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When Manipal Runs – The Manipal Marathon

Manipal University, in association with the Manipal Runners Club, Udupi Amateur Athletic Association, Proton Sports, and the Volunteer Services Organization, organized the first ever Manipal Marathon, which kicked off at KMC Greens on the 5th of March. The event was based on the theme of stroke awareness. VSO, the official social service wing of Manipal University, helped break any barriers that might have been set by the contingents of MU. Six schools participated in Carnival de Manipal, each putting their own spin onto the topic at hand.

The whole venue was divided into three segments, with the first being the awareness sector, where different groups of schools put up stalls to contribute to the noble cause in ways unique to them. For example, WGSHA, MU’s school for Hotel Management, focused on awareness pertaining to diets and how someone can prevent strokes by eating clean.  MCOPS, the school for Pharmaceutical Sciences, highlighted the effects and of substance abuse and the concrete steps that must be taken to loosen the hold it might have on its victim. MCODS, the Manipal College of Dental Sciences, went into the intricacies of consequences of tobacco usage, and brought to the foreground its abhorrent effect on dental hygiene. MCON, being MU’s nursing school, gave the audience a general overview of lifestyle diseases. MIT, MU’s school of engineering, ventured out into the technological advancements made to prevent and suspend these diseases. Kasturba Medical College (KMC), enlightened the spectators of the various physical fitness regimes one could follow to prevent a premature stroke.

The event through which KMC managed to capture everyone’s eyes, the “Stroke Awareness Marathon”, started off with a gathering of early birds at 6:30 am. As the name suggests, it aimed at spreading awareness about strokes. A flag hoisting ceremony which was graced by the presence of Superintendent of the Police of Udupi District KT Balakrishna, Pro-Chancellor Dr HS Balal, and MIT’s Director, GK Prabhu, marked the beginning of the marathon. The more arduous rounds, the 21 km event and the 10 km event, had its starting line behind the huge stage in KMC Greens. They were followed by the 5 km and finally the round with the most participation, the 3 km. While the former two events didn’t have any further classifications, the 5 km and the 3 km events were divided into ‘Open’, ‘Senior Citizens’, ‘Corporate’ and ‘Children’. The 5 km and the 3 km events had their starting line in front of the KMC Food Court.

To calculate the time taken by each participant to complete the race, a chip was stuck on their shoelaces. The moment the participants stepped on the mat present at the starting line, the chip was activated, and this started a timer. A similar mat was present at the finish line, which stopped the timer when the participants stepped on it as well. The 5 km and the 3 km races had the participants circle around Manipal Lake, while the path of the 10 km and the 21 km races was set in such a way that the participants had to breeze through End Point Road, as well as Syndicate Circle, to reach Karamballi. From Karamballi, they took a turn and returned to KMC Greens, which marked the finishing point of the marathon. Excluding spot registrations, there were a total of 5800 sign ups, with the event attracting people of all age groups, including old men along with children as young as 8 years. Such a gathering is a fair reflection of the values of unity and diversity Manipal University strives to achieve.

Games like cricket, lagori, and paintball were conducted as a part of the second sector, to promote the prevention aspect of the theme. This was done to remind people the power of metal exuberance over the body. It is scientifically proven that physical fitness helps liberate a constricted mind., and this event helped reinforce this concept for the attendees. It also helped them relive and experience activities they might have been missing out on.

All this was made possible due to the arduous hours dedicated to the events by the 1500 volunteers, and faculty associated with VSO, throughout the duration of the past two months. Described by student ambassador, Varun Keri, as the “social service umbrella under which the do-gooders of all the contingents of MU flourish”, VSO has been making it big in the past few years. Amongst its decade-long list of achievements, one that particularly stands out is their position in the ‘Daan Utsav’ calendar. They made it on the map due to their unique approach with the ‘Daan Rath’, an event recurring every two years where the organization collects donations on a ‘Rath’ that travels from Mangalore to Manipal.

The organizers could give six thousand people a hassle-free, enjoyable experience, covering a large demographic. There was something for everyone to do; a gesture much appreciated by the audience. VSO plans on taking flight from Manipal and Mangalore to other campuses including Sikkim and Dubai. It is safe to say that given the huge success that was this event, the organization has the potential to make some real change in the world.