Experiences with Patna Marathon

This is a post I had made on April 5, 2012 in Patna Marathon forum on Facebook. Since time to time references are made to Patna Marathon not being held as scheduled, I am reproducing this post here so that others can look at it.

The key person involved in PM was Kumar Atul and unfortunately he fell sick for some time after returning to USA and he has been asked to take it easy for some time. He would be the best person to share these experiences, which he had planned to do. But since its more than one month and we see many interested persons wanting to know about experiences, I would share few things that I noticed – specially towards last one week, when I was physically present in Patna. I would do a quick writing so may not be very well thought out but I think it is better to start and share few things then try to make a perfect document. So here we go:

Let me start with few positive outcomes

* The fact that Marathon should be organized came to the forefront
* It created a lot of creativity and enthusiasm among young people from Patna and around the world, who were interested in Bihar. In some sense it provided an open platform for anyone and everyone to join – whether physically or through online presence.
* Creativity was at its peak as seen by the number of creative designs that came out of this effort
* We had a collaborative effort resulting in a great theme song and video
* We came to know runners from various parts of Bihar and outside Bihar
* We also came to know about Marathon organizers, who could help in Marathon in various ways
* We also came to know about local organizations/individuals/officers/political leaders etc who could help

Other can add more to this. Let me start with other learnings in next posting.

What I found lacking :

1. A strong organizational base in Patna was needed with financial base, human resources of various kind (legal, financial, event managers, marathon organizers …). Due to this most persons were not having faith in the capability of a loosely connected set of persons to organize such an event. This also resulted in Sponsors not showing full interest
2. Certain legal, financial and administrative processes have to be followed in any public event of this magnitude. I think we were not fully aware of the dimension of these. Even sponsors were not willing to go ahead unless these documents were produced.
3. A lot of faith was put on verbal assurances from persons in high position (or well connected persons). Lesson is that unless ground work is proper and strong, no one can help.
4. The model of involvement of key members/volunteers was very loose. No one made any commitment regarding how much time they were willing to commit for this organization. What they would get in return was not clear to them. If some one volunteers for what period and how much time should have been known.
5. To me it appears that we created hype beyond our capabilities and this resulted in lot of negative feelings among others. Many thought that these guys have loads of resources and they backed out.
6. Due to these and many other reasons, we kept looking for support from one organization to another. At the end we had annoyed most of the organizations/individuals
7. We did not have a ready document, which outlined various tasks to be done, how much money was needed at various stages, what facilities were required etc
8. While using names of organizations/individuals, we should have had written permissions from them to use their names/logo etc. I think this was mostly ignored in good faith.
9. While accepting donations/fees/sponsorships, proper terms and conditions were not put up under which these were accepted. e.g. what would happen, if event was cancelled due to various reasons or postponed etc.
10. We did not have an estimate of persons with expertise needed at various times. e.g on the day of event, what would be the number of different kind of volunteers along the route needed, for how long etc.Routes not only need taking care of runner related needs but also generating a festival type environment to make rest of the participants feel part of the event through live bands etc.

I think this is already too long so I would stop here 🙂
But just to add to this – most persons who came forward for this event have not given up and every one was upbeat that they would do it again with better preparation !

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Prabhat Ranjan

Author: Prabhat Ranjan

Prof. Prabhat Ranjan is Vice Chancellor, D Y Patil International University, Akurdi, Pune. He was heading India's Technology Think Tank, TIFAC(tifac.org.in) as its Executive Director since April 2013 to April 2018. Earlier he was Professor at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute for Information and Communication Technology, Gandhinagar (DA-IICT) since 2002. He was educated in Netarhat School(near Ranchi), IIT Kharagpur and Delhi University. He received his Ph D from University of California, Berkeley where he carried our research on “Nuclear Fusion” at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory during 1983-86. He immediately returned to India after this and carried out research in Nuclear Fusion area at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Calcutta and Institute for Plasma Research(IPR), Gandhinagar. He played a major role in India’s Nuclear Fusion program and was Project Leader of the largest operational Indian Fusion Reactor, ADITYA, at Institute for Plasma Research from 1996-2002. His current interests include applications of Wireless Sensor Network to Wildlife, Planetary Exploration (Chandrayaan mission), Nuclear Fusion, Healthcare, Agriculture etc. He has received National Science Talent Search Award, IBM Faculty Innovation Grant and HP Innovate 2009 award, NPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award 2012, Bihar Gaurav Samman 2012 etc.

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Atul Kumar
7 years ago

Since I was the originator of this idea of Patna Marathon and was entrusted the charge of organizing this event as CEO of Patna Marathon, I thought owe a response to this thoughtful article by Prof. Prabhat Ranjan. I have lot of notes and experiences to share as well but thought will take a break and let emotions settle down before I pen my thoughts. I will do that soon.

Prashant Jha
7 years ago

I in my opinion the beauty of “Experience” is that whether it is good or bad it teaches us something……Hopefully in future event(s) the loose ends will be tied up to make it a successful organisation/ event.