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13 Jan 2017

21KM UP HILLS AT CHILLY 3°C- Snapshots from the Amway Darjeeling Police Marathon 2017, organised in association with The Telegraph, on Thursday

Anish Thapa (centre) from Nepal receives the first prize in the men’s category of the half marathon from Olympian Shiny Wilson (left) in Darjeeling on Thursday
Vivek Chhetri, TT, 12 January: Nepal stole the show at Amway Darjeeling Police Marathon 2017 on Thursday with runners from the Himalayan country bagging the top three positions in the men’s category and coming first in the women’s category.
The 21km half marathon — though the event is called a marathon — was organised by Darjeeling police in association with The Telegraph from Sukhiapokhri to Chowrasta in Darjeeling. 
One of India’s best known athletes, Shiny Wilson who had led the Indian contingent in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, braved freezing cold to flag off the run at 8am. 
Nearly 1,000 runners from across India competed with athletes from as far as the US, Spain, Kenya and Ethiopia, providing the event with a truly international feel.
Kanchi Maya Koju, an Olympian from Nepal, finishes first among  women
Anish Thapa, 27, clocked one hour 11 minutes five seconds to bag the top slot in the men’s category. Home Lal Shrestha and Tirtha Pun were the first and second runners up, respectively. 
All the three are from Nepal. Both Thapa and Pun are posted as soldiers at the Gorkha Training Centre in Shillong. “I had taken part in the Darjeeling marathon in 2015. Then, I had trained for one moth. I am happy that I won the run today,” said Thapa. 
In the women’s category, Kanchi Maya Koju, one of Nepal’s best women runners and who had represented the country in the 2014 Athens Olympics, won gold, finishing in one hour 25 minutes and 52 seconds. Jhuma Khatun from Salt Lake, Calcutta, and Pratima Tudu from Hooghly came second and third, respectively.
Koju said: “I came to know about the event from my acquaintance, Siddhart Lama in Darjeeling, through Facebook. It was an amazing run and I enjoyed every moment.”
Darjeeling resident Kam Bahadur Tamang, 68, the oldest participant
For runners like Khatun, the cold morning temperature that hovered around 3 degrees Celsius was a big hurdle and so was the terrain. 
“I usually practise in the plains and the terrain here was a bit difficult. But the cold was the biggest obstacle,” said Khatun.
It was not just the India athletes who found the cold not to their liking.

Mengist, a runner from Ethiopia who was placed 9th in the men’s category, said: “I would have performed much better but for the cold. 
The route, however, was not much of a problem.” 
Mengist came to know about the event from his friends who had participated in the event last year.
For all those who faced problems because of unfamiliar terrain, Wilson was an inspiration.
“I married soon after the 1988 Olympics and in 1990, I became a mother. Then, I felt I needed to show to the Indian women what we could do. 
Girls perform at the concluding event of the half marathon at Chowrasta in Darjeeling. 
Pictures by Mohan Lama
I started training within three months into motherhood and managed to become a national champion nine months after delivery and an Asian champion within one year of being a mother,” said Wilson who urged youths to take up the sport seriously.
“I was in the ninth standard when I represented India at the world junior championship along with PT Usha and our team manager was Milkha Singh,” said Wilson. 
Apart from Wilson, Darjeeling also found inspiration from many participants. Kam Bahadur Tamang from Darjeeling, aged 68, was the oldest participant who completed the run. “I ran to tell the youngsters that they should also engage in sporting activities whose benefits are known to all,” he said. 

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