Over the last few years, the one sport that has really geared up the attention is the increasing number of marathons in India. We have seen people from all walks of life come together and run to the finishing line with glory.
However, as the novel coronavirus spread its wings in the year 2020, the biggest setback it caused in the life of a runner was the canceling of marathon events in India and worldwide. The race organizers had to reschedule or cancel marathons to ensure the virus does not spread due to these events.
Virtual races have become the new normal and replaced real marathon events. Many running events including the prestigious Comrades Ultra Marathon held as a virtual race this year. Though this gave some respite, it could never match the anxiety, excitement, and the feeling of running live marathons on roads.
Now before I get carried away with the emotion, let’s bring back the focus on the most popular marathons in India. In this blog, I will be covering top marathons in India, held every year.
Disclaimer: The list given below is in no order. Also, I have not participated in every marathon mentioned. Few of the listed marathons, though backed by research are purely based on the feedback received from some of my fellow running friends!
Tata Mumbai marathon started in 2004 as Standard Chartered Mumbai International Marathon. In 2018, the sponsorship changed and it became Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM).
This marathon happens in Mumbai generally in the month of January. It is also the richest race in India with a prize pool of more than US$400,000. Mumbai marathon is one of the most popular Marathons in India and also happens to be the largest marathon in Asia. This marathon is also the largest mass participating sporting event on the continent. For more information about the race, you can also visit the website.
The different race categories are – Marathon, Half marathon, Open 10k run, Dream run, Senior citizen-run, Champions with disability.
This event is managed by the Hyderabad runners society. Airtel Hyderabad Marathon (AHM) is an event that is held in the city of Nizam, Hyderabad, since 2011. It is the second biggest marathon in India after the Tata Mumbai Marathon.
The marathon moves around the hills in Hyderabad, making this one of the toughest events in India. People consider this marathon as one of the toughest because it has 3 insane flyovers (uphill) in the Marathon course.
It is held in four categories – 5 km run, 10 km run, Half Marathon, Full Marathon.
Hyderabad is famous for its history, world-famous Biryani, and pearls. However, with the growing seriousness about fitness in people, many people are taking up fitness activities for an active lifestyle. Due to this, it has emerged as one of the leading cities in India in terms of Sporting Culture. Although the race will not be held this year however regular updates about the race can be seen on their website.
The event is arguably one of the fastest courses in the world. Over the years the event has consistently recorded the top five fastest HM timings in the world. Champions like Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea), Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia), Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia), Florence Kilpagat (Kenya), have made their mark in the Delhi marathon.
In addition to these big names, the event has also featured world record holder of around 4 road running distances – 5K, 10K, 15K, 21K, Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya). The event also featured Worknesh Degefa (Ethiopia), a specialist half-marathon runner. Last but not the least, London 2012 Olympic Marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) also ran this event. Also Avinash Sable ran his personal best and set a new national record during the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon this year in November.
The best part of this race is the flat route and it will definitely help you to get your Personal Best (PB). So, many outstation runners travel here to get a PB and also to enjoy the city. This year registration for the race has been closed however, for any future updates you can visit the website.
Kaveri Trail Marathon or KTM is India’s oldest trail marathon. Kaveri trail marathon was started as a training for Bangalore ultra marathon. Though the condition under which the runners are put through is much tougher than the Bangalore marathon, but the idea was just that if you could run KTM, then you can easily run Bangalore ultra marathon.
The route of KTM is tough on one hand, but very beautiful and picturesque on the other hand. Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary in Srirangapatna, Karnataka is the venue for the Kaveri Trail Marathon. The start point of race is a beautiful canal that one can run adjacent to, while lush green fields is a gift to your eyesight.
Starting next to the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary, the route goes adjacent to a beautiful canal of the river Kaveri close to Balmuri Falls. The 10k route ends back at Ranganathittu bird sanctuary. The half and full marathon route needs you to turn back at the 10.5k mark and return to the start and will end at Ranganathittu bird sanctuary.
For more details on this race, please visit their website.
This event offers the the option of running half marathon and full marathon
Considered as the toughest marathon in India, majorly because of the climate and elevation, the Ladakh marathon is the highest marathon in India. Due to the severe weather condition, you need to arrive at the venue at least a week before to get familiar with the weather condition. You will be running at 3500 m above sea level so it is imperative that you acclimatize to the high altitude.
Out of the many races, the event has two ultra races –the 122 km Silk Route Ultra and 72 km Khardung La Challenge (5370 m).
The silk route will be the epitome of high altitude running testing the limits of human endurance. Khardung La Challenge is presently the World’s Highest Ultra Marathon.
Ladakh Marathon got the membership of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races in 2015. The marathon has also been listed in various International Sports magazines. It is also recognized as being amongst the most beautiful and awe-inspiring marathons in the world.
Participants get the unique opportunity to run with the local people of Ladakh through the most beautiful landscape offering stunning vistas of mountains, rivers, and valleys. It will leave you with lifelong memories and a chance to say you ran the Ladakh Marathon. One of my friends said it’s like running in heaven.
The registration for the same opens in Mar 2021 and you can register from here.
This race happens in India’s biggest salt desert, Rann of Kutch. This place is home to one of the biggest and probably most modern cities in Indus Valley civilization. Running in the Rann is nothing less than running till infinity where there is desert wherever you see.
It is one of India’s hardest trails with three different races (161 km, 101 km and 51 km).
The distance of the race is so big that the runners navigate the entire island navigating through its extreme corners and come across all the beauty the Khadir Bet Island has to offer.
Run The Rann is not an average trail running race. If you are adventurous and like to face challenges then this race is for you and it will take you deep into what Incredible India has to offer. Be prepared. Only the strong can Brave The Desert. You can register for the race from here.
SHHM – The Ultra Half Marathon is India’s third-largest half marathon. This marathon is popular around the world because of its beautiful and challenging route. SHHM usually happens in the first half of September. Though this is a half marathon, this has been included in the list of popular marathons in India due to its tough racecourse and the energy and planning it needs equivalent to a full marathon.
SHHM 2020 that was originally going to happen on 13th September 2020 – was postponed due to the Covid situation. The organizers will provide further updates on their website, as and when the situation evolves. SHHM holds a Guinness World Record title for ‘most people in a single mountain run’.
This event participants include runners across India as well as elite athletes and running enthusiasts from all around the world. This race also holds the Guinness world record for “Most people in a mountain run – single mountain”. This marathon has also been included in World’s best Bucket list half marathon race 3 times by Runner’s World UK.
Bengaluru Marathon, organized by NEB Sports, will be conducting the 7th edition in January month of 2021.
The marathon has four categories – Marathon, Half marathon, 10km & 5 km.
The registration for the race is currently open and you can register as an individual or in a group after choosing the race category. You can run anytime between 17th Jan to 24th Jan 2021. Alternatively, there will be an on-ground event for amateur elite runners who wish to qualify for International races. You can see more details here .
As I remember some of these marathon events in India that I took part in, it brings some of the sweetest memories of the events. The memories about preparing for the marathon event, following a running plan at least a month before the event, procuring all the necessary stuff before the event, etc.
You can refer my previous blog on things to do before marathon as a checklist before going to any race.
Thank You for reading it through. I hope the details about the marathon events will encourage you to run and I must strongly recommend you should run atleast one marathon in your lifetime.
And in case, you have already run one, we are all ears to listen to your experiences and share with others.
Also, if you find this informative and useful, help us to spread the knowledge by sharing it.
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