PACERS TO HELP RUNNERS ACHIEVE THEIR TARGETS AT MUMBAI ULTRA

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From left: Dr Gayatri Thakoor, Dr Anand Patil, Savio D’Souza, Dr P.S. Ramani, Dr Girish, Usha Soman and Naveen Hegde at Wednesday’s press briefing on the 2018 edition of The Mumbai Ultra – 12 Hour Run (Photo: courtesy Ashok Someshwar)

The fifth edition of The Mumbai Ultra – 12 Hour Run, held every August, will for the first time have pacers to help runners complete various distances.

The minimum distance for which pacers have been assigned is 50 kilometers and the maximum, 85. There are also categories in between.

The ultra-run to be held on August 15, 2018, is expected to see participation by about 500 runners.

Several others will pitch in as support runners at the event, which is a non-competitive 12 hour-run.

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Dr P. S. Ramani (Photo: courtesy Ashok Someshwar)

“ The Mumbai Ultra is focused on the message: Wellness over Illness,’’ Naveen Hegde, marathon runner and one of the organizers of the event, said at a press briefing in Mumbai on Wednesday (August 8).

The run lasting from 5 AM to 5 PM takes the format of an ultramarathon with participants running more than the regular marathon distance of 42.2 kilometers.

Eighty-year-old Dr P.S. Ramani, well-known neurosurgeon, is the brand ambassador of this year’s Mumbai Ultra. He had earlier told this blog that he planned to be on his feet for most of the 12 hour-period.

Usha Soman, 78, former professor of biochemistry and mother of model, actor and endurance athlete Milind Soman, will be participating for the second year in a row in Mumbai Ultra.

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Usha Soman (Photo: courtesy Ashok Someshwar)

Runners are required to run loops of approximately 12 kilometers starting from MGM Swimming Pool at Shivaji Park and going on to Worli Sea Face and back. During the 12 hour period, the participants have to undergo mandatory medical check-up, usually at the end of every loop.

Four aid stations will be set up to cater to the hydration and refreshment needs of the runners. In a move that brings together the city’s various running groups, some of these aid stations will be supported by volunteers from Borivali National Park (BNP) Runners, Savio Stars and Mumbai Road Runners.

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Savio D’Souza (Photo: courtesy Ashok Someshwar)

Coach Savio D’Souza is the race director and Dr Gayatri Thakoor is the medical director of the event. The medical team consists of 11 doctors, para-medicos and physiotherapists from KEM Hospital and Sion Hospital. Dr Abhishek Bangera’s Sai Physiotherapy Clinic is the recovery partner.

Sponsors of the event include Edelweiss, Enerzal, Sri Sri Tattva and Idealake.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

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RUNNERS GEAR UP FOR 2018 MUMBAI ULTRA

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This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Mumbai Ultra (Photo credit: Yugandhara Chaudhari)

This is the original, non-competitive, welcoming event that helped many runners in the city realize that they can tackle ultra-distances and be up on their feet for long hours. This year the Mumbai Ultra wishes to see more women participating.

“I would like to test my ability to run for 12 hours,” naval officer, Commander Mandeep Kaur, said.

She is part of a 25-strong contingent from the Indian Navy due to participate in the fifth edition of the Mumbai Ultra: a 12-hour run.

Fifteen runners from the Indian Coast Guard will also be taking part in the event, scheduled for August 15.

This time around, Mumbai Ultra is making a departure from the norm in its entry rules. Entrants will have to submit proof of having done a full marathon distance or any distance in excess of 42.2 kilometres.

So far, 300 entries have come in for the 400 slots available for the 12-hour run.

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This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Mumbai Ultra (Photo credit: Ashok Someshwar)

“We would like to have more entries from women runners. Towards that, we have decided to relax the mandatory requirement of a full marathon to enroll here,” Naveen Hegde, one of the organisers of the running event, said.

“We have decided to accept entries from women who have completed 25 kilometre-run or a six-hour run and are confident of sustaining 12 hours on their feet,” he said. Mumbai Ultra will re-open for registration for a short period to enable women who are eligible so, to register for the event, he said. A message on the event’s Facebook page informed that online registration will be available afresh from 10 AM to 10 PM on August 1.

