The seamless way that a world-class athletic event takes over Mumbai’s busy streets and then vanishes, leaving no trace, may seem magical. But the event itself is a sprint compared to the endurance race that is the months of preparation.
Procam works with 16 partners, including title sponsor Tata (the deal is worth ₹30 crore for 10 years). The United Way runs all the coordination with charities, from registrations to setting up find-raising web pages to coordinating with charities to highlight their causes. ASICS, sporting goods partner, helps runners prepare with gait analysis. When the race is on, an app created by TCS gives runners and their supporters information about the race and updates their progress and Seiko is responsible for the race timing. Bisleri, hydration partner, ensures enough water is available, and Asian Heart Institute takes care of all medical needs. Post-race, Nestle gives nutrition packs, and Volini runs a recovery zone where runners get massages and help with niggles common after a strenuous run.
For this year, preparations for race day started in August. “We have to get permissions and clearances, file paperwork and plan with several civic agencies,” a Procam spokesperson said. “We liaise with up to 30 different government bodies, including the BMC, Navy, police, traffic police and the coast guard. Our registration teams get busy handling registrations and vetting applications.”
Two weeks before the race, former Olympian Hugh Jones — a highly respected figure in the road-running world, who consults on measuring courses for several races around the world — does the final route measurement. On the Wednesday before race day, work will begin on the holding area and control centres at Azad Maidan.
At 10 p.m. on Saturday, the 3,000 on-ground personnel will be briefed and given dinner. The road barricades and aid stations will go up shortly after midnight; then, at around 3 a.m., the workers and volunteers will fan out. Some will join more than 2,000 Mumbai Police personnel to work on security. Other teams will staff medical aid stations, provide hydration and post-race nutrition, take care of dope-testing, manage celebrities and VIPs, and take care of medal distribution.
From a makeshift control room near the finish line Procam’s core team will monitor everything from the moment the first runners come to the holding area until the last one leaves Azad Maidan. Their eyes will be glued to feed from CCTV cameras and they will murmur into walkie-talkies and cellphones (and back-up cellphones).
By 12.30 p.m., the last successful runners will have completed the race; stragglers will be picked up by sweeper buses. Then it’s the turn of the last group of workers: one set will collect the litter of the race, the other will take down temporary structures.
Another successful Mumbai Marathon will have crossed the finish line.
One task will be left: on Sunday evening, the team will host the champions’ dinner for the elite runners and their partners. Then they will rest.