On a lazy Sunday morning, thousands had gathered at Napier Bridge for the Wipro Chennai Marathon. As early as 4 a.m., many started walking to the venue and in the next few hours, hordes of people arrived in batches for the marathon.
From disabled people to first-time runners, this year’s marathon saw an array of people participating with enthusiasm.
S. Sankara Raman, a 53-year-old with muscular dystrophy from the NGO Amar Seva Sangam, said he considered this marathon a chance to spread awareness of the need to treat disabled people with respect and provide equal opportunities.
“In 2004, we were denied participation in a marathon in Mumbai. A year later after a great battle, we took part in a marathon for the first time. By being a part of this, we want to say that we are also part of mainstream society and should be allowed to participate in everything,” he says.
R. Uma, a working professional from Kotturpuram and a first timer, said, “It is often boring when you always run or walk alone. Once in a while, when you do it with so many and for a good cause, it is indeed a wonderful experience.”
Deepa Bharatkumar, secretary of Chennai Runners, one of the organisers, says there has been a 25 per cent increase from the last time. “In December, owing to the demise of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and then subsequently, Cyclone Vardah, the marathon had to be rescheduled. It was a pleasant surprise to see such a huge crowd,” she said adding that there was also quite a number who ran for charity this time.
The marathon covered 42 km criss-crossing various areas of the city. Apart from the full marathon, many ran half (covering 21.1 km) and a 10-km run.