The event that starts at 5 AM on August 15 will see participants repeating a loop from Shivaji Park to Worli Sea Face in central Mumbai for 12 hours.

Mumbai’s well-known coach Savio D’Souza has been roped in as race director for the 2018 edition.

Among senior runners expected to participate in this year’s Mumbai Ultra are 80-year-old Dr P.S. Ramani, well-known neurosurgeon; 78-year-old Usha Soman, former professor of biochemistry and mother of model, actor and endurance athlete, Milind Soman and 71-year-old Kamalaksha Rao, a recreational runner.

Edelweiss is one of the main sponsors of the event and FDC, which manufactures energy drink, Enerzal, is the supporting sponsor.

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This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Mumbai Ultra (Photo credit: Ashok Someshwar)

This year, Mumbai Ultra also plans to have pacer buses for various distances such as 50 km, 65 km, 70 km, 75 km, 80 km and 85 km.

“I have heard that it is a very-well organised run,” Commander Mandeep Kaur said adding that she has done an eight-hour run during one of her practice sessions. She commenced running a year ago and has participated in many running events including BNP Ultra running a distance of 50 km.

Dr Ramani has been running for about 30 years. At 80 years of age, he seemed undeterred by the hours of running required at Mumbai Ultra. “One thing I can say is that I will not be resting during those hours. I hope to be on my feet,” he said adding that he has been to several marathons over the years.

“I have participated in Mumbai Marathon every year since its inception. Initially, I used to run the full marathon distance but now I do the half marathon,” he told this blog.

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This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of Mumbai Ultra (Photo credit: Ashok Someshwar)

Mumbai Ultra is a well organised event, Kamalaksha Rao said.

“Last year, I was aiming to run 50 km but ended up doing 60 km due to the fantastic arrangements, such as medical team and physio team every 2 km on the route. The hydration and aid stations are so well-stocked that we get the confidence to do our best,” he said.

For many runners in the city, Mumbai Ultra is the original, non-competitive, welcoming event that helped them realize that they can tackle ultra distances and be up on their feet for long hours.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

 

MUMBAI ULTRA / SEE YOU AGAIN IN 2018

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By 4 PM on Sunday, August 13, 2017, Usha Soman had surprised herself with her performance at the Mumbai Ultra: 12 hour run.

She had completed a distance of 44 km covering four loops of 11 km each.

At 78, she was the oldest participant among the 500 runners who enrolled for the run.

Kamalaksha Rao, another septuagenarian, also surprised himself by running 60 km against his expectation of 50 km.

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The chaos of vehicles and the mix of rainy ambiance and blazing sun appeared daunting but the runners seemed enthusiastic notching up mileage.

“Heavy traffic was a bit of a downer but otherwise it was an amazing event,” said Chetan Pujary, who was attempting an event of this nature for the first time.

The 11 km loop that commenced from Shivaji Park in Mumbai and went on to Worli Sea Face and back offered a mix of roads buzzing with traffic and peaceful seafront. The occasional drizzle offered some respite to the runners, who were on their feet from 5 AM to 5 PM.

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Milling among the crowd of runners at the finish line was Lt Col Sundaresan Renganathan (Retd), who completed his 36th marathon at the Mumbai Ultra. His aim was to run 50 marathons at 50 locations over 50 weeks. His project ` Run with a Soldier, Run for a Soldier’ aimed at raising funds for the families of martyred soldiers. He started his endeavour on December 11, 2016.

Mumbai Ultra’s absolute flat route and great support lend some respite to Sundaresan, who has been travelling across the country and running on varying terrain including at the Kargil International Marathon.

At the event, volunteer and medical support came in for frequent mention by most runners Outrigger spoke to. Seventy two-year old Primla Hingorani, also known affectionately as Aunty 72, had turned up to volunteer for the event at 5 AM. At 5 PM, she was waiting at the finish line to welcome runners with medals.

