WORK EXPANDS TO FILL THE TIME AVAILABLE FOR ITS COMPLETION – Parkinson’s Law*
Arbeit dehnt sich aus, um die Zeit zu füllen die dafür zur Verfügung steht – Parkinsons Gesetz*
* A dictum first formulated by Cyril N. Parkinson in 1955 based on his observations of the civil service.
15.01.2012 - 0415 Hours: “The Restaurant serves dinner only as from 1930 hours. Take your time”. Horst Preisler and I were on our way from our hotel to the start for the Mumbai Marathon as I said these words to Horst.
Horst had severe pains and I could see that he was apprehensive about his ability to finish the marathon within the time limit. My words were an attempt to put him at ease.
Little did I realize that he would take my words literally and that of all the people, Horst Preisler – brought up by his grandparents with Prussian discipline in Wattenbek (roughly 15 km north of Neumünster in Schleswig Hostein) - would set out to fervently prove Cyril Parkinson’s observations on civil service. Of all the people Horst Preisler, who had until that day completed 1760 marathons and ultra marathons - all of them within time limits - and who had held the world record for having run the maximum number of marathons until August 2011.
We had landed in Mumbai in the middle of the night of 12-13 January. It was after 0300 hours on Friday by the time we got into bed. Given the fact that we did not have an opportunity on Friday and Saturday evening, I had invited Horst for dinner in the hotel restaurant on Sunday evening after the marathon.
02.09.2011: Email from Mario Sagasser with a message from Horst Preisler. Horst wanted to participate in Mumbai. Horst had wanted to participate in Mumbai for quite some time now. In 2004 Horst was on his way to Frankfurt airport to catch his flight to Mumbai – for the first edition of the Mumbai Marathon - when he got stuck on the way in a train because of a storm. In 2010 and 2011 he could not join us as he had other commitments in Germany. In March or April of 2011 Horst had mentioned to me that he wanted to go to Mumbai in 2012. Since I did not hear anything further from Horst, I had assumed that he had changed his mind. From his email now it seemed that he very much wanted to participate in Mumbai.
From our online registrations in 2010, I knew that September was definitely too late to register. Because of my own work it took me until end September to send an email to the organizers in Mumbai asking them if it would be OK to register this late. I got an email back saying
“its not just ok… it’s a pleasure ….. look forward to seeing you again ....”
After this reaction from Mumbai, I was almost tempted to again offer a Club trip to the Mumbai Marathon. It hardly made a difference whether I organized the trip for two or for more people. The time involved in making the arrangements remained the same. Again because of my own workload I never got around to send an Email to Arne Franck or Michael Weber to offer a club trip.
THURSDAY 12.01.2012: Horst and I left Hamburg by Lufthansa on Thursday, 12.01.2012 via Munich for Mumbai. Since Horst was to fly back to Germany alone on Tuesday morning after the marathon and in view of the long stay between the flights in Dubai last year, I did not think it advisable to go via Dubai. Even though the Emirates flights were slightly cheaper.
On the flight from Munich to Mumbai Horst told me that he had participated in Kevelaer the previous weekend and, because of pain, he had taken 8:35 to finish the marathon. Horst told me a bit about his childhood in the post-war years with his grandparents in Wattenbek, his family in Hamburg, that he had recently become a great-grandfather and how and why he started running. And he showed me quite a few photographs.
First Race 07/08 September 1974
Marathons/Ultras until 12.01.2012: 1761
Personal best times:
Marathon 2h 54m 39s
100 km 8:15:38
24 hours 214.708 km
Marathon after age 70: 3:53:21 (2005)
618 Marathons under 4 hours!
We landed in Mumbai at around 0030 hours on Friday. By the time we were in bed it was well after 0300 hours.
FRIDAY 13.01.2012: Before our departure from Hamburg I had contacted a couple of reporters in Mumbai and told them that I was coming with Horst Preisler who had held the world record for maximum number of marathons/ultra marathons until August 2011. They were obviously interested and wanted to meet him and interview him. Once we arrived in Mumbai I fixed up so that they could meet Horst later in the day.
Horst being interviewed in the hotel lobby by MiDDAY reporter Harit Joshi
MiDDAY photographer Bipin Kokate photographing Horst on the Marine Drive opposite our hotel.
