We're off to Northeast India, to the 'Abode of the Clouds' and the 'Scotland of the East' for a running tour of Shillong and Meghalaya.
Our local guide is professional endurance runner, Darishisha Iangjuh.
Tell us a little about yourself and your relationship with running?
I'm Darishisha Iangjuh from Meghalaya and I am one of three sisters.
When we were children, we lost our parents and I had to move into a convent. As I was the eldest, I needed to take responsibility for my sisters so I had to drop out of formal education and work in people's homes.
Whilst I was staying and working in a relative's home, they introduced me to running so my first interest in the sport came from them. Running to me became a passion although I didn't train formally in the beginning. My relatives encouraged me to train properly and go out for longer distances. Then on July 17 2014 I competed for the first time. Since that day, running has been not only my passion but also my career, my opportunity to survive and a way to look after myself and my family.
Describe the running culture in Meghalaya?
The running culture here in Meghalaya is growing rapidly. People have taken to running seriously as a way to maintain or improve their health and fitness. We have a number of talented runners who are showing enormous potential and in one particular village in Mawkyrwat, the local runners are renowned for their incredible speed and endurance.
For many of us in the region, running has also become a vital source of income.
Where are the best places to run in Meghalaya?
I use both road and surrounding trails for my training. I prefer the trails because it's such a peaceful place to run and I can really immerse myself in the beautiful nature. I enjoy the undulating terrain and running the bridges over the streams.
I also train at Shillong Peak. This is the highest point in Shillong at 6,433 feet (1,961 metres). If I run the entire loop up and down, I can cover 21-30km.
Are you a member of a running club in Meghalaya?
Yes, I'm a member of the RUNMeghalaya Association. The organisation aspires to promote running to people from all walks of life.
RunMeghalaya was started in 2013 by Gerald Pde and his wife. As a long-time runner, Gerald recognised the ability of local runners and wanted to give them the opportunity to compete against other runners in India. He ran the Boston Marathon to raise funds to send talented local athletes to Delhi Marathon.
Since then, slowly everyone has come to learn about the marathon and ultra running scene and our membership has grown. RunMeghalaya is now self-funded by our runners. Athletes can receive funding to compete outside our state which really helps us grow our careers.
Because of RunMeghalaya I have become all that I am now.
Where is the best place to buy running gear in Meghalaya?
We have some shops where we can go to buy running gear but not really independents. There's a Nike showroom, Adidas, New Balance, Reebok, Puma... All these brands are available in Shillong.
What are the best local races in Meghalaya?
The Shillong 10km takes place right in the heart of the hill station city. This race was the first chip-timed event in Shillong. A road race that takes in all of Shillong's sights and with plenty of hills!
The Mawkyrwat Ultra is a 100km ultra marathon race where many visiting runners arrive in Meghalaya to take part. It's the only ultra in the region to award ITRA points. One of the unique elements of the race is that participants live with local families in a village on top of a hill in the Khasi Hills.
As well as taking in the beautiful surroundings, visiting competitors also get the opportunity to test themselves against the renowned local runners from the village.
Can you recommend a local dish/venue to eat after a long run or race in Meghalaya?
If you run on weekdays, we can find a small shop where we can take tea. On a Sunday there are very few shops open but if you are a South Indian food lover you can eat in Madrasa Cafe. If you are a sweet lover you should check out Delhi Mastan.
For those who want to try Naga food (spicy!), you should visit Naga Resturant. For local style, khasi food, you can visit any dukan sha (small tea shop). You can also find it in Eldorado Eatery in Dhankheti.
Thanks to Darishisha for a taking us for a run in Meghalaya!
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