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Among the many accomplished runners doing the loops were Satish Gujaran, Sunil Lahigude, Shibani Gharat and Preeti Lala. It was easy to spot Preeti Lala with her characteristic bandana.

Preeti had won the 12-hour Mumbai Stadium run held in June 2017. She had then notched up a distance of 89.2 km. Here she topped the distance by another four kilometres to end at 93 km.

“I was able to run quite strongly. The experience was awesome. Except for having to cope with the traffic everything else went smoothly. Fantastic support by many runner groups,” she wrote in later.

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At the finish line, there was a constant refrain one heard from runners: it was an awesome event with great volunteer support.

Most runners milling at the finish line said they would continue participating in this event next year too.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

2017 MUMBAI ULTRA / THE MUCH LOVED RUN RETURNS

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From left: Milind Soman, Usha Soman and Naveen Hegde (Photo: Latha Venkatraman)

“I hope to be on my feet for 12 hours,” said 78-year-old Usha Soman.

The former professor of bio-chemistry and mother of model, actor and endurance athlete, Milind Soman, will be the oldest participant in the fourth edition of the Mumbai Ultra: a 12-hour run. She hopes to cover a distance of 40-45 kilometers. The youngest participant is 18-years-old. Apart from Usha Soman, three more persons in their seventies will be participating.

Unlike the previous editions when the event was held on Independence Day, August 15, this time the 12-hour run will be held on August 13, a Sunday. “Due to security reasons, the run date was decided as August 13 and not August 15,” Naveen Hegde, one of the organizers of the running event said at a press briefing in Mumbai on Tuesday (August 8, 2017).

Participants are expected to run loops of 11-12 kilometers starting from MGM Swimming Pool at Shivaji Park, from 5 AM till 5 PM.

“This is an iconic running event with a strict cap on the number of runners. This time there will be 500 runners,” said Milind, who earlier this year completed the Ultraman.

“It is quite a privilege for the city to have an ultra-running event in the heart of the city,” Milind said adding that he will be participating in it for the first time.

About 300-400 volunteers will be engaged in fulfilling various needs of the runners alongside 100 doctors and physiotherapists.

Col Gulshan Chaddha (Retd), Principal of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, has been roped in as the race director.

Usha Soman’s foray into this running event can be traced back to a video clip of her running barefoot alongside her son Milind during his Ahmedabad-Mumbai run last year. The video went viral at that time prompting the septuagenarian to take up this challenge. She will mostly resort to walking, though not barefoot.

“It is all a mind game. Unless we try we won’t know what we are capable of,” she said.

The endurance event is aimed to act as a reminder to people about healthy living.

Endurance sport is not merely about sport. It’s a lifestyle, says Milind. One has to focus on food, sleep and other aspects. Later this year, Milind plans to run from Dimapur to Kohima. And next year he plans to attempt double Ironman.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

 

DAY TWO / 2017 IFSC WORLD CUP, NAVI MUMBAI

Shauna clinches 2017 World Cup series and Navi Mumbai gold / Jongwon Chon strikes gold in men’s

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Photo and imaging: Shyam G Menon

Jongwon Chon of Korea and Shauna Coxsey of Great Britain triumphed in the men’s and women’s categories respectively at the final of the IFSC World Cup in Bouldering held in Navi Mumbai on Sunday.

For Shauna who has been leading by a wide margin in terms of aggregate points in the 2017 World Cup series, a place in the final at Navi Mumbai – the penultimate event in the series – was more than enough to ensure that her rivals won’t be able to catch up and deprive her of the title. She won the series and added another individual World Cup crown; all at Navi Mumbai. Last year in Navi Mumbai Shauna couldn’t secure a podium finish although she ended the 2016 World Cup series topping it in the women’s section.

In the men’s category, Rei Sugimoto of Japan placed second while Aleksei Rubtsov of Russia was third. In the women’s category, Miho Nonaka of Japan placed second, while Akiyo Noguchi, also of Japan, placed third. Following the competition results at Navi Mumbai, the overall lead in the men’s category is now with Jongwon Chon; he has 426 points. He is followed by Aleksei Rubtsov of Russia and Keita Watabe of Japan, both tied at 372. In the women’s section, Shauna Coxsey has 535 points in total, followed by Miho Nonaka of Japan (377) and Janja Garnbret of Slovenia (370). Janja was not present at Navi Mumbai.