(Link to the newspaper article on Horst in MIDDAY is at the end of this report.)
As we entered the hotel lobby after the photo session, we ran into Jean-Benoit Jaouen, race director of Transe Gaule. Jean-Benoit started rattling off numbers and told me how many times Sigrid, Jobst and the others had participated in the Transe Gaule.
Horst talking to Times of India reporter V. Anand who has now also caught the marathon bug. He ran his first marathon in Mumbai in 2011.
(Link to the newspaper article on Horst in the Times of India is at the end of this report.)
After word got around that Horst was in town, quite a few newspapers and TV-Channels wanted to interview him.
Horst being interviewed by Vaibhav Parab of Star-TV.
It was a busy day for Horst and given that we had had little sleep the previous night, we decided to call it a day and turn in early.
SATURDAY, 14.01.2012: After breakfast we set off to pick up our race numbers. The building where the Marathon exhibition usually took place was under renovation. The exhibition and handing out of the race numbers was therefore held a week earlier for Mumbai residents at a different place. The out-of-town participants could collect their race numbers (without the exhibition) at the old venue on Saturday.
Runners in long queues to pick up the race numbers.
A view from behind the counters.
No such waiting for the prominent guest from Germany. Horst got royal treatment and could pick up his race number in a back room which obviously was also under renovation.
Because of the newspaper article in the Times of India that day, Horst was recognized by quite a few people who wanted to be photographed with him.
After picking up the race numbers we wanted to do some sightseeing. We started with the Gateway of India where Horst was again recognized by a few people.
Since Horst still had pain and was feeling very uncomfortable, we decided to break up the sightseeing tour.
At noon we had been invited to a reception arranged by the marathon organizers for the sponsors of the Mumbai Marathon to meet the media.
Horst with Vivek Singh of the organizers Procam Mumbai. Vivek ran his first marathon in Greece last year.
I took this opportunity to inform Vivek that Horst was not feeling particularly well, that he would probably need longer than 6 hours to finish the race and requested him not to take Horst out of the race since this would be a big disappointment for Horst.
Horst being interviewed by yet another TV channel.
After the reception Horst wanted to get some rest. I used the afternoon and early evening to visit my brother who was in a hospital having undergone an operation on his spinal chord that morning.
SUNDAY, 15.01.2012 – RACE DAY: The start was at 0540 hours. Horst and I decided to take a taxi to the start area. We had decided to leave the hotel at 0400 hours so that we would have enough time before the start.
It was in the taxi on our way to the start when, in an attempt to put him at ease, I had told Horst that the restaurant opens at 1930 hours and to take his time with the run.
On our way to the start area. Things are still quiet around here.
Having arrived at the start area we discovered that Sigrid Eichner was also there with a group of other runners from Germany. Neither Horst nor I knew that Sigrid was planning to run in Mumbai.
Oh Horst, I know that one since I was 13. (Ach Horst, den kenne ich seit dem ich 13 bin!)
Sigrid and Horst with Sigrid’s group from Germany
Also in Mumbai was Vagn Kirkelund from Denmark who frequently participates in 100 MC races
Start: 0540 hours (0725 hours for runners who need less than 3:30)
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (more commonly known as CST) – Mumbai’s main Railway station. Weather: Clear skies with temperature around 18°C. Relative humidity 75%.
Finish: CST – Weather: brilliant sunshine with temperature around 28°C when I finished around 10.35 hours.
Marathon Route: Briefly, the route takes the runners from south Mumbai to the north Mumbai suburb of Bandra and back again. There has been a small change this year in the route in that it takes the runners on to the Sea Link (which connects the suburbs of Bandra and Worli by a bridge over the sea) between km 14 and 18 instead of between km 22 and 26. This, in my opinion, is an improvement since one is done with the long climb on the bridge much earlier in the race.
Shortly before the start at 0540 hours
Various bands and folk dance troops on the way
Between Km 14 and 18. The long climb on to the Sea Link drags on
Sunrise over Mumbai from the Sea Link
Mumbai is ready for Sven, Mario, Ralf + Co. The speed limits are already in place.
Barefoot runner. Not an uncommon sight in Mumbai. Ralf, how about giving it a try in 2013?
The lead car with the timing clock.
