SBI Green Marathon – Delhi
It was a cold wintry night. There was condensation around each breath. At 11.30 PM, on Saturday, 17th Feb, I was standing outside the Parliament Street branch of State Branch of India in New Delhi.
Earlier on Friday evening I had met the traffic authorities and they had assured me that all was good for the SBI Green Marathon to happen on Sunday the 18th.
A few hours before around 7 PM I was measuring the route somewhere around Lodhi Road. I was called to come to the start venue. I cycled back and found the traffic authorities asking me to wind up at 8.00AM, which it would have done. I assured them that our race will get over and they assured me that we were good to go.
But at about 10.00 PM we were called by the DCP and letter was given to us effectively cancelling the police permission.
This sudden turn of events was escalated both to Radio Mirchi, the organizers and to State Bank of India, the principal sponsors.
State Bank of India summoned an emergent meeting, in the main branch, outside which I was watching my breath condense.
The highest echelons came all formally dressed in coat and tie while I was in my work clothes, having been riding a cycle to measure the course.Various phone calls were made and various attempts were made to recoup the situation. Finally at about 1.30AM, the call was taken to cancel the event.
My team headed by Payal Khanna was on standby in Mumbai. We immediately did an impact analysis and took several measures to contain the situation. The 1st was to inform the runners about sudden overnight turn of events. A SMS was sent out to all. An email also went out to all the runners. We then felt that sending out SMS’s through a bulk service provider may result in the DND getting blocked. So some of us sent personal SMS’s so that runners are not inconvenienced.
From about 4.00 AM we divided all the participants across about 20 willing volunteers, who called up the runners to see that on a cold wintry morning they can catch up with their beauty sleep. Simultaneously 42 suppliers/ vendors were called up to tell them that the event was not going to happen.
The food was diverted to a Gurdwara and was distributed as a part of a Langar. The water, Enerzal and plants and medals had already arrived at the venue. There was nothing we could do about it. Most of the production cost has been incurred. In spite of this, the SBI took a key decision that they would refund all the monies first and then they would announce next date and seek fresh registrations.
At the early morning hours, as the time approached for the runners to arrive, we put our teams across all points of entry into the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. I myself stood at gate no 1 of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium till 08.00 AM to see that runners were explained properly.
To the few that turned up inspite of electronic messages, we explained the happenings of the night before. To many we gave away saplings as a token of our remorse over a sudden turn of events.
On Monday after a written communication to refund the money, on Tuesday, 22nd we refunded all the money to the registered participants.
We are indeed happy to work with ethical organisers like Radio Mirchi and State Bank, who have taken the best interest of the runners into consideration, in spite of adverse circumstances leading to cancellation of event.
The event is rescheduled and fresh dates and registration links are going to be announced soon.