“If you want to win something, run 100 metres. If you want to experience something, run a marathon” -three time Olympic gold medallist, Emil Zátopek
Running in the Mukteshwar Marathon 2014 that took place on 25th May was one such unforgettable experience. Besides running for a good cause (the marathon was organized to raise money for a school run by Chirag, a local charity), Aman, Deepak and I were looking forward to running a marathon in the mountains, at an altitude of 2,286 metres.
Mukteshwar’s picture-perfect beauty was breath taking
15 days before the D-day, Team Tripper, as we called ourselves got together to discuss travel arrangements, and of course, the prep for the race. There were three categories in this event- a 21 km Half Marathon, a 21 km Corporate Relay and a 5 km Dream Run. We were competing in the Corporate Relay Challenge, wherein three members per team would run 7 kms each. As the much awaited weekend arrived, we caught a direct bus from New Delhi to Kathgodam, which took approximately 6.3 hours.
Upon reaching the small, scenic town of Mukteshwar, we were welcomed by chaiwallahs, all ready for business. The nippy morning was a welcome change from Delhi’s gruelling summer, and a piping hot cup of chai was all we needed to shake off any sign of tiredness.
The drive to Mukteshwar was full of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the three of us. For a moment we forgot we were there to participate in a marathon and behaved like tourists from the plains. Armed with DSLRs, Deepak and I took full advantage of this drive, and clicked pictures of beautiful, misty valleys along the way.
A two-and half hour ride and hundred photos later, we arrived at our hotel in Mukteshwar. After a quick check-in and a sumptuous breakfast, we decided to walk up to Brahmeswara Temple and Chauli Ki Jali, which are amongst the top tourist attractions here. The walk was very picturesque and we stopped at various lookout zones for photos, and sometimes just to soak in the beauty. It also gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better, sharing stories of our past adventures. We bonded as a team and became friends. And probably, it was the magical mountain air which made us unusually animated, specially since we had barely caught a wink the night before. Deepak enthusiastically chatted up a few locals and was delighted to know that the marathon was a big event which they were looking forward to. Aman and I made new friends too. I would like to give a special mention to Gambo, the German Shephard, who happily ditched his owner for a walk with us.
Shipra, Deepak and Aman- Team Tripper
Before long we reached the temple, and settled down at the steps to take a break, snacking on Kafal, yummy berries peppered with a tangy masala. The vendors near the temple were a friendly lot and happily posed for photographs.
A few hundred meters ahead of the temple was the marathon registration desk. 401, 402 and 403- were our bib numbers. The geek in Aman was disappointed for not getting number 404, the common “File Not Found” error message online.
There was also a cultural programme organised by the school children and local women. They sang traditional Kumaon songs which echoed in our heart. It was very touching to see cards made by the school children, wishing luck to the marathon runners.
The cultural programme and greeting cards by the local women and children was indeed touching
We also made a quick visit to the beautiful ‘Chauli Ki Jali’. Massive rocks dangerously hanging over the cliff and the view of the valley was breathtaking. There were mountain peaks as far as the eye could see. One can also do rappelling here, but fatigue was slowly creeping in, and we decided to head back to the hotel to get some rest for the race next morning.
Finally, the D-Day arrived! We reached the start point at 6:30 in the morning. The arrangements were surprisingly good for a small town event like this. Glucose biscuits, bananas and energy drinks were available at the starting point and after every 2.5 kms on the route. There were about 200 odd people running with us that day- locals and outsiders included. The race started at 7:30 AM. We had decided a day before that I would run the first leg of the marathon as it was a mix of plains and relatively easy inclines. The boys took on the tougher routes with difficult climbs. It was absolutley amazing, running in the mountains amidst scenic views, with the locals cheering us on.
The proud trio posing after the marathon
Our team clocked an overall time of 2 hrs 37 mins, and came in fourth. After the race, we were presented with medals and certificates in a small presentation ceremony. We returned home the same day, feeling very proud of having represented MakeMyTrip in this event.
You can also read about the highlights from last year’s Mukteshwar Marathon, by clicking here
The blog has been written by Shipra Yadav, with inputs from Aman Bansal and Deepak Panwar.