In terms of national team ranking in bouldering, post Navi Mumbai, Japan has zoomed to 2118 points overall.  Great Britain (886) is second while Slovenia (855) is third.

Sunday’s final was a thrilling affair with the climbing routes designed by the route setters, stretching the athletes. Even the best of them had to think their way through some of the problems on the wall. Earlier in the day, the semi-final was held featuring 20 athletes each from the men’s and women’s categories, who had made it past Saturday’s qualifying round. Six from each category moved to the final. Officials familiar with the ongoing World Cup series said that a ninth place finish in Navi Mumbai would have been enough for Shauna Coxsey to clinch the series. But she not only made it to the last six; she went on to win the final denied her last year on the same stage.

Please find below a selection of photos from the final, the moments following it and the semi-final.

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Jongwon Chon of Korea (center), Rei Sugimoto of Japan (left) and Aleksei Rubtsov of Russia who secured gold, silver and bronze respectively in the men’s category at the 2017 IFSC World Cup in Bouldering at Navi Mumbai on Sunday (Photo: Shyam G Menon)
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Shauna Coxsey of Great Britain (center), Miho Nonaka (left) and Akiyo Noguchi of Japan who won gold, silver and bronze medals respectively in the women’s category at the 2017 IFSC World Cup in Bouldering at Navi Mumbai on Sunday (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Shauna Coxsey of Great Britain who won gold in the women’s category at the 2017 IFSC World Cup in Bouldering at Navi Mumbai and in the process became the women’s champion of the current World Cup series, gets a hug from teammate Leah Crane (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Jongwon Chon autographs for his fans (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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The real heroes of the final; the IFSC’s team of route setters. From left: Julien Gras, Percy Bishton, Manuel Hassler and Gen Hirashima (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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The finalists in the women’s category (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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The finalists in the men’s category (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

From the semi-final:

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(Text and photos by Shyam G Menon. He is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

DAY ONE / 2017 IFSC WORLD CUP, NAVI MUMBAI

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Day one of the World Cup saw the qualifying rounds for men and women.

From the men’s category, the following athletes have made it to the semi-final:

Kokoro Fujii (Japan), Dmitrii Shrafutdinov (Russia), Tomoa Narasaki (Japan), Aleksei Rubtsov (Russia), Jan Hojer (Germany), Yoshiyuki Ogata (Japan), Meichi Narasaki (Japan), Jakob Schubert (Austria), Gholamali Bharatzadeh (Iran), Simon Unger (Germany), Jongwon Chon (Korea), Jernej Kruder (Slovenia), David Firnenburg Germany), Tsukuru Hori (Japan), Anze Peharc (Slovenia), Gregor Vezonik (Slovenia), Rei Sugimoto (Japan), Vadim Timonov (Russia), William Ridal (Great Britain) and Keita Watabe (Japan).

From the women’s category, the following athletes made it to the semi-final:

Shauna Coxsey (Great Britain), Katja Kadic (Slovenia), Miho Nonaka (Japan), Akiyo Noguchi (Japan), Ekatirina Kipriianova (Russia), Mei Kotake (Japan), Sol Sa (Korea), Monika Retschy (Germany), Michaela Tracy (Great Britain), Berit Schwaiger (Austria), Johanna Farber (Austria), Petra Klingler (Switzerland), Aya Onoe (Japan), Elnaz Rekabi (Iran), Alma Bestvater (Germany), Alannah Yip (Canada), Leah Crane (Great Britain), Hung Ying Lee (Taiwan), Julija Kruder (Slovenia) and Chloe Caulier (Belgium).

As in 2016, no Indian athlete made it to the semi-final.

The semi-finals will be held Sunday (June 25) morning and the finals, that evening.

