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Run all you want in the Garden City
Bangalore's growth as a running hub in the past decade has seen a number of clubs sprout, with most runners taking to the activity as their first steps in the right direction. With corporates, social activists, fitness freaks and students growing in number in every edition of the city's flagship running event - the World 10K - it's a new way of life.
While runners fall into every category possible, it's Bangalore's working professionals who make up a large chunk of the community. Apart from Runners For Life, the city is host to a number of clubs such as Earthquake Runners (BHUKMP - Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ultra, Kaveri Trail, Mumbai and Puducherry), 12M12M (12 marathons in 12 months), Twilight Runners (after-dark athletes), Barefoot Runners, the Nike Run Club and groups from IT giants like Infosys and Wipro.
"The most significant change in the demographic in the past few years is that the average age of runners has consistently got younger, " says Arvind Bharati of Runners for Life, a Bangalore-based running community. "When we began in 2005, the average age of runners was 45. Over time, we have seen that figure drop sharply, while our core group hasn't changed, " says Arvind, adding that more and more kids in the 13-14 age group are taking to running now.
Runners for Life already have around 10, 000 registered members. "From these, around 8, 000 are from the city and 2, 000 participate in at least three events throughout the year. A good 700-800 hardcore runners also travel to other cities to test themselves each year, " he adds.
The reason? Shorter and more competitive events are being held in the city. Arvind explains that while a running culture exists in other cities too, there are few outlets for performance. "People need events to participate in and not just run around their neighbourhood or 5-km joy runs. In Mumbai, there are very few events after the Mumbai Marathon. People need competition to build motivation, " he says.
"If you see the Urban Stampede that we conduct in Bangalore, the teamwork and the shortest competitive run of 5 km, ensure a lot of participation, " he says of the corporate team championship, while giving due credit to the city's theme-based running events like the Heart 10 km (on World Heart Day) and the Women's 10 km (on Women's Day).
Arvind, whose organisation conducts three runs in the city - Urban Stampede, Kaveri Trail Marathon and Bangalore Ultra - says that the pleasant weather in the city is another contributor to the growth of the running community. "In Bangalore, one can run throughout the year and at venues like Cubbon Park, which has also been a major factor, " he says.
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