Heritage Run at Udagmandalam
“Is it okay, if I walk instead of running? I haven’t run in ages!!”
When I came to know about this GoUNESCO Heritage Run at Ooty, tempted as I was, I knew I would be panting more than I would be running. I had almost given up but a nagging lingering desire made me post a query on the public forum of Facebook page of Heritage Run.
And guess what? They replied in affirmative….in fact that is what they said they wanted…for people to see heritage in the sylvan beauty of the famous hill town.
Once upon a time I used to run…and win medals…but that was way back in school! Post marriage, I had taken to long walks, instead, catching up on gossips on the way with close friends.
I immediately registered for participating in the 5 kilometre RUN as soon as I knew that I was allowed to WALK and soak in the beautiful weather, the verdant hills, the chirping birds and the gentle breeze steeped in faintly pungent eucalyptus aroma…
The walk was scheduled on 29 th May at with Lawrence School, Ooty as the starting point. At the registration kiosk the previous day all participants had been provided with run ticket and a tee-shirt with Heritage Run logo printed on it.
On the day of run I reached promptly at six in morning. I was not expecting the warm-up session to be a freestyle dancing at foot tapping Bollywood numbers, but the mike toting girl of the team with her effervescent energy managed to bulldoze everyone from first time runners to marathon runners and from teenagers(well, they did not need any pushing around to dance) to enthusiastic 70 year-olds to sway to the catchy Hindi and Tamil movie songs.
5K run was last to be flagged off. The horse riders of the school led the run…and I was on my way for first such event. On account of rain previous day, the trail through the forest was muddy and slippery. Most participants were in groups and I found myself alone a while later trudging along the trail, marvelling at the flora and at the rolling tea estates at a distance.
Though the route was shortest of the three categories, for a first timer like me it was enough to have a general idea of whole Heritage Run Event. And accomplishing the walk along a trail along the mountains did give exhilarating feeling.
Post the run a sumptuous breakfast awaited us and few women of local Toda tribe performed for us.
Few takeaways from the walk
Go Heritage Runs
An off-shoot of GoUNESCO, Go Heritage Runs is an award-winning series of fun runs organized across India at various heritage locations, all through the year. Designed with an aim to make it a holistic experience and run-vacation for friends and family, these are organised at heritage sites like Hampi, Khajuraho, Murud-Janjira etc .
GoUNESCO has something for everyone travellers, writers, photographers, fitness enthusiasts and history buffs. They also have student programmes and volunteer options.
While the January saw participants run at Hampi, Karnataka, it was Warangal for February and Ooty in May. Next few runs are:
FEBRUARY: Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
MARCH: Halebidu, Karnataka
APRIL: Warangal, Telangana
MAY: Ooty, Tamilnadu
JUNE: Hyderabad, Telangana
JULY: Coorg, Karnataka
SEPTEMBER: Orccha, Madhya Pradesh
OCTOBER: Udaipur, Rajasthan
NOVEMBER: Bidar, Karnataka
DECEMBER: Srirangapatna, Karnataka
Stay: The organisers had catered for accommodation in school premises itself on first cum first serve basis and by April mid-week they were full. I had to fend for my stay. May-June being the peak tourist seasons at Ooty, it is better to plan and book accommodation as early as possible.
Cost: Excluding the cost of stay, I paid about Rs 1164 for the Heritage run which included breakfast, a tee shirt and participation fee.
Travel: Buses ply from Ooty bus stop to Lovedale where the school is situated. The Nilgiri Mountain Train needs early reservation for seat availability or like me one can travel standing inside a cramped compartment with other last-minute travellers. Taxis also are available at various spots.