This is the second time the World Cup in Bouldering is being held in Navi Mumbai. Last time – in May 2016 – Kokoro Fujii and Miho Nonaka had triumphed in the men’s and women’s categories respectively. The event held under the aegis of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) is organized by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and Girivihar, Mumbai’s oldest mountaineering club.

Please scroll down for photos from day one of the World Cup. Featured are photos from the qualifying rounds for men and women.

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(Text and photos by Shyam G Menon. He is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

102 ATHLETES REGISTER FOR 2017 IFSC WORLD CUP IN NAVI MUMBAI

Please scroll down for more reports and photos from the run up to the World Cup.

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(From left) Julien Gras, Manuel Hassler, Percy Bishton and Gen Herashima; the IFSC’s route setting team for the 2017 World Cup in Bouldering due at Navi Mumbai (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

As of June 19, the last date for athletes to register, a total of 102 climbers had registered to compete at the 2017 World Cup in Bouldering due at Navi Mumbai over June 24-25.

The countries represented include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Great Britain, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Nepal, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand and Taiwan.

The competition under the aegis of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC), is organized by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and Girivihar, Mumbai’s oldest mountaineering club.

Bouldering is one of the three main disciplines under sport climbing, itself an offshoot of rock climbing. Bouldering is climbing simplified. Use of gear is kept to a minimum. The climber uses climbing shoes for his feet and chalk powder to keep his hands dry. At the competition, climbing is done on indoor bouldering walls. The climber’s fall from the wall is cushioned using crash pads. In bouldering, the height of the climb is modest but the moves can be extremely difficult.

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CIDCO Convention / Exhibition Center in Vashi, venue for the IFSC World Cup in Navi Mumbai (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Another view of the competition venue in Vashi, Navi Mumbai (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

This is the second time the World Cup is taking place in Navi Mumbai.

As per the IFSC website, last year at Navi Mumbai, there were 38 participants in the women’s category and 42 in the men’s making for a total of 80 participants. In 2016, the Japanese had secured four of the six positions on the podium in Navi Mumbai with Kokoro Fujii and Miho Nonaka winning top honours in the men’s and women’s categories respectively. The IFSC World Cup is a series of competitions held at various locations worldwide, every year. It is similar to Formula One with winners announced for each World Cup and overall winners declared on the strength of points accumulated in a series.

By Sunday (June 18) evening, the route setters dispatched by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) for this year’s event, were all in place. The team led by Manuel Hassler also includes Gen Hirashima, Percy Bishton and Julien Gras. Manuel and Gen were part of the route setting team in 2016. Julien is visiting India after a gap of 12 years. On his earlier trip this side exploring climbing destinations in India, he had climbed with Girivihar (for more on what route setters do at a competition please click on this link:  https://shyamgopan.wordpress.com/2016/05/09/the-puzzle-makers/).

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Work underway on climbing walls at the venue of the upcoming IFSC World Cup in Bouldering at Vashi, Navi Mumbai (Photo: Shyam G Menon).

Unlike in 2016 when a bouldering wall was imported for use in the competition, this time the competition is wholly on indigenously built climbing walls. The mix on stage in 2016 was one imported wall and one locally built wall; the latter performed handsomely. Addressing one of the points noted in competition feedback last year, the imported wall is set to be used as warm-up wall in the isolation space reserved for athletes. While the event venue remains the same, the total space used and the orientation of the same, has changed. Of the two identical large halls at the CIDCO Convention / Exhibition Center in Vashi, it is the hall closer to the main entrance that is being used this time. The space dividing the two halls is planned to be used as isolation making the competition lay-out more compact than it was in 2016, members of the organizing team said.

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Work in progress (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Sunday (June 18) night; the first wall gets a coat of paint (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Monday (June 19) night; one wall done and handed over to the route setters, the second wall receives its competition colours (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Although the monsoon has officially set in over Mumbai, the classic Indian monsoon that lashes the city with prolonged spells of heavy rain is yet to manifest. It is warm and humid. The occasional rain cools the ambiance. Everyone is hoping for good rains for its necessity exceeds World Cup. Given a significant portion of the Indian economy still depends on agriculture, the monsoon is life itself.

