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‘Living Roots Eco challenge tests participants’ grit, character’

SHILLONG: Over 550 participants trekked through the rough terrain on the Nongblai-Wahlyngkhat-Rngian route, with Emphius Nongrum taking the first prize achieving a timing of 1 hr 20 minutes in the men’s category and Enifer Nongkynrih finished first with a timing of 2 hrs 38 minutes in the women’s category of the Living Roots Eco Challenge, held on Saturday.
Special prizes were given to the youngest participants – Hope Isabel Syiem and Renee Crisstel Nongrum – both 8 years of age while the prize for the oldest participant was bagged by 65 year old D. Nongrum. There were prizes for different age categories. Interestingly, of the 550 participants who took the challenge, several could not finish the trail and had to return to the starting point up on the hills.
“The Living Roots Eco Challenge was not only about a race, a competition, the living root bridges or eco tourism, but interestingly it became the story of some 600 odd individuals who took the challenge knowingly and unknowingly. It was a human story that evolved throughout the day and the characters were the participants who gave their all to finish the journey,” said Ian Khongmen.
Hollywood actor Serena Scott Thomas spoke of her experience in the Eco Challenge and said it was a tough challenge.
Echoing her, Vinnie Tortorich, Hollywood celebrity fitness trainer, said, “This is an ultra challenge and it’s really tough although I have done the 21 miles trek to Mt. Whitney but that’s nothing compared to this.”Khongmen maintained that the eco challenge is comparable to the ups and downs in life’s journey. “Taking the analogy of the innovative living root bridges where man’s ingenuity conquered the natural barriers, we can say that the Eco Challenge is but another test of physical and mental strength that had to be conquered,” he said.
With the success of the first ever Eco Challenge the organizers are looking forward to making it an annual feature and roping in more national and international athletes for the next episode of the event.

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