Come May, huff and puff down Darjeeling slopes with toy train

Come May 7 and you could be part of a record breaking attempt to run with the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) through meandering roads with the magnificent Kanchenjunga over the shoulder. To give the event -Fun Run with the DHR -a carnival-like feel, organizers have asked participants to turn up in costumes or traditional attire.

Organized by the proposed Darjeeling Rehabilitation Service Cooperative Society (DRSCS), a Darjeeling based social organization in collaboration with the DHR, the run will start from Ghoom, the highest railway station in the country at an altitude of 2,258m, and cover 7km to Darjeeling station. “The DHR is a heritage and at we organize such events to help preserve its status. With this event, we also want to promote local tourism,” said Suman Pradhan, station master of the Darjeeling railway station.

Participants over 16 will be eligible to to either run along or walk along with the steam engine. “The idea is not just to run and try to beat the train, but to participate to help contribute to preserving the heritage locomotive. As citizens, it is our responsibility . If the DHR is preserved then we will also benefit, as the local economy is dependent on it,” said Abdulla Azami, president of DRSCS.

“We want people to enjoy the event and have thus decided to give it a carnival flavour on the lines of the Rio Carnival and make it a calendar tourism event. The costumes can be anything from cartoon characters to our traditional dress. We want the event to be colourful, which in turn will attract more tourists, who can then join in.”

 The organizers have also invited officials from the Limca Book of Records to officiate on the event. “Going by our invitations, we are targeting over 2,000 participants. This will probably be the first-of-its-kind run in Asia, although such events may have been organized in European countries. Two officials from the Limca Book of Records will be in Darjeeling will be present at the event,” said Rigden Tamang, the DRSCS coordinator.
“We are in communication with UNESCO officials via email. We will get their confirmation only after April 20, but as of now, we have received a positive response,”he added.
Trophies will be awarded to participants who come first, second and third. The rest will be given certificates of participation signed by UNESCO, DHR and Limca Book of Records.

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