The elite runners who started at 0725 hours overtook me between Km 21 and 22.
One of the women elite runners with her pacer
After about 25 km I stopped at two medical aid stations and told the physician in charge to expect Horst, described what he was wearing and requested them to make sure that Horst got something to drink.
Almost made it
AFTER THE RACE:
Sunil Chainani from Bangalore. We meet every year at the Mumbai marathon.
Sigrid after the race with the medal.
After the run I picked up my medal and the post-race bag with some fruit and cookies. Once I had some feeling back again in my legs, I started telephoning around. Usually I do not carry a mobile phone during a run. This time around I knew I would need one after the race.
The first person I called was my sister who lives on the marathon route between km 9 and 10 (and around km 34 on the way back). Horst had passed her in the morning at around 0730 hours. This meant that Horst had done around 5 km per hour. Next I went to the finish area hoping to see Vivek. I did not see Vivek but ran into the race director Hugh Jones. I had seen Hugh on the route on a motor bike. He told me that he had seen Horst at km 13 around 2 and half hours into the race. This again worked out to about 5 km per hour and tallied with the information I had received from my sister. At this pace Horst would need between 8.5 and 9 hours to finish the race.
As I could not find Vivek until around 11.15 hours (more than 5 and a half hours after the start) I called him up. I had already spoken to him briefly at the reception on Saturday. I gave Vivek the information I had and requested him once again not to take Horst out of the race. I also told Vivek that I was going to take a taxi to where Horst was and would accompany him to the finish line. Vivek told me that his people on the route were keeping an eye on Horst who was now somewhere around km 29. Also it was not necessary for me to go to Horst since his people were following Horst closely.
The thought that Horst may not be able to finish the run did not cross my mind at any time. My sole concern was whether the Mumbai traffic conditions would allow Horst to finish the race. I knew from my previous participations in Mumbai that the km-signs and the water/medical aid stations were dismantled after about 6 – 6.5 hours. Without the km-signs to guide him and without fluids to keep him going, even a Horst Preisler would have difficulty to finish the run in the Mumbai sun. Also Horst did not know the route to follow.
For quite a few years, I have now been in close contact with the organizers of the Mumbai marathon. I know for instance that some of the helpers and volunteers work right through the night before the marathon to make sure that everything is in place when the race is started in the morning. The km-signs and the drink and medical aid stations are set up during the night to allow vehicular traffic to flow freely for as long as possible. Having worked through the night the helpers and volunteers are bound to be tired and get impatient once the official race was over. To expect of the organizers, helpers and volunteers to accompany Horst for 3 hours after the race was over, would be overstretching their helpfulness. In spite of Vivek’s assurances I therefore decided to take a taxi to Horst.
Almost all the roads in the start/finish area are closed to traffic on the Race day. I therefore walked about 1000 metres from the finish area to a road crossing where I could finally get a taxi. I had just got into the taxi and we had driven just a few hundred metres when my phone started ringing.
It was Vaibhav Pawar of the Mumbai Mirror who had interviewed Horst on Saturday. He told me that he had one Sigrid Eichner of Germany with him. Vaibhav had identified Sigrid because of her 100MC T-shirt. Vaibhav knew the yellow T-shirt because he had seen me in one several times. Vaibhav told me he was having difficulty communicating with Sigrid and asked me if I could help with the translation. I told him that I had already left the finish area and was in a taxi on my way to Horst. Sorry.
After I disconnected the phone, it went through my mind that after having arranged interviews for Horst and having helped him to translate with the several newspaper and TV reporters; I owed it to Sigrid to help translate her. I therefore told the taxi driver to stop, called Vaibhav back and told him that I would make my way back to the finish area. I also asked him to stay with Sigrid and agreed a place where we could find each other easily. When I told the taxi driver that I had to get out again, he gave me a very odd look as if I was not quite sane. Even the taxi driver knew how difficult it is to get a taxi on such a day.
I walked back to the finish area and soon found Sigrid and Vaibhav. We went into a tent. Vaibhav gave me the details he had extracted from Sigrid thus far and we soon found out that between the two of them, they had somehow managed to mix up the things thoroughly. We first set the things right and then proceeded with further questions that Vaibhav had for Sigrid.
(Link to the article on Sigrid in the Mumbai Mirror is at the end of this report.)
