Thanks to the prominent educational institutions
in the city, Pune was initially popular as the "Oxford
of East". It was also well known as the "cultural
capital of state". However, in the recent times, the
city has catapulted to be known as the "sport city of
the country" and the credit mainly goes to the successful
hosting 21 editions of the "Pune International Marathon".
The annual mega event, featuring top long distance runners
from all over the globe has places the city on the sports
map of the world.
The City's tryst with the marathon began
way back in 1920's when the famous Deccan Gymkhana hosted
the first meeting of the Indian Olympic movement. This was
followed by organization of the first ever national marathon
of the country in 1919. The event is still considered to be
the milestone in the annals of Indian sports, though being
the selection trials to select the Indian team to participate
in the Antwerp World Marathon in 1920. The grueling 42.195
kilometer race was won by Phaddeppa Chougule clocking 2:48:49.
Having got the taste of the event it was Deccan Club comprising
enthusiastic sportsmen, continued to support the cause of
long distance running.
Unfortunately, the event was shelved into
cold storage with the passage of time. Rebirth of the historic
event came by only because of the vision and foresight of
the dynamic and charismatic city member of parliament of Mr.
Suresh Kalmadi, presently heading the Indian Olympic Association
(IOA). He christened the event as the Pune International Marathon
on September 25, 1983.
Cementing his way into the realm of politics
Mr. Kalmadi, was right since then, known as the "organizer
par excellence". Having gained the confidence and support
from the local political leaders, Mr. Kalmadi slowly but surely
gained support from local sports organizers.
Athletics, as a sport, was at that time struggling to gain
its bearings with a city-based trio making every possible
effort in this director. In association with former 100 meters
sprint ace, Ramesh Tawde, an equally promising long distance
runner, Pralhad Sawant and noted sports organizer Prof. Sureshchandra
Nadkarni, Mr. Kalmadi took over reigns of athletics in the
state. With his organizational capacities, Mr. Kalmadi soon
donned the mantle of Maharashtra Amateur Athletic Association
(MAAA) and never looked back since then.
In the meanwhile Mr. Kalmadi was named the
manager of the Indian team to take part in the Beijing Marathon.
Known for his acumen and power of observation, Mr. Kalmadi
not only grasped the spontaneous public support and the glitter
that goes with the events, decided to recreate the scenario
The pomp and pageantry thus created since
1983, has billed the Pune International Marathon as the most
sought after reace and equated it with the likes of Boston,
London and Paris events. However, the task to reach the zenith
was not easy as several obstacles and hurdles had to be overcome
but this did not deter Mr. Kalmadi and his two lieutenants.
After the general body of the MAAA Mr. Kalmadi wrote to the
apex body, the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) to allot
Maharashtra the marathon events. The AFT decided to remove
the event from the itinerary of the open national athletic
championship to be held that year at Jamshedpur and allotted
the same to Pune.
The state association had also requested
the AFI to grant permission for hosting the women's marathon
simultaneously. Come September 1983 and the event became a
trendsetter in more than one ways. The field attracted 50
foreign athletes along with the country's top long distance
runners. The aura thus created, caught the imagination of
the residents of Pune who participated in large numbers in
other race organized along with the main marathon and the
Since then, the Pune International Marathon
has come a long distance, to be recongnised as the national
championship and an international event where Indians have
been brushing shoulders with leading international marathoners.