I had a unique marathon experience with the Daily World marathon. My story starts at the Patiala marathon where I was a pacer. The kilometer markings were incorrectly placed and it contributed to me finishing almost 15 minutes ahead of schedule. For a pacer, that is BAD. So I complained about it.

Dharminder was the head organizer for this. Some of us have been encouraging him to do a marathon in Chandigarh. So the Daily World newspaper pulled in Dharminder to help them organize and Dharminder asked if I could help. But I wanted to run, so the only job that would finish the day before the time is placing the kilometer markings. Complaining usually backfires!

About three weeks ago, Dharminder asked me to oversee the measuring of the route. So some guys came with a measuring wheel and we measured it with one person at the back of a bike running the wheel on the road. Something must have gone wrong since the turn-around point came out a lot nearer than we thought it would be.

So I decided to measure it again. Only this time, I would do it on foot. That morning I ran the BigFM half marathon and came in 7th overall with a time of 1:26. That evening I took the wheel and measured the first half of the marathon out-and-back route. I had a can of spray paint in my backpack and marked every kilometer until I realized that I will probably run out of paint and from then on I marked only every 5k. It took me 3 hours with lots of walking when the road was uneven or when the legs demanded it. And yes, it turned out that I was right. The first measurement was about 900m out on 21k!

So yesterday was the big day for the placement of the kilometer markers. Common sense says that you have to stay off your feet as much as possible the day before running a marathon. It also makes sense to go to bed early the day before. I initially planned to start late so that our markers would hopefully remain undisturbed until the next morning. Luckily there was news that the police will be patrolling the route so it would be safe to start earlier. We decided to start at 4:30 PM and that was too late…

I had to drop my daughter at the Church music practice, but it did not happen so she decided to go along. We had two students also, Jatin and Aakash, the driver of the small truck and the person who work for the guy who got the stands made. We had to first load the truck and realized that we can fit only the full marathon markers onto the truck so we would have to do another round for the half marathon and the 5k.

I was armed with two Garmin GPS watches and my phone with low battery – one of my mistakes was not to get that charged sufficiently. So off we went. My daughter says it is like the most boring road trip she ever took. Every kilometer we stop. We all get out. The door of the truck has a special trick to get it open. Then we decide where would be the best place to put the marker. The students grab the right one and our handyman secure it against a pole or on the ground. Then back in the truck, start the GPS and repeat … and repeat.

The only respite was when we looked for my markings on the road which we found and it helped us to make some small corrections.

When we were done with the 42k and the 5k we went back on our tracks to do the remaining half of the half marathon. (The first 10k was the same as for the full marathon) There we realized that our 38 was gone. The next morning I saw that that wasn’t all. 7 and 13 and maybe some others were gone and probably recycled.

I got to bed at 12:30 and had to get up again at 3. At 5 I was at the starting line. It went well and I improved my PB to 3:23 and came first in my age category. 17th overall out of 125 finishers. Oh yeah, and I qualified for the Boston Marathon. (which is what I set out to do even though I will not go) All Glory to my Friend.

Daily World, please make this a yearly event! It is great to have our own marathon again. Thanks for making it a good first one.

Keep running
Stephan

P.S. Just for the sake of keeping the record of it: last week my other daughter (14-year-old) went with me to Delhi. I was second in the Gurugram half marathon and she was first in the 10.55k race.

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