After translating Sigrid, I again started walking towards the road junction where I could get a taxi. I was on my way to Horst when I got a call from Sunny Lakhwara of Procam. Sunny had been assigned the job of following Horst in a car. He told me that Horst was making extremely slow progress and expressed his doubts whether it was advisable to allow Horst to continue. It was now almost 7 hours after the race had started. I requested Sunny not to take Horst out of the race. I told him that I was on my way and requested him to stay with Horst until I arrived.
I took the taxi to my sister’s place (who I knew was out to attend a friend’s wedding) and asked the taxi driver to wait. I went up to my sister’s apartment; got a bottle of cola, a lemon drink and two bottles of water in a plastic bag (I would have preferred a backpack but could not find one). I still had the cookies from my refreshment bag after the race.
Before getting into my waiting taxi, I called up Sunny to find out where Horst was. It was now just after 13.00 hours. He had passed km 33 just a few minutes ago. Since Horst was walking on the footpath on the other side of the road, I would not be able to see him from a taxi. I therefore paid off the taxi, went to the other side of the road and started walking towards km 33. Somewhere between km 33 and 34 I met Horst and the lead car which had now taken over the job of accompanying Horst. It was 13.16 hours. More than 7.5 hours after the race had started.
Horst being accompanied by the lead car.
After I had walked with Horst for about 5 minutes I knew that he was having serious difficulties to walk. Although I could anticipate what his answer would be, I asked Horst if it was advisable for him to continue. Of course Horst wanted to continue. My offer to get medical assistance was resolutely refused by Horst. Since there was nothing that the accompanying car could do for us, I thanked Sunny and his companion for their help and told them that they could go back to their base.
After sometime I also called up Vivek, thanked him for all the help provided by the organizers and asked him if he could have somebody at the finishing line to note down Horst’s time and with a medal. He asked me when that would be. Since I could not answer this, I asked him for a phone number where I could call somebody around 30 minutes before Horst’s finish. Vivek told me that he would try to organize this.
Since the roads were opened to traffic about 6 hours after the start, Horst was forced to walk on the footpath. Mumbai footpaths are not known as being the best. Even a healthy person needs to watch out when walking there. For somebody with pain, like Horst, they are torture. Also we were forced to stop at the traffic lights and watch out for cars coming out of or entering driveways to the buildings on the way. Accordingly Horst’s progress was excruciatingly slow.
Horst taking rest at a petrol station between km 34 and 35. In the forefront is the plastic bag with our drinks bottles.
Since we had our race numbers on our chests, people could see that we were participants in the marathon. The attendants at the petrol station brought out a plastic chair for Horst to sit on.
We passed the 35 km mark on the road at just after 14.00 hours.
On our way, several passers by and cars stopped to ask if we needed help or if they could take us to a hospital. All the help was politely refused.
At a café I organized a chair to sit and bought a bottle of cola for Horst.
Between km 37 and 38 we were joined by Arati Kakatkar and Sunny Lakhwara of Procam. They again tried to convince Horst to discontinue the run. Having come this far, Horst obviously wanted to finish the rest as well.
Arati and Sunny were in Arati’s private car and they offered to drive behind us so that Horst would not have to walk on the uneven footpath and could walk on the even road surface. This was obviously a big help and the offer was gratefully taken up. It was no longer necessary to carry the plastic bag with the drinks in one hand which was a big relief.
Eventually at 17.09 hours, or 11 hours and 29 minutes after the start, Horst crossed the finishing line. Since the chip mats and the stopwatches were long removed, this was the time manually noted by the people present.
Soon after Horst finished the run, we gratefully took up Arati’s offer to drop us off at our hotel arriving there at around 17.45 hours.
As agreed previously, I met with Horst in the hotel lobby at 19.30 hours to go to the hotel restaurant. After a shower and an hour’s rest, Horst was feeling much better and could almost walk again normally.
