Tawang: There couldn’t have been any better inaugural edition of the Tawang Marathon, a mega sporting event jointly organized by the Indian Army and the Arunachal Pradesh State government at Tawang on Sunday. The event, a first of its kind in the entire northeast saw enthusiastic participation by the locals and runners from all over the country.
Over all 25 states were represented by passionate runners who participated in four race categories i.e. marathon, half-marathon, 10km and 5km run. The local participation, especially by the youth, their support and enthusiasm for the event was phenomenal to put it mildly.
Conducting a Marathon in high-altitude region that too with a disadvantage of long travel time to the nearest airport and railway network is indeed challenging.
And therefore, the high participation achieved would’ve been inconceivable to the organisers who had been planning the event for past over 11 months.
Against an aim of crossing 1,500–2,000 participants in the inaugural Marathon, the numbers achieved were as follows:-
Valid registrations – 2463 (including 543 women)
Participants reported-2343 (including 511 women)
42km – 114 (including 07 women)
21km – 314 (including 10 women)
10KM – 563 (including 21 women)
5KM – 1,352 (including 473 women)
Apart from the Indian Army which organised the event, there was active participation by the Indian Navy (31-member team) and the IAF (12-member team) at the event. All the CAPFs like BSF, CRPF, SSB, CISF, ITBP also sent in their teams. According to some of the reputed ace marathoners who participated in the event, this is perhaps one of the most challenging high-altitude marathon in the country.
However, the insistence by the organizers on proper acclimatization period for all outside runners paid well with only 3 DNF (did not finish) in the complete event. The weather gods were also in a good mood and the runners enjoyed a pleasant day of running under excellent running conditions.
Category-wise winners are as follows:
Full Marathon – Arjun Pradhan 2:49:03 (Indian Army) and Priyanaka Kanwar 5:18:41
Half Marathon – Prem Kumar 1:21:23 and Aarti Bardhan (2:30:28)
10Km – Ramesh Kumar 00:40:52 and Rajshree M (1:04:59)
5km – Ankul Kumar (00:20:33) and Tenzin Choikey (00:27:01).
Guests for the event
Chief guests - Kiren Rijiju, Cabinet minister of earth sciences and Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu
Guests of honour – Tapir Gao, MP, Eastern Arunachal Pradesh; Mama Nathung, sports & youth affairs minister; and Lt Gen Manish Erry, GOC Gajraj Corps.
Speaking at the event, the corps commander said that after a good beginning, he was sure that with each passing year the event will draw more and more participation not only from India and not just the amateur runners but also some of the most competent runners joining the event at Tawang. He said that this event will benefit the local economy by pulling in more and more tourists, adventure seekers, ultra-athletes.
He hoped that the event has achieved its aim of putting Tawang on the marathon calendar prominently.
Happy with the success achieved by the inaugural edition of the Tawang Marathon, the chief minister, Pema Khandu appreciated the efforts put in by the organisers and announced that this will be an annual fixture now.
The chief minister also spoke about plans to encourage adventure activities and adventure tourism in the region because such activities help not just the tourism sector but also the businesses in host of associated activities, generating employment for the local youth. It will also highlight region’s rich cultural heritage to the wide world even more prominently.
Rijiju congratulated the organisers especially the Indian Army for an excellent conduct. He also lauded the enthusiastic local participation and hoped that the event will not only put Tawang on world marathon map but also set-up a tradition of many such sporting events annually.
The historic marathon coincided with the National Swachh Bharat Campaign which saw the participants and the audience, cleaning the Stadium premises with active participation even by the dignitaries including the chief minister.