I started running 14 years ago in South Africa, but most of my running has been done here in Chandigarh, India in the last 10 years. This makes me probably one of the runners who have been at it for the longest time in this city. Hopefully, that qualifies me to say what I want to say below.
- It is beautiful. The tree-lined streets are fantastic to look at and wonderful for shade in the summer.
- Fellow-runners are friendly. It seems like half of them know me here even though I do not know everyone. It is a perk to be greeted with “Hi Stephan” and a wave so often.
- It is flat. There are only very gradual ups and downs in Chandigarh.
- If you need to run a hilly course, the Himalayas are not too far.
- It is safe compared to South Africa. Even for my daughter. As long as she stays in well-populated areas there are always eyes that watch and there is always someone willing to lend a hand if you are in trouble.
- If you want a forgiving surface, most gardens in Chandigarh and Mohali has a dirt track that you can run on.
- And there are big gardens in every sector (every kilometer or so)
- There are some trails like the one behind Sukhna lake that is awesome to run and you can even see some wildlife.
- If you carry some money you are never far from a shop where you can get cold water, soda or “chai” and anything else you may need.
- If you know where to look you will find public toilets in every sector.
- It is flat. If I want to do hill training I have to leave the city!
- The weather. The summer is long and hot. During monsoon, you will get wet – if not by rain then by sweat. In winter, it is cold and dark. Since few roads are constantly well lit and the surface is uneven, to say the least, you have to carry your own light.
- There are many races, but a lot of them are not very well organized. See last week’s post
- You have to stay alert in the traffic. If you go early morning it is usually OK. (Just be aware that traffic lights mean nothing at that time especially in Punjab) Drivers will usually not show common courtesy to a runner.
- Your selection of shoes and other running gear is limited. There are no speciality runner shops. The salesperson at the shoe counter usually cannot give any good advice about what you need.
- The public toilets you find, may not be in a condition where you would want to use them.
- Since garbage is usually in the open, there is a stench that you need to get used to when you pass one of those areas.
- Chandigarh is cleaner than most cities in India, but it is still not very clean.
- There is more than normal, healthy competition between the different running groups in the city. One group will not support races organized by the other group. I think that since this (the running group phenomenon) is still relatively new here, it will settle down.
- Even if it is relatively safe here, stalking does happen. A girl running on her own may attract the wrong kind of attention in Chandigarh.
If you wait for perfect circumstances you will never run. So let’s lace up and run the streets of this beautiful city. Let’s look for what is good and try to improve that which is bad or ugly.
Philipians 4:8 in the Holy Bible (NIV) says:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
If you are from the Tricity, please let me know if you agree or disagree or add some points in the comments!