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ANI report
Pics by Rons Bantwal
Daijiworld Media Network - Mumbai (MB)

Mumbai, Jan 22: Overwhelming passion for sports prevailed through the Mumbai Marathon held on Sunday, which concluded with much fun and fervour with the participation of celebrities from various walks of life. 
A plethora of elite athletes from across the country and abroad took part in Asia's largest 'Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon', which was flagged off by Mumbai Civic Commissioner Johny Joseph from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on Sunday morning.




The event included a full marathon (42 kms), a half marathon, a senior citizen's run (4.3 kms), a wheelchair-race (2.5 km) and free-for-all 'dream run' (6 km).

Bollywood actor and India's rugby team player Rahul Bose said the race was a collective expression of integrity and human values.

"The most important thing is that though there are several factors which divide people in this city such as Hindu-Muslim, richness-poverty, women-men, around 30,000 people will be running in this race, focussed on finishing it," he said.

"And, more than five lac people, who would be watching the event, will neither have to pay rupees 10,000 for the front row seat nor rupees 50 for the back row. All of them have front row seats.

"Everybody standing on the street will be watching this event and this great sense of non-discrimination...this is what makes today very special," said Bose, who is also the brand ambassador of the event.


Cricket commentator and actor Mandira Bedi, who ran in the 'Dream Run' category to raise funds for a non-governmental organisation, said the enthusiasm of Mumbaikers was the source of her encouragement.

"I am really looking forward to it. Though, I am not happy over reducing the distance of the 'Dream Run' to six kilometres from seven kilometres, I will run with full spirit. Normally, I run up to four kilometres on my treadmill. But when I see the spirit of Mumbaikers standing on the streets, I think I will be able to finish the run of seven kilometres," said Bedi.

High-profile corporate magnates also participated in the race, which was aimed at raising money for charities.

Former Bollywood actor and wife of Reliance Communications Chairman Anil Ambani, Tina Ambani, who took part in the marathon, said: "Whatever activities we do as citizens or as a society, we should try and include senior citizens in every activity. I think that is the most important thing".

In the 'Senior Citizens's Run', hundreds of elderly people participated dressed in yellow T-shirts and fancy costumes.

Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala said: "I am really excited as you know we are running for the senior citizens to show our love and gratitude. It's time that we give it back to them. That's our way of showing that we love and care".

John Kelai, the Kenyan runner, who came first by clocking at 2:12:30 in the Full Marathon race of 42.195-kilometer, gave the credit to his strong will power.

"I, myself totally relied on my willpower because I knew that this will determine the winner and the looser," said John Kelai.

Ethiopia's Gashaw Melese and Tariku Jufar came second and third in the same category.

In women's draw, Chinese runner Xiao Yang came first while Ethiopia's Letay Negash (2:37:05) finished second and Kenyan Jennifer Chesinon Lingakwiang (2:38:14) was third.

In the women's half-marathon (21.097 km), Nagpur runner Madhuri Gurnule won the first place clocking 1:19:54, while Switzerland`s Saviola Oppliegar came second and Bhagwati from India finished third.

Pune's Deep Chand won the top position in men's half marathon, with a timing of 1:08.03. Bhairav Singh Lone (1:08:25) notched the second position while Sachin Sonawane (1:08:27), came in third.

The marathon carried total prize money of 230,000 dollars. The prize money for the winner in the men's category was 31,000 dollar in the 42.195-kilometer main race and in the women's race it was 25,000 dollars. (ANI)

Brand visibility dwarfs philanthropy
Smita Nair / Mumbai Newsline
: If the Mumbai Marathon had a message inbox it would have shown “memory full’. But in this brain-turning eye-ball catching contest there was only one message that clearly stood out. The marathon this year was more about brand visibility than running for a social cause.

In contrast, there were children running barefoot for tsunami victims in 2005, a pregnant mother walking the stretch for 26/7 victims in 2006 and a close friend paying tributes to whistle-blower Manjunath.

At 10 minutes past nine on Sunday morning, as the Dream Run kicked off, corporate slogans on fancy placards outnumbered the usual save the tiger, girl child, child labour or other awareness issues.

Ad man Prahlad Kakkar sees no problem in this change: “The marathon is not to be taken as a serious kind of activity. It’s an act of solidarity. If corporates come in banners and T-shirts it’s not just talking about themselves, it’s also to inculcate a team building exercise. Furthermore, this year most of them were supporting their in-house causes,” he told Newsline.

So sample this: girls walking with huge CitiGroup branded umbrellas in the January winter, Life Insurance Corporation pressing for “smiles across faces”, Cap Gemini financial group asking for attention through their colourful cards, Air India and Jet Airways promoting themselves, Lodha builders promising roofs over heads and five men marching dressed as Apple Ipods with a rather plump McDonald giving them company.

Even Mumbai’s traffic policemen opted to be walking billboards as they fashioned a colourful advertisement for movie director Madhur Bhandarkar’s upcoming movie Traffic Signal. Bhandarkar called it “just a marketing tie-up”, while Joint Commissioner (traffic) Satish Mathur said: “Just like that. Besides, the T-shirts were sponsored and free.”

Preet Bedi of Percept, promoters of Traffic Signal, has no qualms about his novel advertising method. “The movie is about life around traffic signals, so we took the help of the traffic cops to promote the movie,” he says. So is the marathon seen as a promotional tool: “You have Mumbai cheering on both sides of the road, television cameras all around you. What more do you need,” replies Bedi.

Ad guru Piyush Pandey too isn’t complaining. The man from O&M, who two years back walked with a broom to support the ‘clean Mumbai’ cause adds: “It’s a win-win situation for all. When brands support sport, it brings in money. When they don’t put money into sports, you crib. When they do, you crib. One should not get too moralistic about this, what is wrong if they promote themselves.”

That’s something Abhay Yawalkar, joint Managing Director of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, wants to hear. “MTDC participated in the marathon for the first time with the mission to create awareness about the brand—’Maharashtra Unlimited’. It turned out to be an extremely cost effective measure of corporate branding,” he says.

‘Unite against crime’ - The Mumbai Police ran under the banner ‘Unite against Crime’.

‘‘We chose this cause as we feel that people are reluctant to report crimes, and even if they do so, they are reluctant to depose in court. Witnesses have to come forward, and we cannot fight crime unless we are all united. The police feel that they are fighting a very lonely war against crime nowadays,” said Meeran Borwankar, joint commissioner of police (crime). 


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