India successfully hosted a 2nd National AR Championship in Goa. The race was themed as “Goa Beyond Beaches” and explored a destination which is famous for its beaches and as an exclusive water sports adventure destination.
Adventure Racing in India is growing rapidly with many new teams and budding adventure racers joining the sport. Races hosted by NthAdventure are a great platform for novice and elite teams to experience the beauty of the World’s Toughest Sport in the diverse terrain and cultures of their home country.
This year’s championship had 2 categories, a 60km short-course and 130km full-course; consisting of Trail Running, Hiking, MTB, Kayaking, Hike-A-bike, Orienteering and local cultural surprise activities. Goa has its own beauty and the course passed through some of the accessible forest areas, majestic mountains, streams, single track roads, grasslands, paddy fields, jeep trails and tarmac roads. And the rain added more fun to the already beautiful landscapes.
The Opening Ceremony
The admin day included registrations and an opening ceremony, which was held at the National Institute of Watersports – Dona Paula, Goa. This was established in 1990 as a resource to increase the professionalism of leisure watersports in the country. The race opened on Friday with Kayaking Safety and Rescue Mock Drill by NIWS, followed by race admin, a photo shoot and mandatory equipment check. The captains meeting was powered by Adventure Worx, the NthAdventure “Adventure Gear Partner” and included some incredible discussion and insights from them.
At the official opening ceremony the AR Championship India 2023 was inaugurated by Mr. Rohan Kahunte, Minister of Tourism for Goa and graced by Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mr. Aniket Gaonkar. Also attending were officials and board members from the Goa Tourism Board and officials from NIWS; Dr. Ravinder Dogra and Mr. Ranjeet Singh. All of the participants, media, crew & volunteers were present and Mrs. Heidi Muller, CEO of the Adventure Racing World Series, sent a special video message in support of the race.
It was an early start for ARC India 2023. At 3:30am teams reported at the NIWS HQ and loaded their cycles onto trucks and transition bags into respective vehicles before they began their 2 hour journey to the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary area for the race start. After a final briefing, emergency mobile phones were locked down, then refreshments and the maps for the first 2 legs were handed over.
The race began with trail running into the forest trails followed by a hike to reach a village where teams transitioned from 9km foot leg to mountain biking. The MTB Leg was on rolling roads, taking teams through some breathtaking views of the sanctuary. The entire section was rocky with some bone crunching climbs to reach CP 3. Next up was a 4km trail used by villagers as a shortcut to reach the base. This trail was named as “Savage Leg” where literally teams had to push, pull, pedal or hike-a-bike to come down from the valley. Teams had their own navigation challenges amidst the greenest part of goa and at one point all the teams where together, assisting and supporting each other. This section took longer than expected but what adventure racing is always unpredictable!
NthAdventure always aims to involve local communities, incorporating tradition and cultural activities as part of the racing experience. Goa was special in its own ways. Certain trails of the course were in leech territory and locals have their own solutions to leeches. Locally procured “Leech Repellent”, made by a couple of families from the nearby hamlets, was handed over to each team.
300+ notebooks and sports goods were also donated at the Netravali and Cotigao Gram Panchayat. At TA2 teams were involved in a traditional stone hand grinding activity used to grind wheat and rice in olden days. The race procured 20Kgs of raw rice to be hand ground by each team, using the traditional equipment provided, and this was handed back to the village.
The race also purchased the local tradition dish “Patoli” made up of rice flour and jaggery by the self-help women’s group. Team Wild from UAE also bought 200+ Tennis balls, footballs, stationery all the way from Dubai to be given back to the community. All these contributions were handed over in the presence of the Sarpanch of each village.
Triumph – The Finish
Every team is a winner, going through immense physical and mental challenges in the process of continuously pushing themselves towards the finish line. The 24-hour races are aimed at preparing teams for international and expedition style races (500+KM). All of the teams showed grit and great teamwork, and each of the athletes made sure the success rate of the full-course teams was at 99%.
Team Shershah took home the title of AR Champions of 2023 by winning in 14 hours 5 minutes. An experienced team who has been training hard for this, they took the title of the AR Champions of India and they also qualified for the ARWS Asia Regional Championship 2023 scheduled for November 2023 in Philippines.
Shershah 2.0, a mix of sprint race athletes led by an experienced captain, gave their team a second placed finish in 14 hours 5 minutes and in third were Team Stairs, the winners of the Namma AR 2022. They are a team of physiotherapist and Ironman athletes and took the final podium place by completing the course in 14 hours 15 minutes.
Skyrunners the winners of the AR Championship India 2022 and the team of ultra runners finished in 4th place this time. Team WILD from UAE were the first international team in the race and put up a tough fight while experiencing the Indian forest and battling the rugged terrain and the weather, to finish at 5th place. They thoroughly enjoyed their first adventure race in India.
It was 4 am, in the early hours of next day that the last team crossed the finish line, happy and content.
Goa Beyond Beaches
Every state is unique and this gives the Race Directors the opportunity to curate different courses for every race. It takes a massive effort to organize a race where multiple disciplines and multiple departments are involved. “We worked with many authorities to create this year’s championship and thank all of the departments for their support and the Department of Goa Tourism for welcoming Adventure Racing. I am sure now everyone experienced Goa like never before,” said Ajita Madan, Race Director, NthAdventure.
Gateway to ARWS Asia Regional Championship
ARC India is an annual event produced and owned by NthAdventure. ARCI is also the qualifier for the ARWS Asia Regional Championship, giving Indian athletes an opportunity to compete internationally and to understand the magnitude and challenges of adventure racing. From endurance training to planning logistics, everything is a rich learning experience and an exercise in team work.
NthAdventure is a Bangalore based Adventure and Outdoor sports company and is the only licensed organization in India to host Adventure Racing from the Adventure Racing World Series. NthAdventure’s prime focus is to grow and build the Adventure Racing and Orienteering communities in India.
Both of the Race Directors have been part of multiple Expedition Races and have been making continuous efforts to grow the sport in their country. Throughout the year they conduct navigation workshops, smaller versions of orienteering runs on trails, bikes, kayaks and in urban settings, and adventure racing workshops open to the public and universities. They stage sprint races of 30km to 60km as part of the National AR Series and ARWS Asia Regional Races to help Indian teams prepare for global competitions. They are creating platforms where everyone can experience this sport.
For more information about NthAdventure and upcoming races visit: https://www.nthadventure.com/
Race Partners: • Adventure Racing World Series • Department of Tourism – Goa • National Institute of water Sports - Goa • Department of Forest – Goa • Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management • Adventure Worx • The Bridge • Goa Brewing Company