It's time for Kolkata to cycle ahead #CyKol
The last time Kolkata hosted an endurance competition with a distance over 10 km was in 2010. (No, Amity Half Marathon doesn’t count. Amity has been passing off their 7 km run as a half marathon, a half marathon is 21 kms long. Their race is actually 1/6thof a marathon.) The Airtel Kolkata Marathon was held in February 2010, and it witnessed dismal participation in the full race category.
Even the organization of the race was not up to the level of other metros. The roads were to be cordoned off only for about three hours, after which the runners would have to run among the traffic of the vehicles. Finishing a full marathon of 42.195 km within that time would place one among the fittest runners in the country. For perspective, Lance Armstrong finished the 2007 NYC Marathon in 2 hours and 46 minutes.
After three hours, the traffic was let loose. Although the police were helpful in stopping the traffic whenever a runner came across an intersection, the runners still had to be wary of the traffic.
Compared to other major cities in India such as Mumbai and Delhi, Kolkata is still some ways behind when it comes to the pursuit for fitness. This is reflected in the low turnout at the 2010 Airtel Marathon. One argument against using the low number of participation in the full marathon to gauge the willingness of Kolkata’s people to stay fit is that a marathon is an extreme distance for anyone to run and even a reasonably fit person would shy away from participating in such a race.
That’s not the only reason for me to accuse the fellow Kolkata citizens of neglecting their fitness. Mumbai for instance, is inundated with joggers and people promenading all around. There are numerous parks and roads where people can work their legs out with ease. While Kolkata has more open spaces, in stark contrast, Kolkata’s citizens aren’t as eager to populate their parks for the purpose of exercise.
A marathon as an endurance event is just not made for the general public. I would argue that it is and that everyone ought to strive to be in shape to finish a marathon, but that’s neither here nor there. Reality being that most people shy away from training for such a distance, mainly because they see it to be pointless.
There is however another type of endurance sport which is a lot more accessible to pick up and pursue. With improvements in means of transportation (the word improvement can be argued here, and it will be in a coming article) people are getting from source to destination with ease in good time. But there’s something being lost along the way. An opportunity to use the fuel of the human body. The previous generations had something special which some of our generation are being deprived of.
Its not the destination so much as the journey.
That is where a bicycle comes in. Not everyone can run a marathon, but a good number of people can pedal for a long distance. It’s a lot less taxing on the legs. Quote Lance Armstrong, after finishing a marathon: “For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done. I never felt a point where I hit the wall. It was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness.” He was also purported to have said to his wife in a text message after the marathon “****”.
Its time for Kolkata to cycle ahead and do away with the perceived notion that it’s behind other cities in the pursuit for fitness. Lets see how many cyclists come out on 18 March.
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