"We are creating new formats which will complement our premium portfolio of marathons"

Anil Singh

The 2018 Mumbai Marathon is a landmark one as it marks the 15th edition of this iconic run, which has positioned the country's financial capital as one of the premier races across the globe. With the Tata group inking a 10-year deal to be the title sponsor of one of the world's top 10 marathons, the stature of this event has only been raised further. For Procam International, which pioneered the running movement across India, the effort now is not only to cement its leading position in distance running, but also to grow the portfolio without diluting the core values associated with its events.

In an interview with SportzPower, Procam's Managing Director, Anil Singh, elaborates on the new initiatives associated with the Tata Mumbai Marathon, and the track forward for the company's distance running portfolio.

The association of the Tata group as the title sponsor would have been one of the best things to have happened to the Mumbai Marathon.

You are absolutely right. The Tata brand is synonymous with great values and vision. Through TCS, the group has been associated with this race for a long time. Now, with a 10-year commitment to the event as the title sponsor, the Tatas have shown us yet again their commitment to give back to society through sport. We are honoured with their visionary approach and, as partners, we look forward to building a marathon legacy by providing the participants from across the world an extraordinary experience in this landmark edition.

Apart from the Tata group, has the event managed to attract more sponsors.

Yes. There have been a number of additions, but the major ones are Tata Motors with their brand Nexon as the Driven By Partner, and Bisleri as the Hydration Partner. The premium nature of the event ensures that we attract some of the top brands and derive greater value too.

What kind of increase in sponsorship monies have you witnessed for this edition.

While we won't be able to share numbers due to various reasons, I can say that there has been a substantial increase in the overall value of the event. This is reflective of the brand identity of the Mumbai Marathon as a prestigious event. Apart from being one of the top races in the world, the event has also become a beacon of humanity and compassion as the largest platform for chairty fund-raising. With the association of the Tata name, these values have been enhanced and it has helped the growth of the brand multi-fold.

A number of new initiatives have been announced for this edition. Could you provide some details on them.

We are celebrating the landmark year with a new identity which embraces the true spirit of the host city and running. The inspiration for the new logo of the Tata Mumbai Marathon is the Mumbai city and its seven islands. From the space inside the ‘seven islands of Mumbai’ emerges the shape of a runner, energetically moving forward like the bustling city itself. The logo’s vibrant colours represent a celebration of the diversity – the true spirit of a cosmopolitan Mumbai.

Keeping in mind the popularity of the Dream Run and to give a fillip to the emerging runner community, for the first time, there will be a 10K timed run exclusively via charity. This timed 10K Run is available only for participants above 15 years of age, who want to make a difference by running for charity.

Another embellishment to the Tata Mumbai Marathon is the exclusive 'Event Anthem' that has been composed by the dynamic duo Salim–Sulaiman and sung by the energetic Sukhwinder Singh. Titled Nikal Pado tho Mumkin Hai, the lyrics of the anthem have been penned by Prasoon Joshi, the noted lyricist.

One of my favourite initiatives is the The Inspiration Medal, which is a first-of-its-kind in world marathon history. At first glance, it looks like one medal, but it can be split into two medals: one for the finishers and the other for those who inspired them to #bebetter. All 42K finishers and the persons who inspired them will be awarded this medal.

With the Mumbai Marathon firmly established, are you considering to convert the other distance running events that Procam owns in India into full marathons.

Each of our events is a leader in its space. The Airtel Delhi Marathon is the largest half-marathon, the TCS World 10K Run in Bangalore, and the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K are again the top ones in their categories. Each of these are brands that have grown over the years and will not only continue its successful run, but also add value to these cities in multiple ways. Hence we don't see any reason to tinker with these successful events.

Many more running events, including full marathons, have mushroomed across the country. As the pioneer in distance running, do you think Procam has not been able to capture more cities and cement its leadership position.

When we launched the Mumbai Marathon in 2004, there was only one other timed event in the country. Now there are over 800 of them, which means on an average there are more than two taking place each day. We are proud to have set the trend and grown an entire industry which now revolves around not just distance running, but embodies health and fitness. However, we have been clear in what kind of events we would be doing, and have not been caught up in the numbers games because the emphasis has been on providing premium products. But it does not mean that we are not expanding in this space. We are working on new formats and should be able to announce them soon.

Could you elaborate on this new initiative.

These would be destination races. We are currently finalising a couple of them. While it is easy to finalise a destination, there is much more to it than that. It is a collaborative effort between multiple stakeholders, and requires active support from the government and people of the region.

Moving away from distance running, Procam had launched P1 Powerboat racing in 2017. The second edition is due this year, but there are talks that you might not be continuing with the race.

This is again a pioneering effort from Procam. Despite all odds, and obstructions, we conducted a successful inaugural edition. However, we realised that there is much more to the story than being just a single city race. In the 2017 season, we probably could only implement around 30 per cent of what we intended to do. Hence we are re-working the format, and will be back soon with a version which does justice to the stature of the sport.