM & when we do so, the first thing I will ask him is why did he ask that question. As I neared Nilamber circle, I got a call from the wife, who had completed her HM, asking me the same thing. She was lucky too. Lucky, because she also got a straight answer. But not lucky enough as, she informed me, the HM runners were being refused ORS on the way because it was being preserved for the FM guys. Later, at home, she informed that almost all the hydration points were handing out only water to the HMers, keeping the ORS & oranges for the FMers. The 02:45 HM pacer, Dina Patel, was totally pissed off with this & discarded her flag mid run. It is a good thing to not let the provisions run out when those doing the FM come around, for they need it the most. But not refusing to support the HM runners. This was the only shortcoming of this edition.

Its over 35 KM now & I am not in a very good shape. Walk breaks have begun. The runs are at a pace of over 07:45. The walk breaks keep getting longer. It is hurting more. There are some 2/3 runners who got ahead when I took a walk break. When they do so, I get ahead. All are in the same boat. During one of these walks, a group of armymen runs past. I pull myself up & start running, keeping up with them for some time. Which exacerbates the pain. The knee hurts badly when stretched. Even when I walk. A little after 38 KM, I stopped tracking. I will walk rest of the way & still finish much before the cut off time.

I was already on the OP road. The traffic is still being managed for the event. I recall the previous year, when some of us runners (Reni, Nishant, Harjeet, Ajay) positioned ourselves under the Fatehganj overbridge to stop the traffic when the FM runners passed by. But nothing like that this time round. Take a bow, team VIM. A car slowed down as it crossed me. It was Rajiv Bhatia along with Mr. Onkar Singh. I had my water & didn’t need the fruits & they went ahead. They were still on the job. Reni zoomed past & stopped a little ahead, bringing out his camera. I ran a bit as he took the pictures. Running photos ke liye kuchh bhi karunga!!

Crossed OP Road at Tube company junction. The traffic is stopped as I approach, but I can only walk. I go past Classic Tea, but there is no one hanging around & missed a cup of tea with friends. I cross the Gateway hotel & am almost near the finish. And soon I am at the Akota-Dandia Bazaar bridge. Reni arrives on his bike, egging me on. At the top of the bridge the finish point comes into view. It is still some way away. As I get to the other side of the bridge, the runner a little ahead of me is getting directions from a guy in the car. I reach there & the car stops to guide me to the finish. It turned out to be Dr. Nagesh Kamat, who runs ultras when life gets a bit boring & today's 04:50 FM pacer. Another biker has joined the runner in front, who is also only able to walk. I am joined by Reni. And I realize I have miscalculated the cut off time by around 15 minutes. But I am so close to the finish that I will make it. And I did. There are no runners around, except Hiral. A short chat with him & I get into the medical center for some much-needed stretching. It took some time to find a vacant bed, for all the runners were inside. The guy did a good job & I felt, except for a painful knee, much better. I came out with the medal still round my neck.

This post first appeared on Run, Fun, Etc., please read the originial post: here

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The VIM 2018 earns 7 Stars


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