Kochi: As if a thousand flames have been lit, flickers of orange mushroomed across Kochi in the wee hours of Sunday as running enthusiasts, 7,000-strong, clad in luminescent running gear, slowly made their way to K K Premachandran Sports Complex in Willingdon Island in Kochi, despite the threat of looming storm, to take part in the sixth Spice Coast Marathon.
Organized by Soles of Cochin, a dedicated band of local runners, the Spice Coast Marathon has become one of the flagship events in Kochi, drawing participation from across India and for all age groups and categories. When it began in 2014, it had but 950 runners in the fray. While this number grew steadily over the years, the biggest leap came this year, thanks in part to the many campaigns – even by corporate companies – to promote the idea of healthy living.
Indian sports icon Sachin Tendulkar and film star Tovino Thomas flagged off the marathon. The main event, the 42.2km run, began at 3:30am and was followed by the half marathon, the 21.1km-run, at 4:30am.
The course snaked its way through the quiet lanes of Willingdon Island before rummaging out onto the streets of Fort Kochi (for the main event) and the scenic waterfronts of Kochi mainland. It was designed in such a way that there was at least one Kochi landmark to admire for every kilometre. For the many who took part in the run, it was also a chance to soak in the splendour of the city without having to tackle its traffic and other aberrations.
C John Paul won the marathon, finishing 42.2km in 3 hours 07.05seconds. A. Ayub (3:14.55) and C.A. Benson (3:22.31) finished second and third.
In the women's section, Shino Mol emerged champion (5:10:11), while Marla Hall (5:11.18) to finished second while Aruav Pillai (5:11:18) finished third.
Credit also goes to the army of volunteers who made the marathon possible without many jitters. In handing out drinks at water stations or throwing in that occasional high-five at intersections, they were instrumental in lifting the spirits and making the run an enjoyable one. The event was also ably supported by the traffic police and even the tourism department.
The Spice Coast Marathon is one in a long list of marathons this season which lasts until February.
Half-marathon results: Men: 1. M P Nabeel Sahi (1:19.57); 2. Avinesh Kumar (1:23.05); 3. M P Aswin (1:26:30).
Women: Merina Mathew (1:51.08); 2. Marta Ceconni (1:56.25); 3. Josmy Joseph (2:02.09s).