Tawang, a beautiful town located just about 25km away from India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh, hosted the first of its kind high-altitude marathon on 1st October, 2023. The marathon took place in the picturesque town which is about 10,000 ft above mean sea level and surrounded by the lofty Himalayas. The event was jointly organised by the Indian Army and the State Government. The unique topography of the town offered the participants a noble opportunity to experience a demanding high-altitude run in the country.
Chief minister Khandu had formally announced the Marathon in June this year and underscored his endorsement and commitment by being the first participant to register. The event aimed to set Tawang as a popular destination for adventure sports and marathons, thereby turning the inherent tourism potentials into a substantial reality.
The event saw a huge turnout from about 2,500 registrations. Along with marathon enthusiasts from across the country, the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, and major Central Armed Police Forces fielded formidable teams. Out of the 858 participants from the Armed Forces, a whopping 803 were from the Indian Army.
According to the organisers, about 452 participants were from outside the state. The Marathon featured multiple categories ranging from 5km and 7km races to half (21.0975 km) and full (42.195km) marathons. These ranges ensured the participation of runners with varying skills, stamina and fitness to be a part of the historic event.
CM Pema Khandu along with Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, Arunachal Pradesh Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Mama Nathung and top oﬃcials of the army were present at the Tawang Stadium, which served as both the start and finish lines.
Arjun Pradhan from the Indian Army emerged as the champion of the 2023 Tawang Marathon in the men’s category, clocking an impressive time of 2 hours, 49 minutes, and 03 seconds for the 42-kilometer race.
Tlanding Wahlang, representing Meghalaya, secured the second position with a finishing time of 3 hours, 2 minutes, and 7 seconds, while Army soldier Avanish Rawat claimed the third spot by completing the marathon in 3 hours, 8 minutes, and 59 seconds.
The event marks a milestone, for it was the first time that the region hosted a marathon with a turnout of such magnitude. The day marked with low temperature and engulfed in thick fog did not deter the participants, visitors and locals from showing up in large numbers.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “The Indian Army and the Arunachal Govt have collaborated very well. I am delighted to see so many participants coming to Tawang to participate in the Tawang Marathon. Everybody should participate in these kinds of marathon events,”. Expressing his satisfaction and acknowledging the success of the event Khandu tweeted from his oﬃcial handle, “From next year, the Marathon will go global. Cheering crowd and determined participants at Tsangyang Gyatson High Altitude stadium have left little scope for any doubt”.