A is for Against traffic

We started traveling to India in 2017, and as we do with every trip, we run. I was looking for a local running group, and someone from New Dehli recommended that I speak with Amit Bhatacharjee. We were running in Ahmedabad, and he could help us find some running routes and even some other runners.

WhatsApp connection

We connected with Amit on WhatsApp, and he kindly agreed to let us join their group run. At this point, I knew very little about the running community in India and had no real experience in seeing people run. I would later learn that everyone runs early in the morning. You can beat the heat and the traffic by getting up and out early! Susan and I had just arrived in India and were told that not many people run, and it was dangerous to run, so we were a little nervous when we showed up for our first morning run with the group.

Upon meeting his running crew, we learned his nickname was “Dada,” which means grandpa or elderly figure. Amit is much more than that; he is a coach, a father, and an inspiration to thousands of runners in India.

SG Highway

Our run was to start near the Sarkhej–Gandhinagar Highway. Susan and I did not know what to expect or who we would meet, so we joined with no expectations. The SG Highway is the main thorofare that goes through Ahmedabad. It is not a Freeway as we would think of it, but a five-lane highway with intersections that contain six rows of speed bumps to ensure everyone will slow down at the crossroads. Traffic goes as fast as they can and in any lane between each of these points. To the westerner, it would seem to be utter chaos. No one in their lane and everyone honking their horn. Did I mention everyone using their horn?

Against Traffic

As we arrived in our Uber, we were thrilled to see a group of at least ten runners and more coming. We met near a small cafe and finally had a group of 15 of us. Amit said we would be running “Against Traffic,” and we need to cross the highway, then run along the shoulder. Before we started running, Amit gave us a lecture on the safety of running in India and how we will stay on the shoulder. (This is the equivalent of a major highway in America). He assured us that the group would protect us, and we had nothing to worry about.

A small bump to start

We started our run by crosses a bustling intersection, and as we cross the road, we heard a screech and thud. We looked over, and a pedestrian had been hit by a car! I can only imagine what was going through Amit’s head at this point. The man seemed to have just rolled off the hood of the slow-moving car, got up, and continued walking in traffic. Fortunately, we had some doctors in our group, and they asked the man if everything was ok and apparently it was as we all started running.

Use part of the oncoming lane

As we headed into traffic, Amit told us to use part of the oncoming lane to give our group some added safety. To me, this seemed crazy, and it would lead to road rage in the United States, but it proved true in India, and cars moved out of the way as we all ran down the Highway.

Community of Runners

This post is not about running against traffic, but really about the wonderful community of runners in India and, more specifically, Amit Bhatacharjee, who has been an inspiration to me and so many other runners in India. Since our first trip five years ago, we have run with Amit on every occasion we could. Amit has also continued to invite us to races and meetups.

Please buy Mark Remy’s book “C is for Chafing”







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