There have been teams finishing throughout the day here at Expedition India and in the late evening we’ve had a rush of Indian teams coming across the line.
Some have completed more of the course than others (to be honest I don’t know who has been where), but that doesn’t matter. What matters is they all crossed the finish line having done as much of the route as they could, and that compares to only one team entering the previous Expedition India and then failing to complete the first stage.
There were some expectations there might be the same outcome again, but that is far from the case. So far 6 Indian teams have come over the line, and the two Indian Navy teams are still racing and due to finish tomorrow.
That is an impressive result and among those over the line this afternoon was the Kolkata Police team, who were transported to TA7 having recovered from their raft capsize and river rescue, and managed to find some new equipment. They then rode back to the finish and their proud manager, who has followed them all the way around, was there with a big Kolkata Police flag to wave as they came in.
At the back of the race for much of the time was the Nth Adventure team and in a buzzing hotel lobby where the race was feeding most of the arriving Indian teams all at once, they told me their race story.
“It was an indescribable experience for us,” said Ajita Madan, “and the course was incredible. It was so huge, we couldn’t really comprehend it and went to so many fantastic places. They were places we would never have visited on our own as tourists.”
“We have learnt a lot about ourselves and got through a couple of low points where we were close to giving up. The first was on the first night as we were trekking. It was cold and had been raining, then snowing and we were walking on snow and the place was very wild. We hadn’t seen any habitation for a couple of hours and if we went on were not sure of the way. We thought of pushing the SOS button on the tracker.
“But some things helped us. A dog had followed us and it was comforting. We saw the eyes of some wild animals and it barked to frighten them away. And we remembered your advice to never give up on the first night of a race. So we found a big rock to shelter under and squashed up together to keep warm. It was so cold. We didn’t sleep but we survived until daylight and felt better and ready to go on.”
(This team had contacted SleepMonsters on Facebook asking for advice before the race and chatted with Adam Rose and myself.)
She continued, “Our other low point was the huge uphill on the cycle stage which went on forever and we could not understand how anyone could ride all the way up it! The other international teams are so amazing and an inspiration to us.”
With later finishers at a race it is rare to see as much excitement and energy as there was tonight with the rush of Indian teams finishing so close together.
I think they’ve got the adventure racing bug, will want more, and will tell their friends. And now they know what it is all about I am sure they will train and put on more of their own races.
International teams will go home with special memories of the race of lifetime, but for the Indian teams it might also be the inspiration to build adventure racing in their incredible country.
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