Men: 1. Laban Moiben - Kenya – 2:10:48
Women: 1. Netsanet Abeyo – Ethiopia – 2:26:12
100 MC members and friends:
Start no. – Name - net time
238 – Jaouen, Jean-Benoit – 3:14:49
1122 – Kurani, Hirendra – 4:53:51
1359 - Eichner, Sigrid – 5:29:17
1368 –Preisler, Horst – 11:29:00
MONDAY, 16.01.2012: On Monday we decided to take it easy. Horst’s flight back to Germany was to leave late Monday night. We therefore had the whole day. Horst was however, not too keen to do any sightseeing. I had arranged for a late checkout with the hotel so that we could keep our rooms until 16.00 hours. Horst decided to rest during the afternoon and I called up my suppliers and fixed up the appointments for the following days.
Horst on the Marine Drive
Horst’s flight was at 01.30 hours on Tuesday morning. We had therefore agreed that I would drop off Horst at the airport at 22.30 hours on Monday. We were to leave the hotel at 21.00 hours in a taxi for the airport to make sure that Horst would there on time.
After taking a leisurely walk on the Marine Drive in the early evening we still had some time on our hands until the restaurant opened at 19.30 hours. At around 19.00 hours I told Horst that I would go up to the Business Centre of the hotel to check on my emails.
The Business Centre at the Trident is located on the 33rd floor. I therefore took the elevator leaving Horst in the hotel lobby. As usual a few people got on and off the elevator on its way to the 33rd floor. The last guest got off on the 21st floor. After that the elevator got stuck somewhere between the 21st and the 33rd floors. We tried pressing several buttons for various floors to encourage the elevator to get going. Nothing happened. I then called up the hotel operator by phone to inform them that we were stuck in the elevator. We were told that she would immediately inform the technical maintenance department.
After about 7-8 minutes we were told by the technicians outside that they were working to get the elevator moving. We also found out that we were stuck between the 32nd and the 33rd floors. It was 19.16 hours.
There were seven of us in the elevator at the time. We exchanged information on what we all wanted to do on the 33rd floor. We were all talking and chatting about all sorts of things. Two ladies were professors at a local Management college and two young men were MBA students. All four wanted to go to a lecture being held on the 33rd floor of the hotel. Then there were two other young girls.
19.45 hours: After about 45 minutes in the elevator there were no signs that it would be repaired any time soon. I therefore asked my fellow passengers to stop joking about being stuck so that the people outside would take things seriously and hurry up.
I was now getting worried about Horst being able to reach the airport in time. I therefore contacted my sister on the phone and asked her to keep herself ready to fetch Horst from the hotel. She would have to drop him off at the airport in case the elevator was not repaired sometime soon. I then tried to contact Horst through the Reception desk. Horst does not use a mobile phone. I described what Horst was wearing and where we had been sitting last in the lobby. Unfortunately Horst had the urge to move his legs just then. He was not at the place I had left him and was not to be found.
There was nothing I could do but wait. The technicians could open the elevator doors for about 50 cm to talk to us. However, for safety reasons nobody was allowed to climb in or out of the elevator in case it started moving suddenly.
A photograph from the elevator between two floors.
Hotel staff handing water bottles to the guests stuck in the elevator.
Finally, at around 20.20 hours the elevator started moving and we could get off at the 33rd floor. After talking briefly to the hotel manager who apologized profusely for the mishap, I grabbed a bottle of water and went into the next elevator, with a very funny feeling I must admit, to go down to the hotel lobby.
Horst was walking around in the lobby. I told him quickly what had happened and went to the hotel restaurant for a quick pizza. We left the hotel at around 21.15 hours in a taxi and arrived at the airport at 22.20 hours. People without valid flight tickets are not allowed to enter the airport buildings for security reasons and I therefore had to wait outside while Horst went in. I waited outside for about 30 minutes since I was not sure how Horst would get along at the flight check-in and immigration desks where nobody speaks German. Apparently everything went well.
To be absolutely sure I called Horst on the next day at around 11.00 hours German time in his apartment. Horst answered the phone immediately and I was relieved that he was back home safely.
Between the 17th and 24th January I visited my various suppliers in different parts of India.
The organizers Procam and their staff had been extremely helpful and gone out of their way in allowing Horst to finish the run. I therefore wanted to thank them properly before I left Mumbai. I had spoken to Vivek in the week after the marathon and asked him about the number of people working in his office. I told him that I would be coming over to his office on 25.01.2012 with some cake for his staff.
On 25.01.2012 I picked up the three cream cakes that I had ordered and brought them over to the Procam office for the 30 odd staff.
