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  ‘The marathon is our Mardi Gras’

‘The marathon is our Mardi Gras’

Published : Jan 15, 2016, 10:24 pm IST
Updated : Jan 15, 2016, 10:24 pm IST

For an amateur runner participating in a marathon, setting the right pace is vital in reaching the finishing line on time.


For an amateur runner participating in a marathon, setting the right pace is vital in reaching the finishing line on time. And while the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon does have official “pacers” — seasoned runners who others can follow to ensure that they complete their race within the time limit — this time round, each runner will also have the option of following their own “personal” pacer.

Dr Purnendu Nath, a veteran of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, is introducing race-specific pacer bands in this 13th edition of the SCMM, which will kick off on Sunday. These bands will help marathoners set their own pace.

“With my advanced degrees and years of modelling experience, I created a computer model for both the new, untested, SCMM half marathon route and the traditional full marathon route using GPS readings from various devices (for both distance and altitude) and built a mathematical model that would allow me to model runners of different ability running all the different elevations along the route (Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Pedder Road etc),” said Dr Nath, who also crosschecked results produced by these bands with a runner friend from a mathematics background.

“I then produced these bands for a wide range of finish times and made them freely available on the Internet along with an instruction video,” he added. The bands can be obtained by logging on to

Dr Nath is an actuary by profession with a PhD in Finance but currently, he is using his human capital to make the world a better place. Different from GPS “A Global Positioning System (GPS) device only tells you where are you are when, it does not tell you where you have to be when. It’s like a dashboard, not a navigator,” pointed out Dr Nath, who is also personal trainer certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Dr Nath worked on the bands so that more runners can time their race.

“It troubled me that a pacer is only able to help a limited number of marathoners. These runners have to be able to start and run with the pacer all the way and have the same target finish time, but what about all those runners who cannot meet the pacer because there are huge crowds and not everyone starts in the same enclosure Also, if someone has a target time like 1:54 rather than 1:59, he does not have a pacer to follow.”

Dr Nath also stressed on the utility of the pacer bands compared to that of the branded ones produced earlier. “These ones are race specific. The stuff handed out by major brands suggested that people run at a constant speed along the entire route, which is ridiculous. My bands offer a huge emotional and technical support to the experienced and inexperienced runner for the race targets. I have had some extremely fast runners (regular podium finishers) request these bands. Official pacers for SCMM have also asked for it. The fact of the matter is that with no one having run the new route for the half marathon, the chances of going wrong are not small. These bands are well thought out and so should provide a scientific framework from which any runner can approach the run,” he mentioned. New inventions For the full marathon, Dr Nath invented “pacer strips” which can be cut out and hung from a safety pin of the running number bib.

“Full marathoners are more likely to sweat a lot and might not like to wear a double band. These strips can be looked at (designed specially to be ‘upside down’) from the runner’s eye looking down and then ripped off as the kilometres roll by,” said Dr Nath.

With Nath’s bands, runners have a better chance of staying on track and reaching the finish line within their target time. And have a better marathon experience in consequence. “After all,” as Dr Nath points out, “the SCMM is the city’s answer to Mardi Gras, a fitter version.”

Marathon essentials Running bib (or you won’t be allowed to run) No need to carry hydration as it is provided along the route Mid-race nutrition as they may need mid-race calorie consumption to take them beyond the 30 km mark A happy, helpful, fun and party attitude!