As a marathon runner, I try to run in as many cities or countries as I can. “Runcations” have been a huge part of my life – planning vacations around running events, and taking non-runner family and friends along too. When I started running, it was a great way to explore my home city and it turns out running is a great way to explore other cities and nations as well. Plus, official races purposely have their race routes set through landmarks of their cities, so out-of-towners can combine sight-seeing with racing. However, running in places of heritage was a completely unique experience.
Read what happens when sports and heritage combine.
A few months ago, I had participated in the Go Heritage Run – Ooty – a running race set in the Nilgiri Mountain Ranges of South India. The venue for the run was the Lawrence School in Lovedale – founded by Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence in 1858. The campus of 750 acres is located at a height of 7200 feet above sea level, slightly lower than the Dodabetta peak (the highest peak of the Nilgiris at 8650 feet). This is where we had to run – on a hill station located on a mountain range, through forests and meadows, and heritage buildings, and chilly weather – a place seeped in history and geography, testing one’s strength and endurance. If this was not enough to add to the “runner’s high”, the finisher medals we received were handmade by the indigenous Todas. The race organizers had tied up with NGOs working with the local community to make these “souvenir medals” for all race participants – giving the runners something to cherish back home, and also providing a source of livelihood to the local tribes.
The medal presented at Orchha (Madhya Pradesh) was a traditional painting of Bundelkhand called lipna. The canvas is first covered with a mixture of papier mache, black lentils, fenugreek and gum, dried to make a textured background. Red clay or geori is used to paint the border and the silhouette of the subject. This is dried. Then, the design is refined by hand scraping the geori off with a pointed instrument so that the background shows through. The eldest of five girls from a potter’s family in Orchha had made these medals for the Go Heritage Run – Orchha.
*Additional information about races and souvenir medals was sourced from www.goheritagerun.com – the organizer of these events.