Darjeeling welcomes to run with famed toy train

10 Apr 2017

Come May 7 and you could be a part of a record breaking attempt to run with the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, from the highest railway station the country through meandering roads with the magnificent Kanchenjunga over the shoulder.
Besides that, to bring a carnival feel, the organisers have decided to ask participants to run in colourful costumes or in their traditional attire.
The event has been christened 'Fun Run with the DHR' and is being organised by the Darjeeling Rehabilitation Service Cooperative Society (DRSCS), a Darjeeling based social organisation, in collaboration with the DHR.
“The DHR is a heritage and we are doing events and programmes on various occasions to help preserve that status. Therefore, we have given the tag fun-run with the heritage train. With this event we also want to promote local tourism,” said Suman Pradhan, station master of Darjeeling railway station.
The DHR was conferred with the heritage status by the UNESCO in 1999. The fun run will cover a distance of 7km from Ghoom, the highest railway station in the country at an altitude of 2,258 metres, up to Darjeeling railway station.
Participants at the event should be above 16 years of age and they can either run along or walk with the steam engine-pulled train.
"The idea is not just to run and try to beat the DHR but to help contribute in preserving the heritage train, which is our asset. As citizens it is also our responsibility. If the DHR is preserved then we will also benefit, as the local economy and other stakeholders are dependent on it,” said Abdulla Azami, president of the DRSCS.
On the objective behind asking people to turn up wearing costumes or traditional dresses, Azami, said, “We generally want people to enjoy the event. We want to give it a carnival flavour on the lines of the Rio Carnival and make it into a calendar tourism event. The costumes can be anything from cartoon characters like Superman, Mickey Mouse and Bheem or one can participate wearing their traditional dress. We want the event to be colourful overall to attract more tourists, who can also participate if they wish to."
The organisers have also invited officials from the Limca Record Book to officiate at the event. “We are targeting over 2,000 participants as per our invitations. Probably, the run will be the first of its kind in Asia although such runs may have been organised in European countries. Two officials from Limca will be in Darjeeling to measure the record breaking feat,” said Rigden Tamang, the DRSCS coordinator.
On the UNESCO’s role in the event, Tamag said, “We are in communication with UNESCO officials through email. We will get their confirmation only after April 20 but as of now we have been given a positive response."
Trophies will be presented to participants coming first, second and third while the rest will be handed out certificates of participation signed by the UNESCO, DHR and Limca. (EOIC)