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An International Documentary of the Race(PDF)

The film will track every participant's progress throughout the race, capturing their moments of strength and weakness amidst the overwhelming beauty of the mountains among them... Read more..

Peter Green for Run247 article(website)

Wind Chasers - Indian Express Hyderabad to Himalayas   May 8, 2012 (Tuesday).

Endurance Running :

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET - Sunday - Hindustan Times, Mumbai, April 15, 2012

ON THE MOVE First, there were the marathons. Now, urban Indians are testing their limits with endurance sports such as ultra-marathons, desert and mountain races, diathlons and triathlons.

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WindChasers’ Himalayan Run Expedition of 2011:

Nine runners from different parts of the world and with different backgrounds and age group. United only by the passion for running. An earthquake a few days before in the area where they are supposed to run, yet Seven of them boldly took the chance not to miss the calling of the Himalayas. The scene was set for the Himalayan Run Expedition organized by the group called the WindChasers with the help of an extremely talented group of mountain experts under the wings of Pemba Sherpa.
There is Carl and Nancy Koecher from USA – a septuagenarian serious ultra-runner. Then there is Priyadarshini from India, first youngest Indian woman to finish the Himalayan 100 mile race. Then, Anu and Sunita from India, serious marathoners, trekked the Kilimanjaro, Everest Base camp and on to the Everest marathon. Then, Sonya, super mom, journalist and runner. And me, RamSethu from USA - first person of Indian origin to finish the 255KM Sahara Desert Race and the Gobi Desert Race and the Race director for this run. The crew consisted of seven experts who knew the mountains like the back of their hand. Pemba, Uttam, Sangay, Lakpa, Dawa, Deewakar and Pankaj the expedition entertainer!

Pemba flagged off the run from Maneybanjang, where we spent the night, our target was Maneybanjang-Tumling-Sandakphu-Phalut-Rammam and Rimbik in 5 days, our route was to follow the straight line up on cobble stoned paths all the way upto an elevation of 3636 meters to Sandakphu and then down to Rimbik, the distance was 100KM. The plan was set and we were all happy to be homeless, because, we felt we were ‘at home’ in the Himalayas! But the Himalayas, as always had another experience for us in store to ‘bend’ our plans to suit its needs. Life’s lessons learned that we behave like a blade of grass; we end up enjoying the wind that blows us. The Himalayan experience was one such lesson and we all ended up enjoying the whole expedition with beautiful memories and thoughts.

What makes endurance racing infectious are the pleasures and excitement one gets in the “means” to the “end” and not the “end” alone. The “means” is what did it for us.

Like any other tourist says Carl. “I love looking at the vistas, going to museums and all the rest of the things tourists do. But my first love is interacting with the people I meet along the way. On my desk, I have a picture of Ram, Jim Chow and myself to remind me that three different people, different ages, from different parts of the world and cultures can be friends and share our love of adventure. All of you on our trek reinforced that belief.”

Carl remembers some of the highlights of the run for him, Stopping for tea and meeting a teacher of English and having his students stop by to practice their English on us, Staying at the hotel in Darjeeling was like going back in time to 1920’s or 30’s., The unplanned ride in the Land Rover had everyone bursting out laughing as we bumped along on the cobblestone road and saying “I can’t believe we trekked up this steep road”. And to top it all, the crew not only knew about the Himalayas but also to fix a broken Axle on the spot and get us to our next destination the same day. He goes on to say, “The food that the crew prepared for us was amazing. We wouldn’t have missed this adventure for the world!”

For Sunita who loves photography and challenge, the run gave her an opportunity to experience the challenge while enjoying the beauty of the Himalayas. She says, “The attention to details was irresistible, especially as it pertained to food. The locals were so nice, innocent and hospitable. They lead a very simple life, without the comforts we take for granted. They need to work very hard for every little thing. Yet, they seem very happy and content. We all can learn a lot from them in this day and age of stress filled urban lives. I had an amazing experience!!!”

For Priyadarshini, who is always on the go, who very deservingly earned the title of “woman with many feathers in her cap” and fun loving, the Himalayan run was a repeat of her feat that she did a few years ago. As an extreme in everything she did, she loved mountains and to her the Himalayas are an epiphany, a divine manifestation. For her, the first introduction to the beauty of the Himalayas was in 2007 when she participated in a race in the Himalayas. The beauty of Kanchenjunga swept her off her feet like the ‘Kumbakarna’ himself waking up from sleep and something told her that she truly belonged here in her heart. She says, “Running here in the Himalayas is always a pleasure and experiencing the beauty of Kanchenjunga was the climax that was so be-fitting for the finish”.

Sonya, the journalist and super mom, had to deal with much more enduring activities before the race with some last minute twists and turns at her household. But the adrenaline rush that the Himalayas had to offer made her achieve all those with no problems. She was always on the go, even when it was pouring rain outside, ready to go out and explore the beauty. She says, “Ram just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for such a wonderful run. Thanks for making it so perfect in every way - the food, the route, and the company and of course the race director! Wouldn’t have changed anything at all even the rain in Sandakphu!” Goes on to say after her return to Mumbai; “Back to the plains and it’s such a comedown! Looking forward to another run. Soon???”

Anu who loved the challenge says. “It definitely was a heart-breaker. The long, steep inclines coupled with low oxygen meltdown, made it an extreme Run. But as Ram …our ‘Wind Chaser’ aptly says, “Endure to let go” and that is what you needed to do to experience the essence of it. And it was the fabric of the group that enhanced this experience further.”

She goes on to add that the highlight of the trip for her was “when the orange Sun slowly rose over the horizon and spread its rays over the so close magnificent Kanchenjunga. The peaks glistening, the birds twittering, the cool, mountain air spreading its scent, Mount Everest shimmering at a distance and the proud Indian Flag at the outpost fluttering….what more could one ask for! Everything was in perfect harmony and balance. Words fall short to describe the feeling …..I guess it can only be experienced. ”Man proposes…..God Disposes”.

For Pemba and his crew of seven dedicated and trusted personnel, the Himalayan run had been an experience of a different kind. Pankaj, the entertainer, Sangay and Lakpa the master chefs, Deewakar and Dawa the lone rangers, Uttam the master coordinator, and finally Pemba the uber- cool, suave and gentle coordinator who doesn’t even forget the smallest details and is always attentive to everyone’s needs, simple or complicated with total concentration and interest. The WindChasers’ experience that everyone realized was to a large extent because of the warmth and attentiveness that Pemba and his crew provided to the runners. The runners didn’t have to think twice before asking for “chai” any time in the day or night by adding a little bit of challenge of the third kind; with milk, without milk, little milk no sugar, no milk with sugar, all the permutations that even Sangay couldn’t cook up. But the runners invariably got their ‘chai’ with a bit of ‘humor’ to top it off as a bonus from the ever energetic ‘Pankaj the entertainer’!

For me, the excitement about running the WindChasers Himalayan Run is to be part of nature, the Himalayas and to partake with runners from all over the world and of all ages. To me the uplifting moment was to see the ‘sleeping Buddha’, the irresistibly beautiful Kanchenjunga, when the clouds cleared and we had one of the fabulous views ever. Two questions always come to me at the very end of every run that I had been in the Himalayas and sure enough it did this time as well. “Is it over already? And how long do I need to wait for the next one?” Immediately thereafter, a sudden realization dawns on me, as always. The Himalayas is always there. It’s only ‘us’ who needs to make up our minds to get there!

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