Sunday at the competition venue, reminded of the young country India is now, demographically. While work on the climbing wall continued within, in the enclosed vacant space just outside, a team of college students tested the single seat-race car they built for an upcoming Formula Student event overseas.

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Tuesday (June 20) evening; the warm-up wall for athletes – last year’s imported wall – being assembled. This is for use by athletes once they are in the isolation zone, which is the phase preceding competition (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Tuesday (June 20) evening at the competition venue; another one of those daily brief spells of rain that has been the monsoon so far. (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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At the competition venue; Mangesh Takarkhede keeps track of work (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Rahul Patel, climber from Mumbai, has volunteered for the World Cup since June 12. Almost ten days later, by Wednesday, June 21, the number of volunteers at site had grown to a very modest number; climbers had reported from Bengaluru and Delhi to volunteer with more expected in a couple of days. Yet it is a far cry from 2016 when the general enthusiasm to dare the challenge of hosting a World Cup and make it happen, saw several people reach Navi Mumbai to pitch in and help. Something about moving away from pioneering an event to repeating it, robs a dash of zest from proceedings. On the other hand, there is the benefit of lessons learnt and progressive evolution of systems.

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Two familiar faces who turned up to volunteer on Wednesday (June 21): Kumar Gourav from Delhi and Madhu from Bengaluru (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

In 2016, problems around the imported wall – it arrived with a few components missing, requiring the technical team to put their heads together and innovate a solution – had eaten into the time earmarked for the route setters to complete their work. As a result, one of the unforgettable vignettes of this critical, bleak phase was the indefatigable Neerav Desai laboring round the clock to move concrete blocks and slabs. It was thus frenzied work on the wall even on the eve of competition. This time both the competition walls and the warm-up wall are already up. On Wednesday the route setters were busy putting up routes, while a team of climber-volunteers plastered the warm-up wall with holds of their choice.

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The walls’ rear with counter weights neatly in place (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Where innovation was demanded in 2016, to raise the imported wall to the height of the stage and then weigh its scaffolding down with concrete blocks and slabs for counter weight, this time around the walls’ rear appeared imagined in advance with counter weights and ratchets neatly in place. On Wednesday evening, as the volunteers and the wall-crew sat down to a richly deserved round of samosa and tea, Rahul said pointing to the two competition walls, “ they did a good job, aligning the faces and setting it up in time.”

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Light and sound gear arrived at site (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

On the other side of the hall, facing the two competition walls and some distance away from it, the raised platforms that will seat dignitaries and officials besides housing the console for the event’s broadcast technicians and their electronic hardware, was also up. On the first floor, shielded by large glass panes overlooking the arena, the event organizers’ office had begun humming with activity.  Sandeep Varadkar, a wealth of energy and indispensable for climbing events in Mumbai, was there, as was Sharad Chandra, among best known photographers of climbing in India. According to Mangesh Takarkhede, who has been busy managing things at site for the past few days, a meeting of all volunteers is scheduled for Friday (June 23), 2 PM.

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The raised platforms for dignitaries, officials and technical crew (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Thursday (June 22) afternoon; at long last we have a classic monsoon day. On a scale of one to ten, we were at about five on how the rains usually visit Mumbai. The downpour was strong but yet again, not of lengthy duration. Nevertheless it was sufficient to make the world grey, reduce the temperature and have the office going reach for their umbrellas while college going youngsters elected to get drenched. It was more or less pleasant at the competition venue too. Thursday marked the official commencement of air conditioning at site.

(Late night, at the time of writing, we have another round of rain.)

