India to host World’s highest Ultracycle race in Ladakh region.
Ultracycle races are not a hot cake to sell easily in Indian media market. They don’t get a due recognition from mass or govt., but are still excelling in Indian subcontinent; and a great many endurance talents have been unearthed in recent years. And one such ‘The Great Himalayan Ultra RAAM Qualifier’, starting 1st Sept of 2018, is going to give India a huge lime-light for hosting the inaugural edition of what would be the world’s highest Ultracycle race.
Leh in Ladakh region of India occupied Kashmir, with an altitude of 11,500 ft above sea level, will feel the heat of the best endurance cyclists from India and other nations as well. This event has already been approved by International endurance cycling governing bodies to be one of the regional qualifiers for RAAM (Race Across America). RAAM is one of the longest and toughest annual endurance events in the world, where the participant (solo or team) has to complete the 4,800 km distance in America within 10 straight days (time limit varies for different categories), in a no-stage (non-stop) manner. The Great Himalayan Ultra is a fresh addition to the already approved 6 RAAM qualifier races that takes place in India.
Roads connecting Ladakh with Manali and Srinagar are very well maintained, and passes through incredibly scenic routes. These routes attract thousands of tourists annually, and considered to be the major economy for the region. Ladhak is a high altitude desert, which almost shuts down for over 6 months of the year due to heavy snow fall and dangerous road/driving conditions over the valley. Not just that the starting point for this Ultracycle race is set at a monstrous height of 11500 ft, but the 630 km cycling route has an average elevation gain of 10350 ft, and the highest point during the course of journey is 4100 mts at Lamayuru. And this makes it unique, with a start point elevation higher than any point on any other Ultracycle Race in the world.
The Great Himalayan Ultra RAAM Qualifier has both Solo and Relay Team category Races. The racers will be supported by respective crew and vehicles in a time trial style ultra-race, similar to the International ones. The distance of 630 km has to be covered within a stipulated time limit of 40-50 hours (for solo men, women across age-groups), and 35-40 hours (for team events). Taking the severity of medical aspect into consideration, this being an extremely High Altitude Race, all racers will report in Leh between 8-10 days before race start (mandatory). This ensures that racers get the bare minimum acclimatization with the unusual conditions. Interestingly, many of the participants have already made a visit to the place to train and get a feel of what they have to go through. So, once they come back to their base with a proper knowledge of the conditions, they can spend next 2 months for preparations as per the specific needs.
The final participant list is not declared yet, but the unofficial information about the racers shows an interestingly talented line-up at the starting point. Stay tuned for more updates on World’s highest Ultracycle race, starting soon.