Along winding roads that traverse what seem like infinite hills populated by thick dense forest the landscape slowly changes to one of undulating fields of rice pockmarked by giant boulders. Deep in the interiors of the South West Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya lies the region of Mawkyrwat. Primarily a farming community growing mostly rice and potatoes on a difficult terrain, life for most is about feeding their usually large families barely left with other resources for anything else. The giant boulders some made of solid granite sparkle in the sun and some hold deep dark caves under them. From these hardworking and tenacious farmers has emerged a breed of high endurance long distance runners. This region produces the fastest and strongest runners of Meghalaya. The most successful is Binningstar Lyngkhoi, a marathoner who has been representing India for more than a decade. With his best performance clocking 2:17 he has served as an inspiration to many aspiring youth. With every given opportunity to run their fastest, the Mawkyrwat runners secure top podium positions when they represent Meghalaya at various State-meets or at national big-city marathons. The explanation for their natural talent can be attributed to a number of factors. Some of them might be the challenging terrain, higher altitude, staple diet of locally grown organic red rice, division of labor and chores among siblings, genetics or even people’s social attitude towards running. There is no doubt that the people of Mawkyrwat have embraced running as a part of life.
The Mawkyrwat Ultra is designed for long-distance runners to fully experience the landscape, the people, and the food and to build an awareness about this poor yet very talented region.
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Information about the event is available in : English
Location and Terrain
Mawkyrwat lies in the unique South West Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya at an elevation of about 6000ft and is approximately 50 kilometers from Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya. Apart from the Hot Springs at Jakrem, there are few known tourist sights around Mawkyrwat. Though the rest of the state has seen a large growth in tourism in the last few years, this region has been left relatively unscathed by industrialization or the recent development boom. Villages are still pristine and innocent of the stressful and whirlwind lives the rest of us live. The main economy is farming and though the literacy rate is reasonable most of the young graduates cannot be absorbed into the government sector hence most remain as farmers or leave their homes and travel to Shillong and other cities to find jobs.
The terrain of the West Khasi Hills is of rolling hills impeded with boulders some of which are gigantic. Rice is grown in the valleys which are fertile and these fields are irrigated by rivers and natural springs. The region also has dense forest with varied flora and wildlife.