Delhi Marathon: When Even Severe Air Quality Didn’t Daunt Runners

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon took place on Sunday, 21 October, and saw a turnout of about 35,000 participants.

Updated21 Oct 2018, 04:55 AM IST
Health News
3 min read

On the hazy morning of 21 October, people descended upon the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in huge numbers. Just a day before on 20 October, when FIT traced the marathon route, the air quality on all locations was found to be in the severely bad category, yet it did not intimidate the runners even the slightest.

While the recommended PM10 levels are 100, anything above 300 is considered to be severe. The air quality monitor readings were over 400 at the four main locations we visited - Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (the starting and the end point of the marathon), Lodhi Road, Rajpath and Janpath.

Delhi is Undaunted at the Half Marathon

The general atmosphere of cheer and enthusiasm at the Half Marathon did not betray any fears of the bad air quality.

A yellow sea of runners.
A yellow sea of runners.
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)

About 35,000 runners participated in the marathon with categories that started as early as 5 am. This was evident in the innumerable cars which lined up the gates of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Security personnel line the start and end point of the marathon at an entrance of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Security personnel line the start and end point of the marathon at an entrance of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)

While some ran to raise awareness about causes like autism, there were others who were simply trying to get on the fitness bandwagon and a 5km run seemed to be a good starting point.

Running for a cause - a group running to raise awareness about autism.
Running for a cause - a group running to raise awareness about autism.
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)

Much of the marathon paraphernalia, which was completely missing even a day before, simply appeared overnight to allow the runners a colourful marathon experience.

Smog, what’s that? Nothing to quell the spirits of these runners.
Smog, what’s that? Nothing to quell the spirits of these runners.
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)
Another set of enthusiastic participants all the way from Ethiopia.
Another set of enthusiastic participants all the way from Ethiopia.
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)
Here’s a  dog for good measure. 
Here’s a dog for good measure. 
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)

There was no end to the number of people streaming in by the minute to participate.

More cars than runners? Several parts of the area seemed to suggest so.
More cars than runners? Several parts of the area seemed to suggest so.
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)

The lack of face masks this year, in contrast with the marathon in 2017, was instead taken care of bright, cheery grins.

An enthusiastic group of runners, just arriving at the venue to start their run.
An enthusiastic group of runners, just arriving at the venue to start their run.
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)
Where are the clear skies?
Where are the clear skies?
(Photo: Sumit Badola/FIT)

Last year, the Indian Medical Association had called for a cancellation of the marathon due to the bad air quality, but the organisers went ahead with it anyway. The previous marathon had taken place in November, but this year it has been preponed to avoid the major onslaught of Delhi smog.

In 2017, the air quality was bad enough to make running in this air equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

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Published: 21 Oct 2018, 04:44 AM IST
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