Race, Rhythm and Coffee


The current chapters share many processes, but also retain their uniqueness. This is the flavor that CR Pettai Runners brings to the fitness community

The current chapters share many processes, but also retain their uniqueness. This is the flavor that CR Pettai Runners brings to the fitness community

With rapped Madras lingo for the lyrics, Pettai Rap from the 1994 blockbuster Kadhalan has been the unofficial anthem of the subway, echoing through the decades, and occasionally ricocheting off unlikely walls. In 2010, the song had Rakesh Raghunanthan, storyteller and food historian, twisting its title to PetaWrap to refer to localized versions of the Mexican burrito he offered at tuk-tuk-like kiosks. Around the same time, a group of runners from Alwarpet and surrounding areas were also applying the tilt tool in this capacity – and this marked the birth of Pettai Rappers, a chapter of Chennai Runners.

Yasir Sultan, a core member of CR Pettai Rappers, notes that this is a historic chapter, being the very first to be dropped from the parent group. The chapter retained the hallowed ground where Chennai runners would start their races in their early years – a place on CP Ramasamy Salai. Yasir further explains that two of the founders of Chennai Runners – Ram Viswanathan and Harishankar – are still part of CR Pettai Rappers.

On a casual note, Yasir points out a feature in CR Pettai Runners that he says is probably the least shared by most other chapters. “We are all musical and coffee aficionados, and the fact that there are a lot of sabhas with their canteens around us is a big plus. For us, coffee is everything. Alwarpet flush with coffee stains. We love our running, but also our Sabha cafes and canteens.

CR Pettai Rappers represents Mylapore, Alwarpet, RA Puram, Mandaveli, Teynampet, Boat Club, Poes Garden, Gopalapuram and Kotturpuram. “A few members are from Kilpuak,” Yasir reveals.


Members of CR Pettai Rappers congregate three times a week, with their congregation point being CP Ramasamy Salai. Tuesday is for intervals and flyover rehearsals, with the Academy of Music flyover being used for the latter; Thursday is for tempo work; and on Sunday for the Low Slow Distance race. “We’ve included a special Saturday session just for beginners,” explains Yasir Sultan. “When it comes to routine racing, newbies invariably end up having no company. On this day, the assembly time is late – 6 am – compared to the usual time of 5:15 am, which we think would be a bit earlier for a beginner to be comfortable. Saturday’s run is called Jolly Run or Easy Run – we make sure it’s really easy for beginners. 

 As chapters go, CR Pettai Rappers should be compact.  “There are about 150 registered members, but on average, 20-25 people show up for a race. When an event is brewing, the number is much higher,” says Yasir.

As with any running group, beyond regular races, CR Pettai Rappers have challenges, two of the most notable to come during the intense phases of the pandemic in an exercise to keep the group together, overcome curve balls from distance and insulation.

Yasir explains: One of those two virtual challenges was Pettai Mission 1000, which involved getting the whole group to walk 1,000 km in a weekend. “In the range of 8 km to 20 km, each runner was allowed to run a distance of their choice. They could run wherever they wanted: inside their dealership or on their street. Each participant cannot do several races, only one race. We timed 1100 km as a group. It was quite uplifting for the group to come together virtually and rack up such a number. The other virtual challenge was a relay race, which divided the group into teams of four. Each runner on a team should have done a 5K and together they would have run the distance of a half marathon. Interesting names had been assigned to the teams. We had opened a google form where participants had to submit the distance traveled and proof of this, in the form of a link to the details of their route recorded by their tracking device. These virtual races kept members on their toes.

The paths

On Tuesdays, the race is mainly towards the marina via TTK Road, RK Salai, Gandhi Statue; and return to CP Ramasamy Salai. On Thursday, the race would be to Elliots Beach via Greenways Road, Adyar Bridge and Besant Nagar; and back. On Sunday, as it is a slow long distance race, the group heads first to Besant Nagar beach, then to Indira Nagar MRTS; OMR;Kotturpuram andBoat Club; and back. This race is a 16km loop.

No matter how wisely they adapt to situations like this and connect effectively online, it would be a huge disappointment to geographically defined interest groups when changing circumstances prevent them from saying their “hello” – and well, happy birthday too – in person. At CR Pettai Rappers, there is a culture of celebrating members’ birthdays on the last Thursday of their birthday month. The celebration would take place on the sidelines of what is called the Last Thursday of the Month (LTOM) race. After a long lull, the sweet melody of the simple happy birthday song swept through CR Pettai Rappers again on the last Thursday of February, when she cooed this bubbly song to four of its members.

For more details on CR Pettai Rappers, call Narayanan (9840413012) and Prakash (9940662510).

The chapter documents its activities on its Instagram account – @pettairappers

The birthdays of four members of CR Pettai Rappers were celebrated jointly on a last Thursday in February 2022.

The birthdays of four members of CR Pettai Rappers were celebrated jointly on a last Thursday in February 2022. | Photo credit: special arrangement


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