Getting up at 2 am is never fun! That too after having had a long evening the day before taking kids to the garba dance performances, and then a late night dinner with friends, that too outside of city boundaries since the city municipal corporation says you need to close restaurants by 11 pm!
Anyways, with just an hour of sleep in my bag, I got up groggy-eyed (more like, sand in my eyes!) at 2 am to run the inaugural edition of the Tarblazer full marathon, on the morning of 6th Oct 2019. Tarblazer has been happening for several years, but this is the inaugural edition of their “full marathon” event.
I have done Tarblazer in the previous years too. In fact, the cartoonish, graffiti-like artwork on the last year’s tee-shirt was fun…my little daughter would always make it a point to locate some small silly detail like a dog, or a food item, in there every time I would put on that tee shirt. And I had two of them since V decided not to wear it (that was her first Tarblazer 10k though, and she faired quite well!). Yet another reason last year’s Tarblazer will forever be etched in my memory is I had met Mahesh Parihar and his wife after the event. I had remembered offering him lift back home but he was joining another runner friend back. The dear runner left us for heavenly above later in 2018, and we won’t bump into him in future races. My gut still curdles at the thought L
Anyways, coming back to this sleep deprived run! I got ready for the run – the clothes and the kit were laid out the night before – and ordered the Uber. I reached on time…around 4 am. The flag off was to be at 4:30 and that was delayed to 4:45. Shashi was making announcements of the route and turns and loops (3 of them!) which I didn’t follow since I have never run in Bandra West. My plan for the race was to do a Comrades qualifier run…try and finish in 4:49 hours. I was going to take the first half very slow at 2:30 and then push a bit in the second half to gain some better timing. That said, being too early in the training season, and still amidst the extended monsoon season in Mumbai, most runners had planned to take this run as a long practice run.
The race itself was 3 loops of a set route of about 14k each. The route was beautiful…small alleys of Bandra Gaothans that we never knew existed. At times you would be hard pressed to believe you are not in a small hamlet of Goa! But most of the race route was on the road, and the traffic, for most part, was not cordoned off but manually managed by volunteers.
The support stations were good and reasonably stocked. However, in the 3rd loop, we didn’t find anything other than water at most water stations. The energy drink was all consumed, leaving most runners high and dry. And the volunteers had escaped to take shade under a building or tree, leaving the water stations unattended. That was a bit of a letdown.
Running in Bandra West, you will find the elite Mumbai crowd, many with their canines in tow, walking along the beautiful promenade. There will always be, amusingly, a small crowd outside Mannat, of eager gawkers waiting for their star to show up from a late night shoot!
The post-run refreshments were served right at the base of the Bandra Fort, and were adequate and warm. There were visually impaired masseurs to massage runners’ tired legs and there was a small counter of You Too Can Run, promoting their Athlete ID. Overall a fun event, well organized, and exposed us to another side of Bandra which we never knew existed!