Part 1 – Comrades – An Introduction

Either you have work or you have not.

When you have to say, “Let us do something,” then begins mischief

My earliest introduction to the word ‘Comrade’ was when I attended a Bank Trade Union meeting with my father. It was certainly not my introduction to ‘communism’ in any manner. I could barely follow the proceedings in the meeting and was there only for the dinner that followed it. Few minutes later, I realised that I wasn’t alone. Apart from the name of the chief guest, whom I learnt later was an icon among public sector bank employees, I recollect two things from that meeting – some talk about BCCI (a bank in middle east that failed around the same time) and the word ‘Comrade.’

The Comrades Marathon was introduced to me (as well as most Chennai Runners) by Shahid in late 2009 when he registered for the 2010 edition of the event. While the rules of the game sounded weired, it was interesting to learn that it has existed for almost a century. I joined Shahid during his training runs on couple of occasions, and witnessed some of the hardships in training – from starting to run at insane morning hours to changing socks and shirts on the run, and getting a cooling shower from one of the gardeners of the palatial minister bungalows on Greenways road. It was around this time, I got acquainted with Amit Sheth – through Shahid – who was the Ambassador of Comrades Marathon in India.

It goes without saying that a majority of the Comrades runners in India (which is actually a minority) were inspired/made aware of the Comrades marathon through Amit’s book Dare to Run. My objective opinion on the book would be disputed for it contains some undeserved praise for me in one of the chapters. It is a simple, beautiful book with wonderful anecdotes from a ‘daily life of a runner.’ Just like his book, Amit’s blog Dare to Run has always been a wonderful read. One must definitely read about his 2012 Comrades experience which I was lucky to witness in person.

It was in the same year that Tanvir Kazmi, author of the famous blog Running without limits, also ran his first Comrades. Tanvir’s blog on the Comrades was a wonderful account of a first timer’s experience at the Comrades marathon. Tanvir has subsequently been active every year on the Comrades day tracking the progress of every Indian runner. It was a fabulous to see him to track the runners so earnestly in 2011 and followed it up in 2012 too.

3 Comments

  1. Like the start Balaji.. well written.. looking for more interesting stuff.. keep it coming..

  2. Padma says:

    Wow…your articles make an interesting read…never knew you could write so well..

  3. Venu says:

    Reading your blogs after a very very long time…must say maturity level has increased…(doesn’t mean your earlier blogs were immature :-)…)

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