The team that created India’s best known RAAM Qualifier, The Deccan Cliffhanger, and The 1750 km long Ultra Spice Race, is now giving the world a chance to race on the roof of the world. The Great Himalayan Ultra Race is the World’s highest Ultracycle race, that starts and finishes in Leh, Ladakh, called the land of high passes. At an elevation of 3500Mts, the start itself is higher than the max elevation of any of the RAAM Qualifying Ultracycling Races in the World.
It is a 600km road race, comprising solo and relay team categories, all racers in all categories must have a support vehicle and crew.
- Location – Leh, Ladakh
- Distance – 630 km Race & 444 Tour
- Start Date – 1st Sept 2018
- Elevation Gain – 10347 Mts
- Start Elevation – 3500 Mt above sea level
- Route – Leh-Thiksey-Kargil-Dras-Leh
The Race route follows NH1 through spectacular Himalayan mountain landscapes of Ladakh and Kargil regions, in Jammu and Kashmir. Starting from Leh the race route goes south for a small taste of green ladakhi valleys along the brilliant turquoise of the Indus (Sindhu) river, before turning around to go past Leh on the highway to Srinagar. The route follows high plateaus along the Indus past the point where the Zanskar joins in and changes the color of the Indus at a dramatic sangam that is clearly visible from the route. Continuing through valleys and over mountains the route heads away from the Indus to climb past Lamayuru monastery to the highest point on the race at Fotu la, through the world’s most dramatic landscapes.
Descending from there to Kargil the lowest point, the race follows the Suru river through green valleys, to Drass the second coldest inhabited place on earth. This is truly a race of superlatives! Heading back from there the racers will now face the longest ascent climbing from the lowest point on the race 2600Mts at Kargil to Fotu La top at 4100Mts.
With the support of Wasim Bari and Greeshma Soley the route was finalized in June and received approval from (RAAM) Race Across America’s president Fred Boethling as a RAAM Qualifier. Along with Race Director Divya Tate a Route Recce was conducted, with RAAM solo finisher Amit Samarth who rode over 500 km of the race distance and gave valuable insights and feedback on the route that will help future participants to ride safely and successfully. The scale is so incredible that on one occasion on the way to Fotu La he exclaimed “Baap re, ye khatam hi Nahi hota!” This from a Racer who trained in the Rockies and finished RAAM solo on his first attempt. After he returned from the recce he said, “This race was a great training for me for the Trans Siberia race in August. More than physical, it was a mental training to face these mountains. These mountains nearly killed me… but now I am more alive than ever!
This year the first edition is about to be flagged off from the Leh entry gate on 1st sept. 4 of India’s most elite racers will attempt to meet the challenge of racing the mighty Himalayan mountains!
We have an elite Ultra Cyclist from Bombay, Kabir Rachure, who has won second place in Deccan Cliffhanger 5th Edition, and second place in The Ultra Spice 1750 km. He is registered to race RAAM 5000 km in the USA at Race Across America in 2019. He is already in Leh, acclimatizing to the high altitude. He is mesmerized by the terrain and the beauty of the region saying “I have raced Deccan Cliffhanger and Ultra Spice which has one of the most beautiful routes in the south of India, but this one seems to be at a different league altogether. I am really happy that Inspire India is creating such tough and amazing races in India. It is giving me a great training in my preparation for Race Across America.
Another esteemed participant is an Everest Summiteer Vishal Ahlawat from the armed forces, who has a national record of doing Leh to Kanyakumari in 2007. He has also a record of 50 half marathons in 50 days in 2018. Currently on the 25000Km Jai Bharat Ultracycling expedition as a part of the Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) Platinum Jubilee celebration.
Sumit Patil who has been Ultra Cycling in India since 2011, qualifying for RAAM twice and having attempted it in 2014 will also be racing. Based in this region during the summer he will have the advantage of familiarity with this route and terrain.
We are happy to have Amit Samarth, who has just successfully finished the Trans Siberian Extreme race solo, 9100 km in 25 days to become the first Asian to finish this race! He is also only the second person in the world to have finished two of the world’s toughest ultra races, both Race Across America and Trans Siberian. He said that such a spectacular landscape as one sees in the Himalayas can’t be seen anywhere else! He is truly smitten by these mountains.
Read More: 5 Incredible Cycling Trips in India
On being asked why she created this race, Divya Tate said, “India has a rich and diverse landscape, and the Himalayas are unbeatable in scale and beauty, especially in Ladakh. We want to create events that will grow into truly international races, showcase the magnificence of our natural and cultural wealth. An extreme race of this kind will certainly attract Ultra racers from all around the world to experience the grandeur of the Himalayas and enhance interactions with the wonderful people of this region.
Partners of The Great Himalayan Ultra
Wasim Bari who runs a destination management and adventure tourism company, Chasing Himalayas is happy to be Inspire India’s associates in putting up this race. He said ‘this race will provide local people a platform to perform against international elite athletes. Local athletes have been performing very well in other ultra events in Leh and very soon, with the exposure to this ultrarace, we will have Ladakhi people on this podium and inspired to race around the world!
Greeshma Soley an adventure specialist from Sangli, who has been a part of Inspire India’s core team since Deccan Cliffhanger 2014 is providing hospitality to the race at her newly opened Backpacker’s hostel Rover’s Den. Interacting with racer’s and crew from around the country at these Ultraraces, she is pleased to share the beauty of this region with them.
Vicki Niaz well known as Ladakh’s Oxygen man is pleased to provide racers and officials with Ladakh Oxygen Plant cylinders! An entrepreneur and philanthropist he is supporting the race with the intention of ensuring that responsible tourism grows in Ladakh.
Zubir Ahmad, the founder of Ladakh Organic Farmers Foundation is generously providing race participants and officials with a taste of great natural products including Seabuckthorn juice, popularly known as Leh berry juice! With a vision of Organic Ladakh, he has been working to create a sustainable, environmentally and culturally friendly development platform for the local farming community. Race director Divya Tate who has a deep interest in Organic farming for over 2 decades, is particularly thrilled to have an association with an organization that is working at grassroots in Ladakh.
Sanjay Rana of Triumph sportswear is very pleased to see how much this activity has grown in India. Recognizing the need, Triumph is continually doing research and development to create high-performance sportswear for Indian athletes, made in India.
- This is a High Altitude mountainous race, as most of the race route remains above 3000Mts, only briefly descending below that altitude. All participants are expected to follow a proper acclimatization schedule.
- A total elevation gain of 10350Mts in 630 km makes it a tough challenge.
- The climate is extreme, with temperatures reaching both extremes between day and night, in addition to the UV ray exposure making it even more challenging.
- Wind is another factor with a strong headwind getting channeled through the mountain ranges on the way to Drass.
- The remote and barren landscape indicates that availability of everything from fuel to food is very limited.
- The Race is an expensive race for Participants as travel to Leh with the crew, especially since mandatory acclimatization is essential requiring racers and crew to spend a lot of time pre-race in Ladakh.