12 things I learned about road races in India

Spending nearly 4 weeks in Chennai, India for work, I managed to book a small number of road races. Unfortunately the half marathon was cancelled due to the weather conditions, but the 10km and 5km which took place were a blast! Here are the things I have learned from booking and running these races about running in India.

  1. Marathon is just a generic word for running – A ot of people mentioned they “ran marathons”, I quickly learned this is a generic term for any running race – 5km, 10km, half or full marathon.
  2. Incredible choice – Maybe this was Chennia, or maybe because it was Winter, but there was a road race every weekend whilst I was there. The first weekend I was too late in booking though 🙁
  3. Great value for money – Each race included a medal, t-shirt and goodie bag. The most expensive race I booked was £11, whilst they averaged around £5
  4. Choice of distances – Each event usually had the full gammut of distance – The half marathon I chose, also had 3km, 5km and 10km race distances for all abilities
  5. Pick your bib up the day before – Each race had a bib pick up the day before. None gave me the choice of picking up on the morning of the race. For me this was a bit of an inconvenience as it was a 45 minute cab ride to the location as well as the cab ride to the race the next morning.
  6. Early morning start – Whilst it was winter in Chennai, it still averaged 25 – 30C each day. To beat the heat and sun, the races typically started around 6am. Add this to the 40 minute cab ride to the venue = a very early start!
  7. Awesome warm up – ZUMBA!!! The warm-up was always high energy with the vast majority of particpants taking part. Loved it!
  8. Followed by a long introduction – Unfortunately after the great warm up, there was then the messages of thanks and sponsors. For both the races, this took 10 minutes plus and sucked all of the energy out of the great warm up. They need to switch this around! To be fair, this happens a lot in British races too!
  9. Not quite the distance – The 3km run turned out to be several laps (most people only completed one) whilst the 10km run over the two laps still only mensured 8.9km. Not a huge deal to me, I was running for fun, but if you were going for a PB or needed a specific distance it is a little annoying.
  10. Lots of water stops – The heat and humidity (even so early in the morning) meant that water stops are vital. The 10km race had 4 water stops and the scheduled half marathon had 10!
  11. Selfie finish – No official photographers along the route, but there was always a finish line selfie bord for you to take your own pics for memories!
  12. Incredible atmosphere – You could tell everyone loved running! With the choice of race distances, brought runners of all ages and abilities. Families taking on the shorter distances, elites racing and everyone having a smile on their face.

OK, so I only ran two races and had one cancelled. Some of these lessons may change as I enter more races in Chennai. My work has an office in Chennai, so I know I will be returning and I am excited to see what other running adventures I take on next!

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Wil Chung