Kohima: The ‘Kargil to Kohima Glory Run’, a unique ultra-marathon which was flagged off at Kargil War Memorial in Dras on September 21 by Air Vice Marshal PM Sinha, Air Officer Commanding J&K, culminated at Kohima War Cemetery in Nagaland on Wednesday.
25 air warriors and seven others who participated in the run were received by Air Marshal RD Mathur, AOC-in-C Eastern Air Command. An initiative of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the team was led by Squadron Leader Suresh Razdan.
Governor of Nagaland RN Ravi graced the short flag-in ceremony as a special guest. Also, several officials, veterans and NCC cadets attended the event.
Addressing the gathering, Ravi, who is also the interlocutor for Naga peace talks, lauded the IAF for the initiative and the runners for covering 4,500 km in 45 days crossing through all sorts of difficult terrains on foot.
Saying that the British have “demonised” the Naga society due to its headhunting history, Ravi urged the Air Marshall to “document” the Naga society which will “honestly and adequately reflect the glory and the ancient and present glory of the people where the journey has culminated”.
“It [Naga society] is one of the richest ancient living civilisations in the world and this fact has to be brought out to the country. The countrymen must know the culmination of this glory run to Kohima, a land of very rich civilisation,” he added.
Ravi further suggested that all 32 runners who made the record of running from Kargil to Kohima, be featured in the schools that they have studied in so that the upcoming generation can be inspired.
Commemorating 20 years of Kargil War and paying tribute to the soldiers of the war in 1999 as well as the Battle of Kohima in 1944, the runners crossed the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam and Nagaland.
During the journey of covering over 100 km a day, the air warriors also took time and interacted with students to promote awareness for pedestrian safety, Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat.
Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, team leader Razdan said: “The team started in ultra-cold climate temperatures about minus 6 to minus 8 and thereafter we progressed from the low-density oxygen area of the hills towards Leh and finally crossed three major passes in which maximum altitude that we touched was 17,500 ft. And through those terrain of rugged, where there were no tress and lack of oxygen, we ran through 100 km a day as a team effort and finally came down to the plains.”
Although the team enjoyed the favourable conditions of the east, particularly running along the stretch of Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Razdan recounted saying: “The most challenging part for the team was in the hills from past Leh when we encountered three most highest passes.”
For the team, the highest feat covered was 17,500 ft and the lowest being 13,500 ft in Manali. While the initial days were tough, the team managed to run to the entire distance.
Rishabh Jeet Kaur Bhatia, who was the only woman runner among the team of 32, said: “It was more motivating and inspiring for me because wherever the passages I was running, people felt more motivating seeing that a woman [was] running among the boys over there. Challenges were the same we started from a very high altitude, oxygen level was very less.”
“Being a woman, the only thing that I would say to the rest of the women is that you should not consider that we are weaker, or we are separate or we are left out. There were certain moments where I have encouraged the men in the team,” she added.
Among the runners aged between 21-51 years, IP Singh was the oldest. “My aim was to participate in this run and pay tribute to the fallen soldiers and give this message to my countrymen that age doesn’t matter. One can run at any age and take care of their health. Humans get physically tired, but not mentally tired,” he said.