Kolkata: The poor management at the Kolkata 25 km run Sunday came under severe criticism after open category participants blocked the path of elite athletes near the finishing line.
The Tata Steel Kolkata 25K run witnessed around 15000 participants in different categories but the elite athletes struggled to finish as runners of open category came in their way from the last 5km mark onwards, leading to their poor timings.
Asian Games gold medallist distance runner Sudha Singh asked the organisers to change the elite section flag-off timing so that it’s not clashed with the open section. Sudha further lamented that there were no marshal for the second pack as they also lost their way.
Competing in her first event after winning a silver in the 3000m steeplechase in the Jakarta Asian Games, Sudha finished eighth overall and second among Indians, with a timing of 1:29:11.
“I am not complaining but it’s a request to get it corrected. You all know how the Delhi Half Marathon or Mumbai Full Marathon are conducted,” Sudha said.
“In the last stretch we had all the people walking, jogging along the way and there were even bottle sprayers. It creates a big problem.
“It’s not a new problem here, but a persisting one since the inaugural edition 2014. That is happening in the last 5 kilometres. I’ve been saying this for the last three years and hope they get it corrected in 2019.”
“There were also no marshal for the second pack so it was difficult for us to find the route. We even took a wrong route. It’s just a request to get it corrected,” the veteran runner from Raebareli said.
Sudha, however, said she was happy with her own timing as she returned after a rest period following the Asian Games in Indonesia.
“This will help in endurance. I will run in the Mumbai Marathon next month,” Sudha, who is eyeing the World Championship and Olympics qualifying marks, said.
The meet had a strong field but the records held by Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele (1:13:48) and compatriot Degitu Azmeraw (1:26:01) in the men’s and women’s sections stood intact.
Echoing Sudha’s views, Services runner Avinash Sable who finished first among the Indians in the men’s section, said even the timings of international runners were affected.
“There was a lot of disturbances from the open category. Cameramen were coming in front and it slowed down the race. If elite section is flagged off early from next year onwards, the quality of race will improve hugely. Common racers in the last 5km really affected the timing of the international runners as well.”
Andhra Pradesh’s L Suriya led the pack and was ahead of winner Dibaba Kuma till the 20km mark by one second, only to fall behind in the melee.
“She (Dibaba) was leading so cameras were focusing her. But seeing the cameras the open category runners got excited and came in front, thus blocking our path,” Suriya said.