The Coimbatore Marathon got the city to run, and how!

Eight thousand people got out of bed at the crack of dawn that day, shrugged on their red tees, put on their running shoes and made a beeline to VOC Park. They were going to go down in the history of the city as participants of the first-ever Coimbatore Marathon in support of Coimbatore Cancer Foundation.

But when the event was first thrown open for registrations, in the first month, it received only one applicant. Then, the organisers swung into action. It was not easy, they say. Getting people to pay and run was quite a challenge. But they persisted.

Volunteers covered nearly 25,000 people in their awareness drives. They visited schools, colleges and corporates to tell them about the run. Hoardings were put up in strategic locations across the city. It began with a murmur and a passing comment here and there, but soon every one was talking only about the marathon.

Organisers say things got crazy after that. Registrations started pouring in faster than they could be keyed in. There were phone calls, e-mails and enquiries. There were times when they thought they had bitten off more than they could chew. It was not just about running. Permission and permits had to be got. If there were 8,000 people running, it meant the Police, the Corporation and local administration had to be involved. There was scepticism. Coimbatore had never seen anything of this magnitude before that involved so many people out on the streets. Would it work? Would it be safe?

It worked and it was the most exhilarating experience say seasoned runners. “It was comparable to the best in the world,” they said, and couldn’t wait for the 2014 event to come around.

The 2013 Coimbatore run included a half-marathon, besides a 10-km and a five-km run. “We want to get the city and its people used to the idea. May be, after two or three years we will consider a full marathon,” says Hari, one of the organisers.

Did you know?

Running shoes were sold out in the city before the event

Medals were specially designed for the Marathon and shipped all the way from China

The Duronto Express to Coimbatore was bursting at the seams with runners coming from Chennai

Nursing students of GKNM packed 32,000 safety pins in packs of four to be put into the running kit for each participant

Thanks to awareness drives and outreach programmes, there has been an increase in cancer-screening camps

No pharmaceutical or drug companies were approached or accepted as sponsors

Many underprivileged runners were sponsored by corporates