Up by the Himalayas, in the town of Devprayag, rivers Alaknanda, Saraswati and Bhagirathi mix their own shades of blue to become the Ganges. It is here on a cool December morning, that participants of The Wild Warrior Himalayan Adventure Challenge 2020 will start cycling.
It has been a quiet year for Wild Warrior Ventures, Chennai’s first outdoor adventure and obstacle course racing outfit. Yet co-founders Somdev Devvarman, Vikram Menon, and Varun Gunaseelan are determined not to let 2020 pass them by without one major race.
So for the first time, Wild Warrior will be collaborating with Aquaterra Adventures from Rishikesh, an old face among outdoor adventure companies for their Himalayan adventure challenge from December 11 to 13. The race, comprising mountain biking, hiking or trail running, and river rafting, will be spread across 65 kilometres on land and water.
“We started with the Himalayan race for two reasons: one because Uttarakhand Government has opened up for tourism, and secondly, being in the outdoors, social distancing becomes easy,” says Varun. This is Wild Warriors’ second Himalayan event after one in Nepal in 2018.
The 65-kilometre race can be gruelling and is aimed at the experienced, though there are intermediary 30-kilometre and 10-kilometre versions for beginners. Participants will have to come in groups of four. “We will start from Devprayag and ride down with the river partially on road and partially on dirt trail. This will be followed by hiking and then a lunch break. After that, we will regroup with our team and raft,” he says.
Set your level
- 1. 65km Zealot – 30km mountain biking + 21km hiking + 14km rafting
- 2. 30km Open – 16km hiking + 14km rafting
- 3. 10km Intro – 5km rafting + 5km hiking
Rafting is the only sport which will have to be done with the group, the others are solo sports. To further maintain social distancing, the race will be staggered, with participants sent in batches of four per minute.
Some of Chennai’s well-known athletic personalities will participate, including actor Regina Cassandra and professional surfers and stand-up paddlers Kutti Rajsekar, Sekar and Anand. Regina, whose 30th birthday coincides with the day of the race, plans to take part in the 30-kilometre challenge, to raise funds for 30 children from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Though it is a one-day race on December 12, the participants will be hosted the day before and after, at the Atali Ganga resort in Rishikesh. “It is located on the banks of the Ganges. People can stay at either the 30 cottages, or the 50 tents (glamping, with beds and bathrooms inside) spread across the property,” says Varun.
It has been a while since the city’s fitness-enthusiasts have taken part in an outdoor race. With pandemic fatigue creeping in, many may not have the same energy levels. To get back on — the literal — track, Varun recommends strength training for the upper and lower body. “It is hard to practise rafting in Chennai, so the best option would be to head to Kovalam and practise watersports such as standup paddling and kayaking, along with strengthening the back muscles,” he says. There will also be a short orientation programme on December 11, for rafting.
His own training comprises mostly running, hitting a monthly average of 200 kilometres. “At the race, rafting will take just an hour as it is downstream, and cycling two more hours. It’s the running that will take four hours, and if you do that better, you will shave a lot off your overall timing,” he explains.
With the race Varun hopes to convince people of the importance of living in the moment, “We hope to continue races like these in the Indian Himalayas. Rishikesh is an important base but we are also looking at other places in Ladakh and Kashmir.”
CREDIT: THE VISION