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Dogs, traffic halt marathoners
Times of India
BANGALORE: "A man runs fastest when chased by a dog!" This was the response from an athlete who clocked his best timing in the Bangalore International Marathon on Sunday.
Just as the participants approached the 20-km mark on the service road in Kalyan Nagar, it was not the cheering crowds that greeted them, but barking dogs eager to snap at their heels. The first to bear the brunt were athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia, who were in the lead.
"It was very scary. Never in my career had I come across such a situation. It took me a while to recover from the shock," said Kenya’s Makau Nzioka, who finished second.
Such incidents raise a critical question: Is Bangalore ready to host such mega athletic events? Bangalore has hosted four "international" marathons with impressive response from participants. But the city as a whole hasn’t warmed to the concept. This was evident when motorists crossed the athletes’ path on many roads and many grew impatient when the police stopped traffic to make way for the athletes.
Another blunder that could have avoided is that of athletes being forced to take a break, thanks to chaotic traffic. The first instance was near Ulsoor lake when the winner, Ngira Nyaga, had to halt when the traffic moved, thanks to a policeman’s negligence who failed to notice the Kenyan approaching.
Another instance was near Cubbon Park, where the athletes were left twiddling their thumbs for almost 10 minutes, courtesy a traffic jam. The previous three editions too have had their share of problems with foreign athletes complaining about potholes and pollution.
On the other hand, cities like Mumbai and New Delhi, which took to hosting international marathons after Bangalore, have only success stories to tell about their events. Roads are barricaded and blocked in advance. The city as a whole — including celebrities from all walks of life — participates. On the other hand, on Sunday, it was a no-show from Bangalore celebrities, including prominent sportspersons.
It is a shame that foreign athletes are forced to take back memories of traffic jams, stray dogs and pollution.
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