Running fans have longed for the thrill of running events since the start of Covid-19. One runner wrote about what it was like to run with other people again

Yesterday, I ended my five year break from running events. The Tata Steel Kolkata 25k 10km race was my first since the Brighton Full Marathon in April 2018. It was also my first mass participation event after the end of the pandemic and the timing and location were great. Now, the Tata Mumbai Marathon remains my favourite; but running in Kolkata on a nippy midwinter morning, the course that snaked its way past the Victoria Memorial, Maidan course, Racecourse to the Garden of Eden, is now a distant second.

The 10km (the first race starting at 5:40am) is a popular distance, and there are plenty of runners. I managed to avoid a light push on the starting line by sticking to one side of the road. The feeling of running with other people once again is a wonderful feeling, I’ve missed it. Distances seem magically shorter when you’re surrounded by so many other people running toward the same goal.

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We started at dawn and thick fog covered the wide open expanses on both sides of the race route. Crowd support in Kolkata was sparse and next to non-existent compared to Mumbai so, to make up for it, race organizers filled the route with loud performers and music. There are traditional Bengal drummers playing it Dhak only 500m from the start line. Upbeat music certainly helps to increase the pace as many runners tend to follow a beat. As we walked towards the Maidan, we ran past people with kit bags walking to play cricket while some football match was already going on.

Before I knew it, I was at the 5km mark, running around the canton neighborhood near colonial Fort William. The course takes place along the Race Course and then turns at the 7km mark. It then leads to one side of the Victoria Memorial boundary wall, before turning right into a building that is synonymous with the city. As the race progresses, the crowd tends to thin out if you’re a little fast. So, by the time I turned near the Victoria, running along the race line was easy with nothing cutting or getting in my way. Overly enthusiastic runners jostling for a quick start, as well as novice runners, are already 3 km behind. I was thrown back in time about 12 years ago when I didn’t know how to pace myself, and found myself appreciating the benefits that experience brings.

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I was feeling good and running at a steady, even pace after a rather fast start when my Garmin (I’m using two, the FR 255S Music and the Venu SQ2 Music, to compare performance) told me I had run the first kilometer about 15% faster from my average speed today. I consciously slowed down a bit so as not to struggle my way to the finish line and see a lot of people overtaking me. However, as I covered the 6km, I found that many of them were exhausted, or getting tired, and I was able to easily overtake them.

Passing runners is a good feeling. Perhaps, as good and liberating as managing to overtake a ridiculous driver holding up traffic. Several other people who also held back from catching up with me – including someone I know – ran past me in the final 500m. Being overtaken isn’t a great feeling, especially near the finish line, when I’m really accelerating and making the best use of the ASICs MetaSpeed ​​Edge carbon race shoe. But I also managed to pass some of the runners who were in front of me and that made me feel satisfied again.

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I enjoy racing and went out for breakfast with three friends I had assembled by car for the race. One thing we can all agree on is that the organization of this event has improved every year since we ran it for the first time in 2014. I think this is an almost as slick production as the Tata Mumbai Marathon. Yesterday’s race had me planning another race with friends next year. Just for fun, not a personal note.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of Shivafit Streeta book on functional fitness.

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