Thank you Procam once again for your help and understanding.
Vivek could not leave it at that and gave me an Asics tracksuit for Sigrid and a T-shirt and cap each for Horst and myself.
The Times of India article on Horst can be read/seen with the following link:
The MIDDDAY article on Horst can be read/seen with the following link:
The Mumbai Mirror article on Horst can be read/seen with the following link:
The Mumbai Mirror article on Sigrid can be read/seen with the following link:
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für diesen sehr bewegenden Bericht
dass du Horst
und Sigrid (Interview im Ziel)
so phantastisch unterstützt hast.
Du bist ein wahrhaft fairer Sportsmann.
I read everything thoroughly and am deeply impressed by your writing skills. You could have become a novelist as well.It´s a story full of suspense with the elevator story as its climax.
Thank you very much for a cosy evening at home enjoying your report and the newspaper articles attached.
Best regards, Jobst
Unser schottisches Mitglied Peter Burns bat mich um Veröffentlichung:
I very much enjoyed reading your article on the Mumbai Marathon. I guess it wasn't much fun at the time but at least you can now look back with a high degree of self satisfaction. It is a wonder, with all the drama unfolding, that you managed to run at all! You could not have made the story up.
In a relatively short space of time you fulfilled the roles of tour operator and guide, deputy race director, TV mogul, hospital visitor, businessman..... and, eventually, raconteur! I can just imagine Horst refusing to give up but, as you say, it is unlikely he would have had his medal without your efforts. The fact that you went back to help him along is no more than I would have expected. Mary and I experienced the same warmth and kindness when you looked after us last time we were in Germany. I would like to think that I would do the same for a clubmate but, in truth, I doubt if I would be physically able these days after finishing a marathon!
The episode in the lift just added to the interest of the story. Here again, I don't think I could have been so concerned for others. I would have been too busy dealing with my own claustrophobia!!!
I don't know if I'll make it to the Mumbai Marathon one day, but if I do, whatever happens, I know it won't be the most heroic Mumbai Marathon attempt ever. Surely, Horst and you will jointly retain that honour.
Thanks for a most readable article.
Best wishes to you and your family.
Peter and Mary Burns
Email from Mike Friedl in Istanbul:
Hallo Hiren ,
habe gerade Deinen Bericht auf der Web-Site des “10Oderter Clubs” über den Besuch und der Teilnahme in Mumbai –Marathon gelesen . Nachdem ich in diesem Jahr wegen Zeitgründen usw., nun nicht nach Indien gekommen bin ...........habe ich nachdem Lesen Deines berichtets Sehnsucht nach dem Lauf in Mumbai bekommen , im kommenden Jahr bin ich wieder dabei .
Dafür habe ich eine etwas verrückte Tour im Jan. gemacht , siehe nachfolgend
Von 2 Hallenmarathons ( 42 + 50 Km ) in Senftenberg , dann über Dubai (42 Km ) in die Wüste Al Karama , nachfolgend nach Rodgau ( 50km ) und zurück ins verschneite Istanbul ( 5 Grad minus am Tag der Rückehr ) ...............siehe anbei einige Bilder ( teilweise mit meiner Frau Fulya )
-Wahl Osmanischer Wunderlaeufer-
Email from Jean-Benoit Jaouen from somewhere in Rajasthan (India)
Thank you for this link, interesting reading.
I'm still in India... I spent 3 months in the south states and I am now in Rajasthan.
Marvellous country !
email received from Anand Venkatraman, reporter Times of India, Mumbai:
Oh my god! Quite an adventure your trip was this time. I was blissfully unaware about horst's pain and admire his courage and conviction in attempting to finish the marathon.
It has made me a bigger fan of horst. Do convey him my regards.
I do commend you and your perseverance in allowing horst to finish a marathon.
You too deserve a big round of applause.
It is a great story and adds to the folklore of running. I will always use your and horst's example in future reference as an example of courage and determination and the selfless act by you to help Horst finish a marathon.
(by the way Anand’s time this year in Mumbai was 4h 16m 43s. Congratulations)
Email from Sanjay Panday, columnist for "Mumbai Samachar", Mumbai (a daily newspaper in Gujarati language)
Wow , Thrilling one and nicely written , Hirendrabhai !
B rgds / Sanjay Pandya