Go Heritage Run’s Ooty run vacation is quickly turning into one of the more popular runs on the Go Heritage Run calendar – and it’s easy to see why. Lovedale, nestled in the Nilgiris, offers an opportunity to escape from the bustle and the heat of the city – with run routes traversing the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a meadow and a lakebed, eucalyptus-scented forests, and hills with scenic overlooks. To top it all, there was food and accommodation at one of India’s top boarding schools for runners who signed up early on! This Ooty run report describes what went into organizing the run.
PLANNING AND PROMOTION:
We announced Go Heritage Run – Ooty in March – so runners and their families had enough lead time to plan out their summer vacations. A common suggestion from runners who signed up early on was to add a 21K route option. However, we quickly decided against that once we realized the elevation changes on this route would be quite daunting – and potentially take the fun out of the fun run!
In late April, mobiefit Run, a training app for first-time runners, joined us as our registration partner. They offered a free training package for runners who signed up for Go Heritage Run – Ooty using their package. Incidentally, Gul Panag, former Miss India and co-founder at mobiefit, is an alumnus of the Lawrence School and she made a video describing the cross country trail within the Lawrence School that forms part of the Go Heritage Run route.
Influenced by the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and its verdant surroundings, our design team incorporated runners making their way along a railway line and the silhouette of a steam engine into all our run collateral – The T-shirt, Posters, running bibs, certificates and even the finisher medal which was intricately laser cut in wood and made for a wonderful souvenir.
Close to a thousand participants ran across the 5K, 10K and 15K at Go Heritage Run Ooty last Sunday. For many of them, this was their first ever run, their first time in Ooty, their first time at a Go Heritage Run, or maybe just their first time running with their families – And boy was it special!
While there were no lead cars pacing the faster runners – the Lawrence School had arranged for something much better – horses and riders leading the way! The horses led the runners along at a steady clip – leading them along the cross country trail within the Lawrence School and then out and back along the Nilgiri Mountain Railway Line.
One of the highlights of the run route in Ooty is a section of the cross country trail within the Lawrence School called Grass Pitch – which is both a meadow and a lakebed. Runners make their way downhill through a series of tree-lined curves and switchbacks on the trail and are then, without warning, presented with quite the sensory assault – the heady aroma of eucalyptus and a clearing leading to a green meadow stretching as far as the eye can see. Our volunteers at the aid station located at this point were witness to the steady stream of exclamations as runner after runner approached the clearing and stepped into the meadow.
At the Finish Line, runners were welcomed with their finisher medal and a performance by Toda tribal dancers. A contingent of runners from the Chennai Trekking Club also organized a flash mob to create awareness about waste segregation and zero plastic use.
Our sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone at the Lawrence School, Lovedale, the Make Ooty Beautiful project, and the Nilgiris Chapter of INTACH – all of whom helped make this run a huge success!
TIPS FOR GO HERITAGE RUN OOTY – 2017:
For the benefit of anyone planning to join us in Ooty in 2017, here are some helpful tips:
– Accommodation at the Lawrence School is limited so sign up for that early if you’d like to stay in the school.
– Hotel Accommodation is always in short supply in peak tourist season so make accommodation arrangements at least a few weeks in advance.
– Bring your own disposable bottle to reduce our combined environmental footprint.
PS: Since a video speaks a couple of thousand words here’s another behind-the-scenes perspective put together by our able volunteer and event MC, Preeti.