All is well that ends well. The proverb will aptly define the obstacles and the success for the Delhi Airtel Half Marathon 2017, which turned out to be the most successful run in the illustrious history of the event despite a series of challenges– posed by the hazardous haze that had engulfed the national Capital and a subsequent legal petition by the Indian Medical Association to stall the run.
However, the race on Sunday morning concluded on a perfect sunny day for a long-distance run. In an exclusive chat with insidesport.co Procam International managing director Anil Singh talked about the challenges, success and future of the DAHM. Here are the excerpts:
Insidesport: How did the Delhi Airtel Half Marathon go on Sunday? How did the participants react to fears and threats of the Delhi smog and pollution?
Anil Singh: It (the run) went sensational. Everyone’s experience was superb and I am quoting this from a personal feedback I have had from at least 200 participants. It was a lovely day for the run and we are extremely satisfied with the end. The runners, who I guess had been in some sort of dilemma, all were delighted that they made a right choice to run. We struck to our thinking that those who want to run must run and those who want to opt out were free to withdraw.
This is the No. 1 half marathon in the world. It is a Gold level IAAF run. All the runners were training for this particular day. They changed their lifestyles. You cannot change the schedule or postpone a No. 1 event in the world within nine days.
IS: What precautions did Procam International take on the run day?
AS: The rain on the previous day (it drizzled in Delhi on Saturday) helped a lot. The entire stretch of the run was watered. Mist fans were installed across the race route, which helped in keeping the pollutants to lie down to the ground. For runners, it was a normal Delhi day at the end.
IS: How did the Delhi smog and litigation affect the run?
AS: Running community was not creating a hue and cry about all this. We had about 2,000 cancellations out of 36,000 entries. The trouble was created more by the people who were not participating in the event. The people who were making these phenomenal statements were not part of the run or did not belong to the running community. So, what could we say! There were two parallels. I am glad that the running community for whom we were there stayed with us.
IS: How did your corporate associates react to the prevailing uncertainties amidst the threat from the Delhi climate?
AS: Our associates, from Airtel to each commercial partner, were with us every single second. Their support has been commendable.
IS: There were reports that Airtel will reconsider its association with the Delhi Half Marathon. What is their stand now?
AS: Airtel did make a statement about reconsidering their association with the Delhi Half Marathon. They were only referring to the fact that they won’t like to go through this scenario for yet another time. However, it is an issue that we all, that includes Procam, government, sponsors, national and global governing bodies for athletics, need to discuss and address collectively. We cannot keep world’s best event running amidst this kind of uncertainties.
IS: The pollution levels in Delhi were hazardous during the week before the run. The court verdict on the Indian Medical Association appeal could have gone either way. Were you prepared for the worst case scenario?
AS: Can anyone be prepared for a worst-case scenario where there is nothing one can do? You can’t postpone the event, you can’t shift it to another venue. A global event which is impacted by the international federation schedule, broadcast interests, runners’ schedules cannot be rescheduled or altered like this. You cannot say let’s postpone Wimbledon if London is faced with alarming pollution levels.
I did understand the issue and respect the concerns. We had allowed the people to withdraw who did not want to run. What else can you do ten days prior to an event that has the No. 1 ranking in the world.
IS: This hazardous smog just before the onset of winters has become a regular phenomenon for the Capital. It is too early to ask this question, but in the wake of this threat will Procam International be considering other options – in terms of venue or timings?
AS: It is too early to answer. It will take a couple of months before we can reach a final decisions.