If you wanted to know which issues bother Mumbai the most, you just had to watch Sunday’s Marathon.
With grocery bills touching the roof and onion prices leaving people teary-eyed, inflation seemed to be a pet cause for participants in the different categories of the race.
There were at least four participants who took up the cause of rising onion prices and inflation. Two of them were dressed up like onions and one even had faux tears stuck on his face for effect.
Nitin Dhumal, an employee at KEM Hospital, was dressed up as an onion and his accessories included packets consisting of sugar, rotis and rice.
“The cost of living has risen, as have the prices of commodities. That is why I decided to highlight the issue of inflation,” he said.
Umang Foundation, a group working for child welfare, had a man half-dressed as an onion, with onion peels and stickers spelling out ‘mehengai’ in different Indian languages stuck all over him.
Avid cyclist, 74-year-old KR Chaudhary, fresh off a 1,000km cycle race, came down from Aurangabad to spread his message about “how difficult it is to survive and eat these days”. Running alone, he was covered with garlands of fruits and vegetables and carrying an empty market bag.
Education appeared to be the second most popular cause of concern for everyone with messages promoting the girl child’s education and the pride of being a parent to one.
Other causes that figured prominently in the marathon were protection of the tiger, corruption and scams, eye donation and eye care, child care, autism and global warming.
Environmental concern was depicted using replicas of melting icebergs, recycled paper and tree plantation messages. NGOs, together with corporate houses, had large contingents to highlight issues concerning the disabled and visually challenged.
Marathoners vied with one another to get the attention of people who had come to cheer them up. They blew vuvuzelas, whistles, wore t-shirts with messages emblazoned on them and carried banners and balloons with creative lines. Music at regular intervals kept the mood upbeat.
Dombivli resident MS Ganeshan, who was dressed like a clown said, “Parents are not devoting quality time to their children. I’d like to tell them they should be jovial once in a while.”
Sports commentator Harsha Bhogle, who ran to create awareness for autism, said, “It is important to raise these issues and take them to people as you never know when it will all become useful.”
However, many like 19-year-old Vipul Shirsat participated in the event just for the thrill. He hopes to find a cause to support next year. “I am normally into boxing and do small workouts to stay fit.
Running with so many people was fun. Next year, I will try to run the full marathon,” said the first year BA student.
Bystanders like IIT student Mohit Sharma who could not participate, made the most of the event by clicking photos.
“I was late this time for registration, so I’ve just come to watch. I follow athletics to some extent and my day was made when I could capture Australian runner Kathreen Freeman on my camera,” said Sharma. Others had a field day clicking photos of celebrities on their mobile phones as they zipped past them.
Marc Morabia from Hong Kong decided to make the marathon a fun day out with his wife and three children. The family was up since 6am.
“I have just joined a bank here and so missed the registration date. My wife and children are most excited and wanted to see the run. We will participate in the next one,” he said.