Calcutta’s Marathon Began in Chaos

Calcutta’s 11k/Marathon began in chaos.

The announcer shouted, “Women to the front! Women at the front!”

The women moved to the front, shuffling through the crowd. The announcer said that they would start the 11k race five minutes before the men. As I was mulling the patriarchy and patronizing-ness of the situation, the starting gun went off.

The women began the race, but so did the men too! A horde of green shirts and cold, excited men stampeded forward, bursting through the attempts of the race authorities to stop them.

The announcer was shouting for the men to stop and managed to succeed to some extent. But then the starting gun went off again, by mistake! 

And the race began! A total chaos of swarming moving bodies

But, actually, it was chaos before the race even began. The “public toilet” was a bamboo structure with blue FEMA tarp constituting all four walls. No actual toilets or urinals, you just peed on the dirt on the ground inside the structure.

The desk in charge of giving out numbers and t-shirts to runners was overwhelmed. After a few minutes a shouting match broke out. The desk collapsed as people were climbing over it. I managed to snatch someone’s number (and made it mine), but Sheela nor I could get a shirt.

I don’t know if anyone knows their time. I don’t. (I think I came in in 44 minutes but that’s just an estimate) There was no starting clock, no specific starting time, and no times noted for people approaching the finish line. 

But hell it was fun!

(The actual marathon runners started about 20 minutes before the 11k)