Some of you might have heard about Go Heritage Runs and the test run we organized in Hampi in July. I was asked why I wanted to organize a run? Here’s one reason.
“There is no better way to experience a place than to run it. You get to experience the deep crevices of an area, the senses beyond the visual, something you would never do if you didn’t run.“
Tawnya MacNeil, Runner’s World Challenger
Perhaps, this is why many world heritage sites and cities around the world organize marathons too. We wrote about marathons at world heritage sites in Asia too earlier – link.
Marathons, and runs, are inherently inclusive. And Go Heritage Runs are fun runs, meant for all members of the family. They are meant to help one look at heritage in a different light – literally and figuratively. Every run we organize will not just be a run, but a holistic experience. The runs will be an opportunity for a family vacation and an educational experience for the kids. The emphasis will not be on the monuments and heritage alone but also on the landscape and culture of the region.
There is another important reason for choosing runs. From a niche sport, running is fast going mainstream. Celebrities like Milind Soman have fueled interest in running too. The estimated number of runners in Bangalore alone is 10,000. If Go Heritage Runs can attract even a fraction of these runners and their families, our objective of making heritage more interesting and fun will be met.
Over the past 5-6 years, I have been a core committee member of the Hyderabad Runners Society and organized the Airtel Hyderabad Marathon for the first three years. I have closely seen running take off as a fitness and leisure activity in India. But has the growth really been that good? Where’s the data to back this claim? I set out to verify for myself and found some interesting results.
Running in India
Source of information
- The data available here only includes the big runs – ones that can afford to put up timing mats and infrastructure.
- Most (if not all) of these are paid events.
- Charity runs, 3k and 5k ‘marathons’ (inside joke – a marathon is a fixed unit of distance – 42.2km. Just like you cannot have a 90cm meter, you cannot have a 3k marathon)
- The data on number of participants is not available in public. If it was, it would help gain much better insights.
The insights presented are limited by the sources of information. If there are more comprehensive sources, do point them out and I will be glad to update the analysis.
How did we do it?
- The data from the sources was copied to a spreadsheet and duplicate events removed. Open Refine was used to scrape one of the sources and get information into a structured format with each run categorized according to city, date, etc. The info from rest of the sources was manually sorted.
- The batch encoding option on this site was used to get the coordinates for each city venue.
- Openheatmap was then used to create the timelapse and regular heatmaps seen below. Google spreadsheets was used for the charts.
Without further ado, here are the results of a brief analysis of timed running events in India in the past years.
So the growth is better than exponential!
Locations of running events in India
Notice how the events seem to be concentrated only in one half of the country? What could be the reason for the eastern half lagging behind?
Timelapse of running events in India
Bangalore and Mumbai are the clear running capitals of India.
A fellow organizer estimated there are nearly 10,000 runners in Bangalore. Another mentioned that there are many runners in Mumbai who do not probably run the big events. Delhi has a big number of runners, but is the extreme weather limiting the number of events?
No surprises here, April and May are the hottest months in India. Unless the venue is up in the hills, it would not be possible to get anyone to participate in a run.
There are a few more inferences from the data –
- Running is a growing sport in India with increasing spread across the country but with few major operators.
- Most runs are organized once in a year.
- The top 5 cities account for 42% of the events in the country and the top 10 account for 60% of the events. If fun runs and non timed events are included, the numbers might get even more skewed in favor of major cities.
- Organizers are region specific and concentrate on events in major cities.
We believe that there are plenty of runners who would be ready to trade running next to buildings and garbage to running in a scenic location where they can get their family to engage too. A series of runs which provide a consistent and holistic experience is what Go Heritage Runs aim to become.
Would you be interested in joining the Go Heritage Runs? Join this group to stay updated on the runs we organize – link.
If you would like to see the raw data used for this basic analysis, please head over here – link (read only).
Feel free to comment, question, recommend or share this analysis. It would be great if you could credit GoUNESCO in case you use the information here!