In the deep interiors of the South West Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya is to be held the second edition of their annual marathon, the Mawkyrwat Ultra. Mawkyrwat, a primarily farming region growing mostly rice and potatoes on a difficult terrain has conditioned a breed of high endurance long-distance runners. The runners from Mawkyrwat have secured top positions representing Meghalaya at various State-meets or at national big-city marathons. The most successful being Binningstar Lyngkhoi, a marathoner who has been representing India for more than a decade with his best performance clocking 2:17. The people of Mawkrywat have embraced running as a part of life.
The event is organized by RUNMeghalaya Association and this year is also certified by the International Trail Running Association (ITRA), the body governing international trail races and is declared an Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc (UTMB) qualifying race. The 72km run is to be an ITRA Level 1 race and 45km run is an ITRA Level 2 race. Also, anyone who aspires to run in the prestigious UTMB races can earn points through this marathon. Also this year the world-renowned ultra marathoner from the United Kingdom, Dan Lawson will be a guest and participate in the 72km event. Lawson is highly respected in the world of trail and ultra-running and has won many races worldwide and is part of the Great Britain national team.
The marathon is a great opportunity to explore and experience the area. Accommodation will be arranged to live with the local hosts and food will be provided from a community kitchen. Also, the 72km looped course takes runners to various villages, such as Mawranglang, Mawlangwir, Mawthong, Mawthawpdah and ends back at Shngimawlein. The routes are very scenic, passing through villages, paddy fields, the Rilang Valley, forest trails and around 70% of the route is on trails.
This also benefits the local economy as the fees directly go o the participating hosts. In addition to volunteers/event staff from each village, all 30 aid stations along the way are provided by small tea shops and this way the whole region is associated with the event.
Another intriguing part of the marathon is that the medals provided are not just any medals but a signature souvenir of the place. The making of a traditional Khasi lock is a dying art. With the upsurge of cheap machine-made locks, the hand-made traditional locks are losing the market. Thus the organizers have announced that this year the marathon medals will be traditional Khasi locks. Each lock is crafted from recycled metal sheets, umbrella struts, iron rods, which are folded and shaped into their respective sizes. What is unique about this dying craft is that it originated here in Meghalaya and the remaining locksmiths who will be making the finisher medals hail from Laitlyngkot a village on the Shillong – Pynursla highway. This craft has been around from more than 100 years and has evolved over time with the advent of new tools and designs. Today there are only three families in Laitlyngkot who make these traditional handmade locks.
The registration fees include travel from Shillong to Mawkyrwat and back, accommodation, food, on route hydration and race fueling that includes locally organically grown potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice water with honey, bananas, juice, baggage, mid-race kit drop off, medical support, Event T-Shirt, Event Finishers’ Momento. All you got to do is reach Shillong on the 26th of October. So if running is your thing and Meghalaya on your to go list, this is your golden opportunity. Happy running!