I love running anywhere I go. I also love running races here in India. But there are certain things that are rather annoying. Comment if you agree. Maybe some things can be changed if organizers read this.
Starting on time
It rarely happens that races start exactly on time. The bigger races tend to be better. I have waited for 45 minutes once. Since races usually happen on Sunday mornings and I love to go to church after the race, this sometimes causes me to abandon the race even before it starts.
In Shimla, I ran 27k instead of 25k because there was no volunteer at a T-junction. In Dehradun, I waited for the next runner and then we asked somebody which way we are supposed to go. Luckily I lost only a few minutes. On another occasion, I was convinced we have to turn, but the cyclist volunteer with me said I am wrong. For once I was right and went probably 500m in the wrong direction. My instinct about which direction to turn is usually dead wrong.
There is almost always some oversight; especially in the small races. Today I think about 10 runners turned left at a volunteerless T-junction where they should have turned right. I know how they feel… I recently became smarter. I studied the route beforehand and made sure I know it.
In India, a race is not a race if there aren’t
- T-shirts for all participants (I already have too many)
- Snacks afterward (Juice: good. biscuits: bad. banana: good. plain lassi: if sweet, I could probably stomach it)
- An organized warm-up session, usually in the form of Zumba or a trained gym instructor. (It is loud, it is awkward since the movements demanded are mostly out of my comfort zone. For me a good warm-up is a run, what else?!)
- A guest of honor and other dignitaries (who often arrives late and makes the race start late)
- Timing chip technology (No problem with it, except that it is expensive)
- Certificates of completion for everyone (I usually skip this.)
All of these things are optional in my opinion. They make the races expensive and hard to organize. On the other hand, there are certain things that go the opposite way.
Some non-negotiables are sometimes absent or bad quality
- Medals. The cheap ones rust or fade.
- Bibs. They get soaked and fall off. My number was swinging by one safety-pin today before I noticed. In the previous race, it dropped off so I had to turn around and get it (otherwise I could not get snacks or medal or well… certificate)
- Sports-drink. There usually aren’t any. It is water and usually not cold either.
- Toilets. Don’t laugh. Before the race today I had to jog 2k to a public washroom before the race started. Do you guys agree that this is non-negotiable?
You finish and there is no-one
This is one of the worst things for me here. The lack of support from spectators. Usually, runners support each other during the race and that is great. But, you hardly find anyone on the sidelines clapping or cheering. And then when you reach the end nobody even notices. You wander around looking for the place to pick up your medal (Why not give runners their medals as they cross the line?)
Most of us love the encouragement and the appreciation. Don’t you? We need to do something about this, my fellow-runners… Let’s all go back to the finish line after our run and clap, cheer, shout, whistle for the runners who finish. Today was an exception. Great job, Chandigarh Distance Runners!
Sorry, if this is a bit negative. I will consider another post about the things that I enjoy about running in India.