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At last, a classic monsoon day as the heavens open up June 22 afternoon. The view from a railway station not far from the competition venue (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Trucks on the premises as more gear arrives (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

At the venue, the scene was one of even more gear unloaded. Lights were installed and tested. The giant digital screen was assembled. Closer to the venue’s entrance, signboards and publicity paraphernalia was readied. On the first floor, the organizers’ office was active. The backpacks piling up in one corner indicated the rising frequency of volunteers’ arrival. A portion  of the office now served as location for the live streaming crew’s console. All IFSC World Cups are streamed live on the internet. Through all this, on the arena floor, the route setters continued their work on the two competition walls. In an irony of sorts, while they got the walls earlier this year (barring some delay in getting some of the imported climbing holds), their work load is more than in 2016. Reason – the number of competitors has gone up to 102. It requires more climbing routes to be designed. It was a different story on the warm-up wall located to the rear of the main arena. With a plethora of holds put up, it attracted the attention of climber-volunteers reported at the venue. The temptation was too hard to resist. Many donned climbing shoes and had a go. As one enthusiast said gleefully, “ it isn’t always that you get to climb in air conditioned comfort in Mumbai.”

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The entrance to the venue (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Signboards are readied (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Equipment at site (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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The giant digital screen is installed (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Like honey to bees, the warm-up wall attracts the attention of climber-volunteers at the venue (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Thursday evening was less than two days from competition’s start. Yet the ambiance at site was one of relative calm; there was no terrible anxiety or panic. Sandeep Varadkar, who is usually part of every competition’s core team and is among the busiest, was happy at the emergent lightness of being. Same time 2016, he, Vaibhav Mehta, Neerav Desai, Rohan Gawand – they were all breaking their heads over the faults in a climbing wall, freshly imported for that year’s world cup (that wall now serves as warm-up wall). Joining them, head in his hands, was the representative of the manufacturer, himself taken aback at the state of the wall. In several ensuing hours of innovation, fabrication, welding and hard labour, the wall was readied in time for the competition. “ This time, although we gathered urgency rather late, I am steadily completing the tasks on my list. Thanks to the lessons from last year, we anticipated problems better and planned accordingly.  Right now, I am actually helping to put up banners. Can you imagine that?” Sandeep said smiling. Further, a major difference from 2016 has been the level of outsourcing. Where climber volunteers ran around for most things earlier, this time, contractors and their crew are responsible for assigned portions of the work. “ Still, there will be some last minute running around. That’s bound to happen,” he said.

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At a World Cup once again; Sandeep Varadkar and Vivek Thakur (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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The event’s live streaming crew at their console in the organizing team’s office (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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The arena lights being tested before they are hoisted up (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

The drift to World Cup will officially start, tomorrow. Those into climbing or loving the sport have been requested to take the day off from work and volunteer at site. Technical teams and volunteer teams will meet. Athlete registrations will happen and the countdown will begin to another rendezvous with the IFSC World Cup.

 

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June 23: athletes at the warm-up wall (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Friday, June 23, eve of the World Cup: It was a day of meetings. It was also a day of last minute purchases, market visits for items overlooked. There were briefings for volunteers and competition judges, followed by athletes’ registration and a briefing for the various teams. Senior officials – from the side of the organizers and the participants – were at the venue. The warm-up wall attracted its share of athletes. Unlike in 2016 when most of the athletes turned up to register personally, this time, some of the athletes presented themselves at the registration desk while the rest were represented by their respective team managers.

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Mangesh, Dilip Lagu, President, Girivihar, Abhijit Burman aka Bong (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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The organizers’ office gets buzzing (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

 

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Volunteers at their briefing (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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IFSC’s Technical Director and the competition’s Chief of Jury hold a meeting with  their team members (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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President, Girivihar with senior officials of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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The team that oversaw athletes’ registration (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

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The briefing for athletes and team managers (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Athletes’ briefing (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

 

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Eve of World Cup; view of the venue floor from the organizers’ office (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

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Photo: Shyam G Menon

Late evening, June 23, with much of the work at venue getting over, the space before the stage was cleared providing a better sense of layout.

Outside, blue lights cloaked the entrance to the venue.

The 2017 IFSC World Cup at Navi Mumbai begins today (June 24).

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai. For an earlier report on the 2017 World Cup including information on how the ongoing World Cup series has shaped up, please click on this link: https://shyamgopan.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/ifsc-world-cup-returns-to-navi-mumbai/)