I just finished running the Mumbai half marathon (see the marathon race recap here) with only a couple of hours of sleep when a friend of mine told me about this new race in Ahmedabad. “Of course I will do it,” I said. My friend Amit Bhattacharjee knew the race organizer, and he arranged to get us bibs and t-shirts, and we were off to run another race! (The following weekend). My race recap for the Suryam marathon on the eastern outskirts of Ahmedabad. 2020 was the first year of the Suryam Marathon and consisted of a 5k, 10k, and 21k distances.
The first thing you notice when showing up for a running event in India is the participants’ enthusiasm. We have live music, selfies, food, dancing, and a warm-up Zumba Dance. How much more fun can you possibly have? Susan ran the 21k, Gavin (Son) was running the 10k, and my friend Vijay. Jan 26th is Indian Independence Day, and the excitement was in the air.
My goal for the Mumbai half was to finish in 1:59, and my goal for Suryam was 1:54. My entire 2019 season consisted of long slow runs and not much speed training. My goal for 2020 was to start with some sub-two-hour half marathons. Physically I felt good, and mentally I knew I could do it. I just had to go out and do it!
After our dancing and warm-ups, we all moved to the start line. They had organized pacers, and I lined up in front of the 2-hour pace group. (I think that was the fastest) My friend Barefoot Raj was pacing this group, and yes, he runs all his races barefoot. The course was essentially a big “H” and consisted of two out and backs then a sprint to the finish.
My goal was to hit 8:30’s and settle with a group with the same goal. By mile five, they had dropped off the pace, and I asked what their plan was. They said 1:54, and I said at this pace, I didn’t think they would hit it, so I set off on my own. I was feeling excellent, so I set my new goal at 8:20.
The sun came up, and soon the people were out lighting fires on the street, and the smoke was out! The only thing I could think was, “Why can’t they two hours until the race was over.” I ran the 2018 Mumbai Marathon, and the smog was terrible. It is a challenge to increase your pace and thus increase your oxygen needs. I can recall having some congestion in my lungs from 2018 and 2020 would be just as bad with the amount of smoke in the air.
I ran on my own until mile 11, when I met up with a group of runners. One runner came along with me, and by the amount of talking he was doing, he had a lot left in his tank. I secretly wanted to tell him that I didn’t want to talk, but I also didn’t want to be rude. The highlight of mile 12 was the car that got onto the course and drove behind me, honking their horn, wanting me to get out of their way!
In the last 800 yards, a flag carrying runner came out to meet me, and we all finished together. It was inspiring, and later the photo ended up in the newspaper.
Susan and Gavin, and I were the only white people in the race, and my son was the big star. He has the opposite hair cut as me and the opposite amount of hair! Everyone wanted a selfie with him, and it seemed every woman in the race wanted a selfie with Susan. They had jugs of hot masala tea, and I drank gallons of this!
The absolute highlight of the event was the awards ceremony. Susan won 1st place in her age group!
My time was 1:49 and I missed third place by 1 minute.
I always recommend running a race when traveling, and I can’t say better things about the community and India’s running events. It was such a great time and such a pleasure to join this race.