It is 4 am on a Sunday morning and as you approach the Kasturba Nagar MRTS station, you see an eclectic mix of IT professionals, middle-aged men and women, homemakers and business owners sporting similar T-shirts and warming up. It is the day of the famous Wipro Chennai Marathon, one of the most looked forward event in the city. Over the last few years it has been attracting a large number of enthusiasts across age-groups. The Wipro Chennai Marathon hosts three race categories – the full marathon (42.195 Km), half marathon (21.1 Km) and the ever popular 10K (10 Km) race. All three events have the same registration fee and all runners will be given a goody bag with a running T-shirt, running bib (with timing chip), finisher’s medal and a breakfast tuck box.
This is not the only one. Over the last couple of years, the city has witnessed a spurt in marathons and runs. Be it the Dusk to Dawn Chennai Night Marathon, Pinkathon franchisee, Dream Runners Half Marathon, Mirchi Holi run or the upcoming G3 Duathlon. While fitness and the idea of running is at the heart of these marathons, many of them also associate themselves with charitable causes or intend to create awareness about a particular social issue. “The Dream Run Half Marathon is organised every year to promote the ideas of health and wellness among people, besides donating the proceeds to a charitable cause,” says Dinesh Victor, trustee, Dream Runners. They also train people who want to run marathons by having camps months in advance. Similarly the Pinkathon, held in June 2016, encourages participants to raise money, which is donated directly to the Women’s Cancer Initiative in Mumbai, as well as other NGO’s across the country. Dusk to Dawn Chennai Night Marathon intends to create awareness about worthy issues and raise money for underprivileged children.
Apart from the social causes espoused by the marathons, it is the idea of ‘running’ that has got Chennaiites hooked. It is now fairly common sight to find both young and old jogging around in parks, beaches and apartment complexes, early in the morning. Gyms and yoga classes are teeming with people who want to get ‘running fit’.
It is also interesting how the ‘culture of running’ is helping people bond. Every year, there is sizeable increase in groups from IT companies and corporate offices running together. They practise together prior or post office hours weeks before the event. Many families have grandparents running along with their grandchildren or cousins planning months in advance about how to complete a particular marathon.
With almost a new marathon or run being added to the city’s calendar every year, it is only safe to say Chennai loves to run!