World Heritage Week (November 19 to 25) Metroplus

History explored through runs

GoHeritage run participants in Hampi  

The GoHeritage runs began as an offshoot of the GoUnesco group that challenged people to visit the maximum number of Unesco certified heritage sites in the country in a calendar year.

In 2014, Ajay M Reddy and team conducted test runs in Hampi and Bidar before chalking out six heritage runs for 2015. “The idea is to promote heritage runs where runners can participate with their families. These are not races but fun runs where everyone can walk or run through the trail, taking in views of historical sites,” he explains.

Ajay spoke to us before leaving to Bidar, where the team is hosting a heritage run on November 22. This year, GoHeritage organised runs in Hampi, Warangal, Badami, Ooty and Udaipur. Ajay hopes to include new destinations in 2016.

It’s been a mixed bag so far, he says. “The first run was a challenge. We mooted the idea to the local tourism department and they were welcoming. When we run in a city, we try not to be a nuisance to the locals. We work with a local group to make things easier. A few runners from Hyderabad Runners volunteer and help us in organising things,” he says.

Most runs so far have attracted an average of 300 to 400 runners, barring the summer run in Ooty that drew 500 participants. From children aged three to five to elders above 80, age hasn’t been a barrier. “This is more of a run vacation, promoting a holistic experience of looking at heritage,” beams Ajay.

(For more information and to participate in heritage runs, check www.goheritagerun.com)

Rajesh Vetcha, founder, Hyderabad Runners, shares his experience of heritage marathons

On November 15, Rajesh Vetcha was in Cochin to run a marathon. As the founder and member of Hyderabad Runners group, he’s run in many cities but says the Cochin experience is special.

This was the second edition of Spice Coast Marathon and the 42.2-kilometre route was dotted with historic landmarks. “The route took us through the Muziris area; we saw Jewish synagogues, churches, Chinese fishing nets, pepper street, Fort Kochi and other areas,” says Rajesh.

He was stuck by the cleanliness in these areas and the well-maintained heritage structures. He compares this with heritage runs organised in cities like Delhi and Hyderabad and cites the bottlenecks that arise due to encroachments in the older parts of these cities and the practical difficulties in making roads available for runners for a few hours.

“One cannot imagine the repercussion of cordoning area around Qutb Minar behind cordoned off for vehicles to allow runners for a few hours. For a heritage run to thrive, people have to be made stake holders and realise the tourism benefits that this might create,” he says, drawing an analogy with heritage runs being conducted internationally. Rajesh, along with a few members of Hyderabad Runners, has participated in marathons in Athens (in 2010), Prague (2011) and Istanbul (2013).

“In Istanbul, the marathon gives runners a good view of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia among other heritage sites. The Bosphorus bridge, an arterial road, is closed for vehicles during the marathon,” says Rajesh.

The Prague Marathon takes runners through the Old Town Square, across the historical Charles Bridge, covering several areas in Old and New town around the river Vlatava.

The team usually lands a few days prior to the marathon day to acclimatise themselves with the city, terrain and weather conditions. “There is a huge difference between seeing monuments while driving through and exploring the route on foot,” Rajesh sums up.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 3:29:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/history-explored-through-runs/article7891621.ece

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