Located barely 25 kilometres from India’s border with China, this small Arunachal Pradesh town is gripped by a sporting frenzy. A popular tourist destination, Tawang is now playing the role of a gracious host to 3,500 sportspersons who have arrived here for two events.
Sunday’s Tawang Marathon will witness more than 2,500 runners taking part while over 1,000 sportspersons, coaches and officials have arrived here for the 36th Senior National Tug of War Championship, which began on Friday.
Tawang is located just about 25 kilometres from the Line of Actual Control with China.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu was instrumental in bringing the events to this picturesque town, which offers a breathtaking backdrop for the exhilarating sporting competition.
“We are committed to nurturing and promoting sports at the grassroots level, (and) providing a national platform for our athletes too,” he told PTI here.
The marathon and the tug of war competition are taking place at a hill station located 11,500 feet above sea level at the picturesque town, nestled amid the lofty Himalayas. Both the state government and the Indian Army are working togethers to make the events a success.
“This will be one of the toughest routes of the marathon,” IV Corps General Officer Commanding Lt Gen Manish Erry said.
Khandu said the beauty of the tug of war lies in its simplicity. It is a battle of strength, a test of determination and teamwork. Sportspersons from 15 states are taking part in the tug of war championship.
According to the organisers, 2,400 runners, including 500 women, have registered for the marathon, which boasts the tagline “Conquer the Ultimate Endurance Challenge”.
Arunachal Pradesh is the land of mystic mountains, rising sun and pristine environment and everyone is welcome to join and feel the freshness of the early morning air during the marathon, they said. “So far 2,400 runners from 24 states and Union Territories have registered with us for the marathon. Besides, several hundred locals are also expected to join,” said Brigadier V S Rajput, commander of the Korea Brigade. The event will be held in four categories — 42 kilometres, 21 kilometres, 10 kilometres and 5 kilometres. The prizes go up to Rs 75,000 in various categories for open, defence and foreigners in different age groups. The organisers termed the marathon a “run for the nation” where the country comes together to celebrate the freedom, free will and the democratic principles of a great country.
“A nation so diverse, multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious, with a growth story for the world to emulate on the principles of ‘Sarva Dharma’ enshrined in our culture and Constitution. This inaugural run will be a memorable experience for a lifetime. You will be a proud finisher and achiever by being a part of this run,” reads the website of the marathon.
Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein said Tawang is set to witness an extraordinary event — the first ever mega marathon at an “astounding altitude” of 10,000 feet above sea level.
“This picturesque town is renowned for its natural beauty, serene monasteries and rich cultural heritage and it is home to the magnificent Tawang monastery, the largest in India,” he said.
Mein said the marathon promises to be an unforgettable experience, combining the thrill of a challenging race with the sheer beauty of the Himalayan landscape. “I welcome all the participants for a thrilling experience and wish them all the best,” he said.
Chief Minister Khandu, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and Gajraj Corps General Officer Commanding Lt Gen Manish will flag off the marathon from the Tawang Stadium.