Townscript caught up with one of the most inspired runners who has started a running culture in the cities of Maharashtra. Ruchira Darda, the founder of MahaMarathon. She has inspired people to run in major cities like Aurangabad, Nasik, and Nagpur.
This year she is bringing the sensational Lokmat MahaMarathon event to the Queen of Deccan – Pune. Ruchira’s dream was always to encourage running in the smaller cities of Maharashtra and through MahaMarathon she has fulfilled her dream.
Let’s hear in her own words on how did she organize huge marathons and motivate numerous people to take up running.
1. What inspired you to start running and what keeps you motivated to do it every day?
My mom woke up my sister and me each morning to either do yoga or go for a run since we were 16 or 17 years old. If mornings were committed she had a schedule planned for us in the evening. But my real tryst with fitness and running began after having gained 20 odd kilos post my first baby. Now it’s just an addiction.
2. You’ve been involved in organizing one of the biggest running events in Maharashtra. According to you what is the most challenging part of organizing a marathon and how you approach the same?
Marathons are a manpower intensive event. Over 1000 people are directly or indirectly involved with the final execution. The most challenging task is to pass on the seriousness of each planned element to every person involved. Sometimes people view their task as a simple chore but once the run leaves the gate every single person becomes crucial to smooth execution and flawless runner experience.
During the Nasik MahaMarathon we had two separate finish gate for the 3k/5k runners and the 10/21k runners but one person who had missed the briefing the previous day managed to, for a short while of course, change the flow of the event by mixing up the runners and sending them through the same finish gate
3. MahaMarathon is expanding to multiple cities every year. This year you have added Pune. What led you to choose Pune as the new city this year?
Pune is now the running capital of the state so it was the obvious choice. Also since Lokmat daily has become the favorite newspaper of the city so we couldn’t stay away. MahaMarathon had to come to Pune!
4. What are your future plans for the next seasons of MahaMarathon? Do you see your event reaching out to cities in other states as well?
We are keen to expand to different cities in the state in the coming years but besides focusing on the expansion our foremost concern is to make our event experience more and more memorable for our runners and all those associated with us.
5. MahaMarathon this year is being sponsored by Wintogeno and many other sponsors. How does your team approach renowned sponsors like that? Our readers, who’re new to event organization, would love some tips about getting sponsorship for their events.
In the first event achieving the sponsorship requirement was impossible. But we have been able to showcase the quality of our event and we have been constantly growing to ensure a satisfying experience to our sponsors and associates.
6. What do you think is the biggest misconception about marathons or marathon runners, that you’d like to clear up?
People have a common misconception that only if you run can you participate in a marathon. The beauty of a running event is that everyone is finisher. It is really not about competing but about completing.
7. Your marathon has consistently seen an amazing turnout of 5000+ runners in every city. How do you market your marathons and what is the key to such fast growth?
We have a well-rounded approach ranging from traditional media to personally approaching prospective runners. Since Lokmat Media is connected to people through various channels we are able to reach out to a larger audience.
8. What were your key goals when you started organizing MahaMarathon and how many of them have you already achieved?
My ambition was to bring a complete marathon experience to smaller cities, full of entertainment, a grand production yet not comprising on the technicalities of the event. I feel proud that we have been able to achieve these from the very first event and we aim to improvise and add more to the event every year.
9. How has Townscript helped you with your marathon-organizing journey?
Townscript connected us to experienced runners ensuring a reach and effective communication about the MahaMarathon. Also to date runners have had a seamless experience with registrations which I think is the first step in the experience we are aiming to create.
10. As a trainer, marathon organizer and avid-runner, what’s the most memorable marathon track you have run on – and why?
The first is always special. My first run was Along the Ellora caves. I still remember that feeling when I was approaching the finish line I felt like I was on top of the world. I carry that memory with me everywhere. So yes that run will always be the most memorable.
11. What is your major focus while selecting a marathon route?
We want the run to be easily accessible to all our runners. We want them to run through the heart of the city so while they are accomplishing their personal targets they ignite aspiration in the hearts of the bystanders.
12. What are the few things that you and your team focus on to ensure a great experience for runners while organizing a marathon?
While the technical features are of key importance to us, Lokmat Media Group has a robust event team, hence elements of entertainment and high-quality production of the event become extremely important to us.
13. Do you have some tips for new organizers on how to search and select the best pacers for giving the best experience to runners?
I am sure everyone looks for pacers who have great performance record but in addition to this for the MahaMarathon it is essential that our pacers have empathy toward the runners who they are pacing. We look for people who value the trust of the organizers and the runners they are leading.
14. What are some of the upcoming marathons that runner’s community expect from you in the upcoming year?
For 2019 in addition to Nasik, Aurangabad, Kolhapur and Nagpur MahaMarathon, we have introduced the Pune MahaMarathon. Both Nagpur MM and Pune MM are coming up in February.
Register for Nagpur MahaMarathon
Register for Pune MahaMarathon
15. What advice will you like to share with our readers who are looking forward to organizing a marathon?
As fellow organizers, I would want them not view other organizers as competition instead we must see each other as associates. It’s fairly simple if I create even one runner through my event he is not going to wait a whole year to run he will seek other runs during the year, hence we have added one to the road running community. If we can become advisory to each other instead of competitors we will stand true to the sport. Finally isn’t running about spreading the message of a soulful lifestyle and a happy mind.
Thank you Ruchira, it was great to have you on Townscript.