Dhaka Half Marathon is back…
Even just a few years ago, very few sporting events were happening in the country, let alone Dhaka. The trend is slowly changing and more and more events are happening. Dhaka Half Marathon is one of them.
Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” —Julie Isphording, former Olympic runner
Dhaka Half Marathon started back in 2018 and this year it was the second edition of this event. The running community has been very active in the last couple of years and we’re seeing a huge change in the country. Lots of people taking up running these days and the number is getting bigger and bigger, all thanks to the effort of BDRunners, Obhijatree etc. groups.
Last year I was privileged to be a pacer for the event and I was delighted when the organizers gave me the responsibility again this year. I was bestowed with a time of 1 hour 50 minutes to complete the half marathon. The pacing time was relatively fast for me but I was confident to make it.
The reporting time was 4:30 in the morning so I woke up at 3:30. Had a light meal and some light warmup to prepare my body for the Dhaka Half Marathon. The morning nature call was a problem though and I went to the loo three times to solve the problem. Can’t afford to have a runner’s stomach. Inevitably, that delayed me and I reached the venue at 5 AM.
After reaching the venue, I only found Mridha bhai, another fellow pacer. Afnan Ahmad, the race director, scolded me why other pacers still weren’t there and why I wasn’t not organizing them. I scrambled frantically to locate other pacers.
The organizers picked six pacers this year. They all were very accomplished in their running history so it was a great honor to represent them all.
What about that pacer kit?
The pacer kit was interesting though, bright pink colored jersey! And the flag was there again, it reminded me of the pain of last year. It was a struggle at the 2018 event to wear a vest and pacer flag at the back. This year I was supposed to carry it in one hand but still, it wasn’t too comforting when I kept thinking about it.
Meanwhile, Vijay reached the venue who came all the way from India to be a pacer for the event. Myself, Mridha bhai and Vijay started to jog towards the starting point which was around 1 kilometer away from the finishing point. There we found the other three, Thomas, Nripen da and Shovan there. I felt relieved to organize everyone before the start.
So, the six of us, “The Stick Brothers” – as Thomas put in his words, were introduced to the runners. The great thing about these events is that you get to catch up with the people. After all the pleasantries, it was time to focus on running. Just before the start though, the national anthem was played back on a speakerphone!!! Talk about drama indeed.
And then the start
At exact 6 AM, Afnan bhai signaled the start of Dhaka Half Marathon. The faster guys just sailed by. They were phenomenal. I wish I can run that fast. But I had a job at hand and I needed to set a steady pace for others to follow me.
The trend I always notice is that people start too fast out of the gate and then burn themselves out. The same thing also happened this time, as I saw plenty of runners started at a very fast pace. Even the runners who wanted to follow me left me from the get-go. I kept my pace nice and steady and soon enough I was catching the runners one by one.
The route for the Dhaka Half Marathon was to run around Hatirjheel around 3 times. My target was to finish the first lap within 30 minutes and remaining laps within 40 minutes to accomplish my time goal. Felt great from the start and finished the first lap in my predicted time. Only found one runner following me at that point.
On lap two,
My second lap was also going great but the runner who was following me got dropped midway to the lap. Later on the lap, I was joined by a Kiwi (Forgot to ask his name). We had a nice conversation and I found out that he completed Ironman triathlon as well. If you read this, please do comment below with your name. We ran together at a great pace and I finished the second lap 2 minutes faster than my expected target.
After the second lap, the sun came out. The weather was very hot and humid, very much unexpected at this time of the year. It slowly was taking a toll on my body. The Kiwi runner upped his tempo midway to the final lap. I followed his pace for a brief moment but found it way faster than the pace I needed to stick to. So I dropped the pace and he disappeared in the distance.
On the final stretch, I felt the sensations of muscle cramp but I knew I was ahead of my cut off time. Hence, I slowed down even more, not to cause any injury or muscle cramps before my quest to attempt the Bangla Channel Swim.
Soon, the finish line was there and I crossed it a minute faster than my predetermined time albeit a slower last lap. A job well done but would have had more fun if I found more people following me. Most of the run, I was by myself and isolated. And as I feared, my shoulder was in pain after carrying the flag on the run. All part of the responsibility of a pacer.
I always enjoy what comes after any event. You get to meet everyone, have fun and reflect on the race day. Had loads of pictures, chit chats, and food till the finisher medal handoff. It was really inspiring to so many people taking up running and active lifestyle. Even two of my office colleagues joined in for the mini-marathon, which was 7.5 kilometers. Seeing such changes do make me feel great.
Thanks to BDRunners, BDCyclists and Dhaka Run Lords for another successful Dhaka Half Marathon. My gratitude goes towards the volunteers who woke up all night and worked so hard to make this event great. The support was fabulous this year and on behalf of all the runners, I express my heartfelt gratitude. We all hope that this event keeps continuing and grows larger. I’ll be back again next year for sure.
Talking about BDCyclists, I went out with them on a Bike Packing trip and click here to read about that experience.
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