Hampi is an amazing place and running there is a dream come true for many. We had an amazing time organizing the JSW Go Heritage Run – Hampi on 25th January and it was fabulous to be supported by so many people and organizations. What made it all the more rewarding was to see so many young kids participate!
Here is a run report of all that went into the run.
The preparation for the run started a long time ago, with a test run in July 2014. We wanted to check the feasibility of the routes, and in fact the idea itself. 50 folks travelled from Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and participated in the run. We made several mistakes then, and we thank the runners for patiently sharing feedback with us and helping us improve. Here are a few pictures from the earlier run.
Besides testing the idea, at this run we were also able to find partners – Uramma Heritage Homes, Explore Hampi – who have been a constant and reliable support to us all through.
An important step now was to try encourage people to come attend the run. We focus on online outreach usually, mostly because it allows us to reach a large audience. Of course the drawback of this medium is that sometimes we get lost in the noise. Facebook and online forums were our primary channels.
Online outreach is great to connect with audiences in cities. However, we recognize that the local communities where we organize runs may not be as connected and on-ground promotion works best in reaching them. We also recognize the need to involve local communities in everything we do. Explore Hampi and Hospet Round Table, our local partners helped us with spreading the word about the run in Hampi and the nearest town of Hospet.
Our goal is not just to conduct a run but bring different aspects (related to heritage and otherwise) of the destination to light. To achieve this, we published several articles on our blog and highlighted Hampi and its delights. From the local cottage industry using banana fiber, to shopping advice, to activities one could take part in Hampi, our blog covered it all.
In the meantime, we visited the Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra and engaged the local Lambani (a tribe) women to create hand embroidered finisher medals for the run. Our goal was not just to highlighted a local craft, but generate an economic incentive to encourage it. The design of the medal (and the run t-shirt) incorporated motifs taking inspiration from the carvings and inscriptions depicted on the walls of the ancient Hampi temples, especially in the Hazara Rama Temple complex. Further, the flow of triangles in the t-shirt design represent motion. The colour palette represents energy and power, illustrating different hues that constitute Hampi.
Our events attempt to show that heritage can offer a compelling economic incentive to local population. Primarily through tourism but also through our own spending. We use local talent and also buy locally for the most part. Hopefully, in the years to come, our runs will be eagerly awaited for – both by visitors and the locals.
Apart from the run t-shirt, we tried to make the run kit a little more fun. As the run route meanders past several monuments spread across, we included an information book in the kit which had the route map. The fun bit was that these maps served a dual purpose – the participant could cut it to use it as a visual guide of the route and later send it to their loved ones as a post card!
In addition, we also included a Go Heritage Run Passport – a way for our runners to keep track of the runs they participated in. All finishers will be issued with a stamp of arrival which they can add to their passport.
We see several of our participants come back to our runs and we would like to reward them for this too, any runner with four stamps can run their 5th Go Heritage Run for free!
The 21k run was scheduled to start at 5.45am, but had to be delayed as it was still too dark – where is the fun if you can’t see the sights in such a beautiful place? The reports of leopard sightings had us erring on the side of caution too. While the runners waited for the run to start, they were treated to a performance of Dollu Kunitha by local performers. This was followed by an energetic warm up and a dawn start. We followed a similar schedule for each of the run starts. The 5k run saw the largest participation with nearly 150 folks including kids, families and students participating. The 21k route was mostly road, with a brief trail section at the half way mark. The 11k route had almost equal parts of road and trail sections while the 5k run route was entirely trail. Here are a few glimpses of the entire proceedings.
We have been careful to keep the run’s footprint minimal so that the beauty of the heritage site and its landscape was not marred in any way. This reflected in many of the choices we made – using a basic bamboo frame for the start arch, reusable design for signage, using bamboo sticks to support the direction and landmark signage instead of gluing it to metal frames, using arecanut leaf plates instead of plastic, using paper cups for water and cardboard cartons for collecting trash. This may mean higher costs and less glitz than in other events but we are confident that our efforts will make for a sustainable event where the main goal of making heritage more accessible is met.
As we mentioned earlier, we try to highlight all aspects of a heritage site through our runs. Hampi, is a world-famous destination for bouldering. Along with the run, we worked with our partner Adivaas in organizing a beginner bouldering session and a yoga session as well.
An endeavour’s success depends on the efforts put in by the people, some visible and some working behind the scenes. We are lucky to have a great set of volunteers working with us and helping us create experiences for you. Here are some of them. Missing here are Balaji and Ashwin.