The team from the Nepali Army finished Expedition India in 8th place today and they’ve captured the hearts of those on the race and earned a huge amount of respect, as well as showing what an inexperienced Asian team can achieve.
Race manager Shaukat Sikand who has been instrumental in getting so many Indian (and the Nepali team) racing here told them on the finish line, “We are so proud of you, we can’t express it,”
The team members are Dipesh Chaudhari, Basanta Tharu, Himal Tamata, and Pratap Thapa, and all are members of the Nepali Army adventure team. As an all-male team they won’t get a World Series ranking, but their performance is a huge step up for this group of young athletes and they are the first Nepali team to take part in the ARWS.
The team is put together by their manager Rajiv Chand and the first thing the team said on the finish line was how important their manager was in making it possible for them to race. They also said next time they would do some training ... now they know what is involved!
The team includes two mountain bikers, a triathlete and a national team rafter, which accounts for their comments that they found the trekking much the hardest of the stages, and really enjoyed the big river rafting. They do race at home in their own sports, and there are a couple of one-day adventure races organised in Nepal, but it’s a big jump up from there to a full expedition race.
Using old, heavy bikes, cheap trainers and equipment ,and despite their lack of experience they’ve held their own with some of the most experienced ARWS teams here. Much of the time it’s fair to say they’ve not understood what was going on! (The manager couldn’t be here with them.) They’ve often had equipment in the wrong places or not carried what was required, but kept on going to earn their 7th place.
It has been one of the many frustrations of working in India for the race to try and get the local teams to understand the rules and what they need to do. If you saw the Manali Mountaineering Institute team pin move away from TA7 on the tracking last night, it was because they’d taken their own bus to go off and sleep somewhere else! They’ve had a pick and mix participation in the race experience.
The Kolkata Police team never recovered their raft and rucksacks lost on the river, and had to borrow money this morning to get some new gear to keep going, and other Indian teams are being moved forward to ensure they can finish as much of the course as possible by tomorrow afternoon. The main thing is they have all kept going.
The Nepali team have not needed any such help and shown what great potential they have given more support and training.
[Editors note; While posting this story a monkey wandered into my room which I managed to chase out. I pulled the door closed but they are still trying to get in! Just one of the hazards of reporting in India I guess.)
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