It’s been some years now since I have written about Matunga. The idea was to start with a piece on the difference between the mental and pincode geographies of Matunga, but I couldn’t help but begin with this, given the growing menace of this problem.
If you are one of those 3-4 in a row pack road runners in Matunga, but ignorant of the danger you pose to other solo runners and to yourself, then read on... I hope this will get you to change your running behavior.
For those of you are not runners and have no clue what this is all about, here goes. Runners belonging to one of the many running groups that have come up in Matunga over the last few years, typically run together in a pack. Usually, there is one person in front and one at the back, the rest spread out in the middle. Many of those in the middle, run 3-4 together in a row, occupying and hogging most of the road as you can see in the figure below.
The pack runners are anyway in danger, the one closest to the median of the road running the risk of being mowed down by a car or a truck or one of those killer BEST buses that now plows the morning roads at dangerous speeds, paying no heed to traffic signals.
But the solo runner is also in danger with one of four options available, each with its own problems. One, run across to the other side of the road, with the danger of oncoming traffic? Two, run onto the median and then back, which perhaps is the most dangerous option? Three, plow through the pack with potential injuries all around? Or, four, run onto the pavement full of broken paver stones and potholes and twist an ankle? There is no good solution here, is there?
Matunga has good running roads, but they are narrow. Running in the morning means negotiating other runners, walkers, late night lovers on their way home, milkmen on cycles, recreational cyclists showing off their shiny clothes and helmets, bikers, private cars, cars with parents in a tearing hurry rushing to drop off their young kids to sports training in Don Bosco, taxis of all kinds, tempos, buses, trucks, dogs, cats and double-parked stationery cars with full headlights on. Except for the dogs and those headlight-on, double-parked stationery cars, all the rest are fine…a runner is always acutely aware of their surroundings and can easily adapt to the fluid situation, especially if they run facing the traffic.
But as a runner, I find it difficult to adjust to other runners who seem uncaring and oblivious to what they are doing. In the SIWS lane for example, every once in a while, I come across one particular private group of runners that just occupies the entire road from pavement to pavement, as if they own the space and everyone else is irrelevant. If you are reading this, you know who you are…please stop doing this!
So, if you are one of those 3-4 in a row pack runners, I hope I have convinced you to run single file, or at best, two abreast, from now on, both for your safety and the safety of solo runners coming towards you or from behind you. And, if you are the owner, manager or coach of Striders or Stunners, or any other similar running group that is doing a wonderful job getting people in Matunga to be physically active, please, please teach your runners some running etiquette. You really don’t want any one getting injured on your watch, do you!
I would love to hear your thoughts or views on this. Please comment below, though you will have to first subscribe with your email to do so.
If you know any runners who would benefit from reading this, please do share.
To read more about the health benefits of running, without the need to run marathons, you can check out my piece on my other site, Matka Medicine and Atmasvasth titled, Runnn…Not Race.
Thanks Bhavin Bhai for writing this. We are a part of Stunners and will instruct everyone in the group to follow the protocol.