I left home at about 4:35am with RK to pick up RV from 80 ft road in Indiranagar. Portions of the 100 ft road was already blocked for traffic and we had to take an alternate route. After parking the car in UB city we reached the stadium by 5:20 am. After belting up the pacer flagpole with the help of Venkat I entered the stadium 10 minutes later. The area was , of course, flooded with runners- apparently nearly 8000 runners had registered for the HM making it one of the largest races in the country (after Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon and Airtel Delhi Half marathon). Several runners - some familiar and most not known to me - expressed interest in running with the 2:15 pacing bus. Once the gates opened and runners rushed to the stadium tracks towards the start point I lost most of these runners.
The race was flagged off just after 5:45am and I crossed the start line couple of minutes after that. It was quite slow going till we got out of the Kanteerva stadium. The route for this year's race was different from last year. The first 4 and the last 4 Kms of the race was inside Cubbon Park. Plus the MG road/Trinity circle/old airport road stretch was completely avoided. This was done to optimise traffic control which was a huge challenge in 2014.
Plus it is fantastic to run inside Cubbon anyway.Nice early morning weather, adrenaline of the race start and the ambiance in Cubbon Park meant that runners tend to have a faster first few Kms than they should. I had factored this in. After a 6:30 1st Km, Kms 2 thru 4 were run at about 6:09/Km pace . Thereafter, the pace was steady between 6:20 and 6:35. Like last year I cheered every Km completed and struck up a conversation with some of the runners. Unlike last year this year's bus was less cohesive. That is, runners kept dropping off and new runners coming in. One reason was the aid stations. Up to the 15Km or so mark aid stations were very crowded and one time as well as some runners around them. Given the volume of runners there should have been more tables instead of just one or two. We reached the half way point in 1:06:49 at an average pace of 6:20/Km - about a minute slower than what I had targeted. On the way back we lost some momentum at the Kamraj Raod/Cubbon road intersection as traffic police stopped runners to let the traffic go. The cops found it tough to hold the traffic- this is an area that has to improve - hopefully will do so over a period once the city becomes more aware and also the road blockages and alternate routes are well publicised. When we entered Cubbon park on the return stretch I realised that I had to accelerate a bit to finish within 2:15. Egging on runners around me I pressed the pedal and ran the last 3 Kms at under 6 mins/Km pace. This is not ideal and the lesson is to manage better and put more minutes in the bank in the first half. It had become quite warm after 730am. Another factor was the lack of clear Km markers towards the end. Anyway overall I was satisfied that I helped a few runners.
I had intended to go back and run 10Km after a few minutes break like I did last year. I did start out to do that but abandoned the idea after about 500m. After hanging around the finish area for sometime I enjoyed the sumptuous hot breakfast.
Ritika reached the stadium around 10am for the 5K Hope run. After some general entertainment and Zumba based warm up session the race kicked off a little after 10:50am. It took nearly 5 minutes for Ritika and me to reach the start point. The race was crowded and a lot of participants were walking rather than running. Ritika and I did run/walk and completed the 5Km in about 42 minutes.