If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. And once you have run enough marathons - organize one. That truly is a life changing experience.
Run Forrest Run
Yes, we run Marathons everywhere - Bhatti Mines (go Google it!), Shimla, Bangalore and the streets of Delhi, Mumbai and Gurgaon. But the idea of organizing a marathon never crossed our minds until Pankaj Wadhwa of Himjoli appeared.
The motivation was simple. Chirag, a local charity in Mukteshwar runs a school and they needed some help with the fundraising. Could we help them raise money? And so the Mukteshwar Marathon was born over cuppas of coffee in the company of like-minded people. After all, aren’t folks always keen to run for a reason! In this case, they would be running at 2200 meters above sea level.
More Than A Day’s Work
Like I said, the idea was a simple one but executing it was a different job all together. It required the ability to pull off a website, do promotions, take permissions and get marketing and fundraising done in addition to putting a whole range of logistics together. Fast forward 3 months, it’s the fifth day of May 2013 and the marathon is actually happening. There is a huge flex welcome banner, people are pouring in for the run, everything is set and in place. It’s time for the flag off.
In the 3 months that I quickly fast-forwarded, we did everything that it takes to execute the marathon thanks to Pankaj, Anurag and the whole team of Chirag. We launched a website, asked for registrations, got permissions in place, did the route planning, organized everything including banners, posters, bibs and goodie bags etc.
The Kick Off
The Mukteshwar Marathon had two categories - Half Marathon (21kms) and Fun Run (5kms). Our theme was - Run at 2200 metres above sea level and run to help educate kids. The bib collection was organized a day before the marathon. We also organized a Kumaoni song and dance by the local school kids on the same day to bring a cultural flavour in to the event.
For a lot of people from the plains, Mukteshwar is a secret hideaway in the hills far from the madding crowds. It is a one horse town about 50 kms away from Naintal that on a clear day offers some breathtaking views of Nanda Devi. So if your idea of a holiday is to go out on lovely walks, watch the mist play hide and seek and enjoy chai and samosa, then Mukteshwar is the place to be.
On 5th May 2013, 7:30 am was the flag off time. Aid stations were all set with Gatorade, biscuits, water and all the good things that runners like. The volunteers were in position. As soon as Vihan waved off the green flag, 150 runners who had came from all over the country sprung to action in one of the toughest runs in India. The running route had some really mean looking climbs. Our advice to all the runners was: Take it easy and take breaks to smell the flowers.
All For One, One For All
We runners always knew that running connects people like how! But to see the way the Mukteshwar Marathon connected the natives, visitors, volunteers and the local administration to the love of running was simply amazing.
Three months before the event, this was just an idea. None of us had a clue on what it takes to organize a marathon. So, it was even more special to see it actually happen. It is like your idea has come to life and so many people all across the country have contributed to it. But none of this would have been possible if MakeMyTrip, B2r.in and Sure wave media had not supported us so generously.
For us Mukteshwar Marathon connected the twin love for mountains and running thanks to Himjoli Baba (as Pankaj Wadhwa is affectionately called). Now that the idea has finally taken shape and been received so well, we will be back with a bang in 2014.