August 31, 2008

Marg Chennai Marathon - Organizers need to first get Educated on Running!

Organizing a running event is not like organizing a mela! Its not about colorful balloons and celebrity speeches. Its not about hoardings and advertisements. Its about dedicated understanding of the sport - Inside Out.

Marg Chennai Marathon organization is like selling an expensive car without any after-sales support and service! The organizers got sponsors, advertised really well, reached every school in the city, reached every household. But they miserably failed to concentrate on the actual event - The Run!

Based on inputs and observations, here are some reasons for the failure of the event -
  1. Starting time was really really late - 6:45AM is NOT the time to start a 21kilometer run in the Chennai weather - It was humid and hot
  2. Political and Celebrity intervention was unnecessary - It just increased the support ecosystem to get them safely to the event start point
  3. There were no enough water stations during the course of the run - Its a best practice to have water stations for every 2 kilometers (atleast!)
  4. Water stations were too crowded - they were literally like swarmed beehives!
  5. Water stations had nothing other than water - Its best practice to have other energy drinks and fruits, to say the least
  6. Organizers' support ecosystem was absent towards the end of the three-hour period
  7. Certificates were missing!
  8. There were no refreshments available for runners at the finish point - water is the least they should have
Doing the following could've made things better -
  1. The celebrities could've cheered to the crowd over a video conference showcased on a large screen
  2. Started the half-marathon at 5:30AM
  3. Have water stations for every 2 kilometers
  4. Water stations should've been well manned by people who were associated with this sport (running)
  5. Stocked water stations with fruits andenergy drinks
  6. Sought the sponsorship of energy sports drink companies
  7. Provided proper certificates for participants
NDTV 24X7 and the organizers made a bold claim that this event might've pulled more than a lakh participants - This is good marketing! Remember - QUALITY IS BETTER THAN QUANTITY! Number of runners DOESN'T matter. Event quality DOES matter!

The other claim was that Chennai Marathon was bigger than Delhi and Mumbai. In my opinion (and so would many of my fellow long-distance runners would say), this is NOT EVEN CLOSE to any other running event in the country. Recently, the Hyderabad Runners organized a marathon. It was one of the well organized marathons of recent times. They did not concentrate on marketing, but on the event organization. We at Chennai Runners have been doing ECR Runs every two months. We've never had a problem till date. Our participants have always enjoyed every bit of it.

Mumbai marathon has chip-based timing, medals and certificates, is one of The Greatest Race On Earth, good crowd supprt, amazing number of water points with well stocked sports nutrients. Did Marg Chennai Marathon have even one of this properly?

The list can go on for ever. But the request I'd like to make to any running event organizer is -
For God's sake, PLEASE STOP CONDUCTING RUNNING EVENTS FOR CHARITY OR ANY OTHER PURPOSE. You can associate a run with a charity, but not a charity with a run. PLEASE DON'T RUIN THE SPORT EVEN BEFORE IT STARTS IN CHENNAI.


My request to the kith and kin of aspiring runners -
Please DO NOT discourage your loved ones from running. The accident that happened today in the Marg Chennai Marathon was due to mismanagement and can also be due to the runner's lack of knowledge on running. Running is absolutely safe and very good when practiced and trained with guidance. Our country and our city has the potential to produce champion runners.


Keep Running! It's Fun!
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