Nashik: It was one of its kind marathon that saw the variety of participants, right from foreign sprinters to those from the busy tribal belts around Nashik. Nashik Runners organised its first event and the only hill marathon to be held in the district. The event — Saptashrungi Hill Marathon ( SHM) 2017 — was held in association with Saptashrungi Niwasini Trust on Sunday.
It was an international event with foreign marathoners and members of the local tribal population competing with Nashik and Mumbai runners. Isaac Kembul Ngemui from Kenya, Juan and Lina Mariela from Argentina and ultra-marathoners Satish Gujran and Bijay Nair who ran the 89-km Comrade Marathon in South Africa also participated. Satish has run in the Comrade Marathon a record eight times, while Isaac is the winner of Chennai Marathon.
The event saw an overwhelming response with a total of 600 participants. There were100 participants for the 21k, 250 for 10k and 250 numbers for 3k Divine Run. Food and accommodation were provided free of cost to the runners.
The weather was picture perfect for this tough marathon that started at 6.30am for the 21k, 6.45am for 10k and 7am for 3k. Saptashrungi Gad near Vani, is 60km from Nashik and as the name suggests it is situated on seven hills.
Isaac won the 21k marathon under the men’s category, finished the run in 1.14 hours and was all praise for the event. He said that this was one of the toughest marathons he had run in India.
Isaac added that he practiced running 250km a week as part of his training. When he heard of this marathon he asked the organisers about the prize money and travelled from Assam to Nashik. He reached at 3am on Sunday and ran the 21k marathon.
Runner up for 21k the under the women’s, Lina said, “Many thanks to all the organizers. The run was fantastic. I am grateful for the people we met today. I will participate again next year.”
The highlight of the event was the very well-planned first aid stations with five ambulances. Each set up had a doctor and was equipped with all the necessary medicines and a radio ham set for any eventuality. Water and refreshment stations were also set up at the appropriate sites.
Satish and Bijay also appreciated the challenge that the marathon provided and the way it was conducted. Manisha Raundal, another participant, said, “I enjoyed participating in the well-organised Saptashrungi Marathon. The volunteers were also very helpful.”
Mahendra Chhoriya, Nashik Runners secretary, said, “The basic idea was to compete with the Satara Hill Marathon. We also wanted to look for talent among the local tribal people living in and around this region. We gave a registration discount of 50% to them. There were three prizes each for 21k male and female and 10k male and female categories. Except for Issac and Lina, all the prizes were won by tribals. If we can find international runners like Kavita Raut and Monica Athreya from tribal areas, we may find more marathoners from tribal areas. Tourism will also increase here and in Nashik.”