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Saturday, Feb 14, 2004

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Corporates running a different race!

P.T. Jyothi Datta
Archana Chaudhary

Mumbai , Feb. 13

THIS time around, Reliance Vice-Chairman & Managing Director, Mr Anil Ambani, will not be running because an investor had expressed concern over his health.

The junior Ambani is expected to join a host of corporate honchos, including Essar's Mr Anshuman Ruia, his wife and Mr Shashi Ruia's daughter, to mention a handful — to run for Mumbai.

Come Sunday and several corporate top brass and employees will put on their jogging shoes to join star athletes — Michael Johnson (400m Olympic champion), Mike Powell (world long jump record holder), Zola Budd, Paul Tergat (world marathon record holder), Tim Hutchins and Josiah Tughwane — to participate in the Standard Chartered Mumbai International Marathon.

Touted to be the first truly international marathon in the country, event organisers told Business Line that they were looking to put India on the marathon map, along with London, New York or Boston. Runners will be competing for a purse of $ 25,000, besides several others levels of prize money.

Meanwhile, the run is beginning to epitomise different things to different people - from popularising the event, to health and fitness, as well.

"Overall, fitness is an important part of every individual's life. Fitness of mind and body are both extremely important for leaders, not necessarily only corporate leaders," Mr Ambani said.

Running with about 20,000 enthusiastic runners will be a clutch of celebrities including model-turned actor Rahul Bose, Dino Morea, John Abraham and Mandira Bedi who are expected to congregate at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, where the marathon gets off the blocks.

The event comprises three levels — the full marathon or a stretch of 42-odd kilometres, the half-marathon of 21 km and the "dream run" of seven kilometres. Standard Chartered - the title sponsor and Essar - the associate sponsor are sending about 800 and 270 employees respectively each for the run. Meanwhile, about 50 employees from ICICI, including three top-management executives are slated to participate.

"I am running to support a Bangalore-based orphanage called `Vatsalya'.Other bankers are running this marathon too. It has reminded us that fitness is important, but pursuing it needs motivation. This marathon provided that," said Mr Nachiket Mor, Executive Director, ICICI Bank. The cream of corporates and celebrities are expected to do the `dream run', where the entry fee goes towards supporting about 150-odd different social organisations, said Mr Bruno Goveas of Procam International Ltd, the event managers. The estimated cost of the event is Rs 5 crore and several companies have put in their might in different ways. The Oberoi Hotels are playing host to the athletes, Kingfisher has its water stalls, Orange supports the GSM cards, Asian Heart Institute for medical services, Sify as Internet partners.

But whether the run comes to signify a health movement for citizens or a public-relations exercise for the corporates - event organisers expect the marathon to become an annual event. And that will be one cause that Mumbaikars will certainly run for!

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