Where? In the Indian Himalayas.
Date? 8 October 2022, the very first edition of this event.
Distance? 4 categories – 10, 15, 20 & 30k
Organisers? Boots and Crampons
On Saturday October 8 2022, I took part in my first ever trail running event, and to boot, in the inaugural edition of the Indrahar Summit Run.
You are going to have to trust me here, since clearly I have little or no idea as to how a trail race should be organised, but let me tell you how the logistics and organisation of this race were – superb.
The run started in the Himalayan town of Mcloudganj and headed up to the Indrahar Pass (4342m/14,245 ft) and back down to the start point, with 4 levels – 10, 15, 20 and 30k.
I did Level 3, the 20k distance, with a turn-around at the Snow Line – and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being crazy slow.
HOW on earth my fellow runners actually ran – and fast!! – on the boulders and rocks, I dunno, but I took it super slowly. and even so still managed to trip and fall a few times.
The day before the race, at bib collection, we had a gear check and a safety briefing.
Race day was an early start. 4am for the 30k runners, 4.30am for my category, and in the pitch darkness boy oh boy did I understand why the organisers insisted on seeing our head torches at the gear check.
The route was clearly marked with green arrows painted on rocks, which was easy once the sun rose, but in those first 2 hours of darkness, it was a case of keeping our eyes open, and looking for the torches of volunteers who were stationed at crucial bends in the first few kilometres.
There were regular aid stations, some more kitted out than others, but all of them had water. And all of them had super friendly people manning them, cheering as I tottered past, enquiring whether we needed water or chocolates or bananas. At one station, squeezed next to a tiny Hindu shrine, there was a medical kit open, ready, I suppose, for anyone needing plasters for any scrapes or blisters. At each station on the way up and down we were marked present on their lists, and sent on our way with a smile and a cheerful “Good job!”.
Fantastic work from these youngsters.
The higher stations – at Triund and the Snow Line for example – were such friendly places that the temptation was to plonk yourself down there and hang out in the sunshine with snacks and views to die for 🙂
The route was steep, and quite boulder-y and rocky, though there were mercifully a few (rare) straight bits where I could run – fast! – and pretend that was my standard pace, but I’ll be honest and admit that most of my run was more of a scramble and brisk walking.
I was simply too apprehensive to run in the dark, picking my way gingerly from rock to rock. In the forested bits there were slippery leaves and tree roots.
But for me this race was always going to be about taking part, and enjoying this first experience of high altitude trail running.
Discovering an alternative to road running.
Being in the mountains, which is always a win, as far as I am concerned.
I absolutely loved every second of it, despite being so slow, and came away with many learnings.
One such learning is that, just like at La Ultra in Ladakh in April, yet again my backpack was too heavy.
I packed headphones and a battery pack and charger, all of which went unused since I didn’t feel like listening to music. There was simply too much beauty to be absorbed. So that was all “wasted” weight in my pack.
I took about 5 energy bars with me, and only ate 1/2 of one, and in any case the aid stations were well equipped with chocolates and bananas so I needn’t have bothered. More “wasted” weight.
I had a shell jacket with me, which I wore for a bit when it started raining, but I think a lighter jacket would’ve done the job. And “saved” weight.
I wore Hoka trail running shoes, a new departure for me (first trail run, remember!) and they were game changers, helping me to move over rocks and slippery stones. Still managed to slip a couple of times, but that’s on me. I’ll post a separate review of the shoes anon.
Super chuffed to have done it.
And hats off to the team at Boots & Crampons for pulling off a race like this in such difficult conditions. Aid stations at 2000m, 3000m, and 4000m are no mean feat. The logistics are mind-boggling, getting the supplies and the people up there, to be ready and waiting for us.
Thank you so much to everyone who helped organise this fab race. Wishing you all nothing but success in future editions of this great, challenging run.