Thirty odd people from all age groups were standing right outside the Nehru Place Metro Station on a cold wintery morning. The excitement was plentiful, and between them they were putting turbans and flowers on their heads while also distributing flags amongst themselves. It was 7:00 in the morning; the few bystanders glanced curiously at the bunch bursting to ask what all this was about. The preparation was for the Airtel Half Marathon in Delhi, organised by Concern India Foundation. The temperature was just right and even the people who thought that they couldn’t do it were excited and warming up. The temperature was slightly low but not freezing. The excitement was pretty high.
ETASHA Team members and Friends were all getting ready for the 6 km run to help raise funds for a 100 girls to train in The ETASHA IGNOU community college. After about 2 months of effort we did come quite a way. The excitement was sky high. So was the energy. With bright yellow T-shirts, colorful turbans, flowers, Yellow flags, sport shoes and big smiles, we all walked into the station.
The number of people in and around Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, where the race began, were all teaming and talking about what they were expecting. Music was playing inside the stadium. And everyone was dressed to look like teams. It was so much fun watching people with different kinds of clothing and costumes, with weird hair, or pom-poms to cheer on the others. The 21 km Half-marathon had already started and some of the cheers for people could be heard from a fair distance. 9 of our students and 1 of our facilitators were running in the half marathon so it was quiet exciting to go over to see how they were doing too. We saw them doing the last 500 meters of the race. Being cheered by the bystanders who were encouraging clapping all the runners. These runners have done their personal best for this marathon and I believe they will do even better next year.
The 6 Km Great Delhi Run was about to begin. The shouts and screams made the enthusiasm palpable to even the nearby residents. The musicians on patios around the race track were singing peppy music and there were cheerleaders dancing to music on other platforms… Radio jockeys were talking about the event too.
So many teams had participated that even after the beginning of the run we had to wait at least 20 mins before we saw any of the participants from TEAM ETASHA. And when they came we were screaming as if it was celebrity… it was so much fun watching everyone cheer and wave while they were running by. Some of the students couldn’t hold their excitement and sprinted by, dodging many-many other participants, while waving to everyone or anyone who looked and smiled at their costume.
About an hour later I saw some of them coming back… surprisingly not looking tired at all. In fact, looking all the more energetic than they left. They were talking to people around them. Answering questions to bystanders and also looking forward to finishing the run. With some 10 thousand more people running too, it looked like they had mingled and yet managed to stand out.
Lots of smiles and Photographs later, we were all sitting on the stairs to the entrance of the JLN stadium, Sharing experiences, and talking about how all of us came together well. The students who ran the half marathon also talked about their achievements. It was a great and successful event where more than anything else the entire team had a sense of camaraderie.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.