Early in the lockdown, I was thinking of how Covid-19 pandemic will change marathons and ultrarunning events. It will be at least three months before I can attempt a slow jog after recovering from the injury. By November, if Malnad Ultra is going ahead, I might try a short trail distance. If TMM goes ahead in January, then that would be the event I would like to resume with.
Meanwhile, cycling to the farm remains the rehab path from the injury. And I am enjoying these rides. The change in perspective that an injury brings along is stunning. It has made me so much more conscious about biomechanics, about every single change and sensation in the muscles and bones. I am more fine tuned into the body’s physiology.
On marathons though, I think solo runs work very well for me as daily routine. But the occasional group events like TMM are fun to attend for the shared spirit and collective energy. For what Mumbai is going through right now, I do not think January 2020 event will be an easy decision for the city administration and the organizers.
Now that the world is three months into the pandemic and reeling under its effect, the prospects of organizing events with 50K + participants will become clear. For how the virus spreads, and in the year when social distancing has become a word on every street it will be a hard decision to organize such an event.
As we know, travel has already undergone a sea change. This is not likely to change for at least a year and more likely we will label the altered travel restrictions, screening and surveillance with our favourite phrase – new normal.
On the post-Covid sporting worldview, with respect to running, it is hard to see a trend yet. I anticipate that there will be a surge in the local park running numbers and in Everesting types, but large events in populous cities will be avoided by many. Public health concern and infection risk awareness seems to have peaked in the world. Those who feel invincible might still get out and fill the spots.
As far as international politics is concerned, the rifts are known. I will keep that speculation for later. Post-Covid India is already shaping up. The fatigue and costs that enforcement and healthcare agencies are substantial in India. For one thing, I would really feel guilty to see Mumbai Police lay a cordon around the marathon route for runners. It is distressing to see the way they have been put on line during this pandemic.
I wanted to re-visit these quick thoughts I shared on Twitter in March after these days of lockdown. I am hoping the world is different from my speculation by November. If not, then smaller events and limited entries will be the future of running. Meanwhile, with a friend, I am busy marking a long trail around our farms and the rim-like hill range in Wardha.