This Article was written as a Guest Post by Colonel K Thammayya Udupa (Retired)
I have had the privilege of participating in a few such events. Bengaluru 10K, Bengaluru Midnight Marathon, IIM Indore Half Marathons and so on and in two earlier editions of Manipal Marathon (MM).
I am particularly pleased with the manner in which the Manipal Marathon has evolved over the years.
I belong to Udupi-Manipal and I am proud of this place, but this has not colored my views when I say that MM has evolved over the years to become a Gold Standard event.
And why do I say so?
As a participant, I find it very easy to register for the event. The process of bib collection is well planned and very simple.
On Race Day, there are adequate signposts to direct me to the correct place, in the dark hours of the morning.
The pre-Race event – the warm-ups / Zumba are well organized. The place is well lit, the sound system is fabulous and there is ample space on the Manipal Greens for all such activities. The washrooms, waste receptacles and water points – all were thoughtfully planned.
The route itself is very challenging, due to the steep downhill gradient at the beginning and the steep climb at the very end of the event. Of course, the high level of humidity also takes its toll on the participants. But, the excellent organization easily make up for these challenges.
It is here that the touch of Manipal makes it a class act. How?
Firstly, the smiling and loudly cheering volunteers every few steps egg you on to put your best foot forward.
Secondly, you are never far away from a sip of water, handed out efficiently by the water team members.
Thirdly, you are never likely to get lost or to take a wrong turn. The alert volunteers are eagerly waiting to show the right way to you.
Fourthly, I have never seen such a huge army of photographers, waiting to click your pictures all along the route.
Fifthly, the energetic volunteers at the finish point are there to welcome you with ice packs should you need one.
Sixthly, I have never received a finishers medal with so much of love and such a big endearing smile by the medal volunteer. Made me feel that the run was worth it.
Seventhly, the breakfast. THE BREAKFAST! The famed Udupi hospitality coupled with the Manipal touch of class is so very energizing after 21.1 km. It is only in Manipal’s Marathon, that I have seen such sumptuous breakfast being served at the end of the race.
Eighthly, the end of race activities for young participants, like tug-of-war, carrom, photo booths and, laughter show, drums and so on, made the place cheerful and lively.
Ninthly, in spite of so, so many sponsors and ‘dignitaries’ on stage the valedictory event was crisp and purposeful.
And finally, the enthusiastic volunteers comprising of the students of MAHE were there at every nook and cranny to answer your queries and resolve any issues, with a cheerful smile.
The few issues which could probably be looked into next time
Firstly, if the flag-off time is 6.00 am, then the flag-off should happen at 6.00 AM. There was a huge electronic clock at the start point to help flag-off the event. So it should have happened as the clock showed 06:00:00, neither a second early, nor a second later. But this did not happen. Our event was flagged-off at 06:02:24. In my humble opinion, at that instant, the participant is the VIP. If some designated person to flag-off the event is late, she loses the privilege. Simple. The participants should not be made to wait.
Secondly, many of the kilometer marker standees were not at the exact kilometer. They were placed at times 200-300 meters away, probably for ease of putting them up, due to location constraints. But for the participants, it is a big negative.
On the whole, Manipal Marathon 2019 was a very memorable event. To repeat, I am proud to have participated in it and will keep talking about this to anyone who cares to listen about how well an event was managed.
Looking forward to 2020!