Sunday, December 7, 2008
"Are you in 55+ or other category?" asked one of the volunteer at the registration disk, engrossed in a document with the ticked list of registered participants, not looking at us. That was a surprise question to both of us. Me and my cousin looked at each other, though we are aged, but certainly not to the number that volunteer mentioned, smiled at ourselves and paused for a while as we could not digest it or probably in search of a fitting reply on a chilling Sunday morning. Probably annoyed and irritated by our no response or by the mounting pressure from the antline behind us, the volunteer got up from the seat and was about to say something to us, just in time saw our faces and uttered in complete disbelief "oh..oh...sorry! sorry! Sir, I did not mean in that sense, but if you tell your category that would be fine for us give you the specified ribbon, along with a t-shirt".
We smiled at the volunteer, got blue ribbon for both of us (orange for under 15, red for 35-55, green for 55+), a t-shirt and a green seal pressed on to our wrist as a token of registering ourselves. The organizers have requested us to assemble at 7:30am, since we knew that this is going to be a gala event, made ourselves at the spot by 7:17am. Even at that time, the antline to which we joined was well over 100 in each and was meandering like a river. Later, the number turned out to be well over 1500. With such an overwhelming response, and still hundreds in the line, naturally the event was delayed by an hour. As there were drums of tea and coffee to offer, for researchers like us, its more than enough to spend next 'few days' in that place. This was quite evident, even when the organizers told the registrants to assemble back at 9:00am, no one moved from the place or willing to do so. Such an electrifying, rich and charged atmosphere we had. We both put our t-shirts on, got camera from lab and within few minutes, a mini 'Club of CES' was ready with Alka, Boomi, Durgamadab, Hari, Rohini, Supriya and myself, additionally Aravind, Gowtam and Rajat too.
After having National anthem, few welcome notes and two minutes of silence for the recent trauma at Mumbai, run started at 9:00am sharp for our category with flagging off by G. Padmanabhan, our ex director. Subsequently with 5minutes gap for other three category. A total of 3.5km for us and for others, it was 1.5kms.
To me this run was merely for fun or at most to prove a point or two too for myself. After my school days, this probably my first official run. So, I was pretty much visualizing and bringing in that school composition into me, hence was highly excited. More so, with aging body, I was in self doubt whether I could run or not? This takes me into a recent movie, Cheeni kum, where in Tabu asks Amitab to run up till a tree, to show that he still is capable of. As field biologist, we have strenuous trekking, nature walks etc, but as an athlete the scenario is completely different, though the strain might remain the same. First two kilometer was real good to run with lots and lots of people seen in front of us, making us to push a bit more. It was more of a fast walk, since one cannot leap, in worst scenario we might stumble and lead to stampede. Fortunately, nothing happened like that. In all these length, our mini CES club was almost together. As the length progressed, I was left with Boominathan, and all others from our team either slowed down or took break. Few photographers at the corners, water bottles at our disposal, a videographer on a bike and importantly, claps and cheers from Mohan Reddy and co., have certainly added a few more calories for us to run.
It was last 1km, that took almost all physical energy and stamina from me, what was remaining was my will power. My body said, stop and walk, mind was supposed, but I blocked it. I said, come on, few more meters to go and that's it. Pushing literally, a foot by a foot, step by step, finally, I completed the run, without break in approximately 19 minutes 50seconds (which might look too odd for the professionals). Body asked for a complete rest and relax! Mind said "you did it". An Appy/Fruity at this instance was more than what one seeks at the end of a run and that's exactly what the organizers have provided. With every passing minute, one after the other entered the ground, completely burn out, yet bubbling with enthusiasm.
24 prizes were won. It was a strange delight when you see kids and elderly go to the podium and receive the prizes. That too when intellectual giants like Dr. Duttaguru, Dr. Balakrishnan, Dr. Balaram and Dr. Padmanabhan showing such enthusiasm in participating in the event as well as in prize distribution, I thought to myself, this is an event to remember for rest of my life. All these giants, at the fag end of the ceremony showed why they are called so, in announcing that "A gift coupon worth hundred rupees to all who ran". I was just touched.