Have you ever experienced a kind of run where the reward was the run itself? There was no bib to pin on your chest, and there was no medal or applause at the end – however, there was a feeling of accomplishment and personal satisfaction was complete and fulfilled on its own. Runners live for moments like these, and yet, such moments sometimes get lost in the fray for personal bests and competition.
A few runners from Mumbai wanted to rekindle the ecstasy of running in the community, and rally the collective spirit of individual runners to create a groundswell of goodwill and togetherness. Thus was born the outline for the ‘United V Run as 1’ event that was successfully held on the 12th of April, and counted RRUNN among its hydration partners.
Mumbai-based ultrarunner Sunil Shetty, organizer of the, run tells us that the vision for this event was months in the making. With the surging popularity of running and running clubs in metros across India, more runners are finding themselves to be an integral part of dedicated groups and running circles. Though this has, for the most part, resulted in good cheer and camaraderie, Shetty says that there have been instances of in-fighting between groups and unhealthy competition.
This event was visualized as an opportunity for runners to leave behind their cliques and established groups, and come together as individuals who found joy in running. This was not going to be a hotly contested race – instead, this would be a warm get together where runners could get to know new fellow runners, have a chance to relax and smile, and leave with fond memories.
Sunil says the first task was to create a core committee of 7 runners who were well respected in the community, but weren’t staunchly associated with one particular running group. The determined seven, who had complete faith in the philosophy behind the run, set out on the task of putting together an event where there would be no registration fees. Even though they were presented opportunities for sponsorship for the entire event, the decision was made to organize the event as an independent entity.
Registrations started with an expectation of 300-400 runners, which was soon surpassed. Sunil and his team were stunned to see registrations soon swell up to 1400, as word spread on social media. On the day of the run, runners were encouraged to don either blue or white – and of course, a smile! The event truly came alive as runners left behind the logos and colors of their running groups for one day, and everyone could assimilate into one tribe. And the race day rules? Just one – stop and take loads of pictures! Runners were given 2 hours to complete the 12K run, so that everyone could relish a slow paced run with ample of opportunities to stop and say hi to the person running alongside them.
Even though the day was hot, there was plenty of RRUNN to keep everyone’s hydration and spirits up. Together, the community bade farewell to the running season with a big breakfast and even bigger spirits. The organizers could not be happier with the outcome of the first edition. Sunil says that the only setback that they encountered was that out of the 1400 registrations, eventually 800 runners turned up on race day. While that number is nothing to be scoffed at, Sunil hopes that with better word of mouth, even more runners will show up to support the run in the next year. “We don’t want this run to be a one-off. We are definitely looking forward to make this even bigger and better next year,” Sunil hopes.
As the running community winds down for the offseason and starts preparing anew for the next one, events like the Unity V Run serve as a reminder than running is bigger than the number crunching and finishes. Novice runners and elites alike will agree that the best impetus for running is the sheer bliss that it brings to lives. Before you get back to analyzing your Garmin figures and planning your training schedules, remember to take a moment every now and then to look at the pictures from your runs and relive those memories.
After all, these are the memories that make life, and indeed running, worth it.