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United by the Joy of Running

 Auroville Marathon reignites the spirit of teamwork, oneness and collaboration within the Yuvabe team and the community at large. 

Early morning on 18th Feb 2024, just before twilight hit the skies, some passionate runners with torches in their hands lined up at Auroville’s Visitor’s Center and began a journey of running, jogging, walking through Auroville’s winding forest paths. This was the beginning of the 14th edition of the Auroville Marathon and it was truly an amazing, exhausting, exhilarating event; one that the Yuvabe team is so proud to have helped organize. 

Marathon participants getting ready to start at dusk.

"Welcome to 14th Auroville Marathon 2024" poster at the start line.

Every year, the Saracon Campus of Auroville organizes the AV Marathon with the help of many dedicated volunteers, all united by the sheer joy of running. Originally started to celebrate the 40 years of Auroville, in the year 2008, the enthusiastic participation attracted many runners from other cities and it was decided to make it an annual affair. After a break of three years (due to the Covid-19 pandemic), the Marathon team was keen on breathing back life into the event this year. 

Since Yuvabe has the good fortune of being part of SaraCon campus, as well as having a team of young, enthusiastic folks, the major chunk of organizing and managing the event was given to us and it turned out to be one of the most significant projects we’ve ever taken up; one that brought about a sense of collaboration and collective effort in a big way.  

One of the biggest events organized in Auroville, the Marathon brings thousands of runners from across the country to our city of dawn. Here is a tidbit of all the fun and madness and challenges that went on behind the scene: 

Marathon Bib distribution at Bharat Nivas held a day before the race.

Challenge 1: Registration Drive 

The three year gap had created a loss of momentum and till about a month before the decided Marathon date, we saw just over a hundred registered runners. The goal we had in mind: a whopping number of 3000 ! Yuvabe’s digital marketing team took this challenge head-on and using a perfect combination of a focussed marketing strategy and creativity, managed to get the registrations to 2980, in under 30 days! “We surpassed many of our own expectations and what we thought we would be able to do,” says Priya Kekre, digital marketing mentor at Yuvabe.

Challenge 2: Communication design

The three year gap since the previous Marathon didn’t bode well for the materials stored either. The direction boards, banners, and all communication material from previous years had been pretty much eaten up by either humidity or termites, ants and such. In addition, fresh direction boards needed to be created for the new routes added to the track. 

This presented an opportunity to create everything anew. Not just the direction boards and the maps, but also the logo, the marathon finisher medal, T-shirts, thank you tokens and everything in between were designed by our team of creative designers. 

Challenge 3: Volunteer Management

Probably the most important and time taking part of the Marathon! An event of this size, required about 300 volunteers, who would support the organizing team in registration, bib distribution, take care of aid stations across the 21km path, cycle around the track to support runners with finding the directions, handle purchase and logistics of supplies, medical personnel coordination, and more. Here’s where we tapped into the real power of WhatsApp groups!

In just under a month of sending out the call for volunteers, we received responses from hundreds of people who came together in groups to be a part of this event. Working day and night, the Marathon was a completely volunteer-led event and it was truly heartening to work with everyone who stepped forward and volunteered their time and energy to make this happen.  

Auroville Marathon participant running early morning through the lush red dirt paths.


In the early morning hours leading up to the Marathon, before the runners gathered at the starting point, Yuvabe members with their respective volunteer teams spread out across Auroville, to prepare their designated aid station spots. The teams set up the stalls, with water, electrolytes, fruits and other refreshments. Medical stations were also installed where doctors had prepared a fully functional medical aid set up. 

Catering to the needs of three categories of runners - 10K, 21K, 42K, and the whole event not being a timed one, the station aid members had quite a day in front of them. In addition to this, a separate 5km dream run was organized for the school children within Auroville and the relatives of the Marathon runners. Here too we saw enthusiastic participation by children who also did a great job of cheering on the half and full marathon runners.

Auroville Marathon runner passing by aid/drink stations.
At the aid stations, while a lot of the time was spent on refilling the refreshments, and collecting and sorting waste, a very important role was bringing cheer, fun and encouragement to the runners! 

Participant posing with her medal.

As the final runners began to draw close to the finish line, at a little past noon, Yuvabe’s coordination team went around the 21km track communicating with the rest of the volunteers, to pack up and close the stations one by one, and with it marking the culmination of this year’s Marathon! 

It was truly amazing to see so many people from everywhere come together to be a part of it. “I am so amazed with our team, no better example of a collective spirit, a feeling of oneness and purpose! Coming together to make this event a possibility” said Sriman, co-founder and mentor at Yuvabe. 

Members of every unit of the Saracon Campus, so many youngsters from our village community, and groups from different AV units, came together to make this a reality. 

We are so grateful to have had the most enthusiastic group of volunteers, the guidance of marathon organizers and more importantly trust of the Marathon team, that we could do it! 

The AV Marathon was so much more than running; it was the perfect opportunity for the community to come together, welcome people from all walks of life, from across the country; manifesting a spirit of teamwork and oneness all around! 


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