The year 2018 has been a special one for Hyderabad’s adventurers and athletes. While reflecting on their special moments and achievements in the year, these adventure junkies tell us what they are looking forward to in the New Year.
Scaling new heights!
In March this year, Amgoth Tukaram became Telangana’s youngest mountaineer to successfully complete three expeditions to Mt Norbu (17,145 ft), Mt Rudugaira (19,091 ft) and Stok Kangri (20,187 ft). Three months later, the 19 year-old Hyderabadi, who is a final year degree student of Noble Degree and PG College, has scaled another height by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest point and tallest free-standing mountain in the world (5,895 m). Reflecting on the year, the teenage mountaineering sensation says, “2018 has been a fantastic year for me as I have managed to complete around four expeditions. I did not get enough time to prepare for them due to my academic commitments. Next time, I will ensure that there’s enough preparation time.” He adds that he would like to complete another major expedition of scaling Aconcagua (Argentina) in 2019. “Next year, I want to scale Aconcagua, the highest mountain in both the Southern and Western Hemispheres for which I have started prepping,” he shares.
Patriotism on their biking jackets
In what was tipped to be a flag ride, 14 Bulleteers of the Hyderabad Wanderers Club rode to Kargil to commemorate Kargil Vijay Diwas pay tributes to the martyrs of Kargil war. “As a part of our continuous thanksgiving gesture to the Armed Forces, in 2018, we went for Kargil Vijay Diwas and paid tributes to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country. This was our first such trip, and it was a memorable one. We want to spread the message of patriotism by organising such rides and we are looking for more such rides in 2019”, says Pavan Goda, who led the team.
Four women bikers (Jai Bharathi, ASD Shanthi, Shilpa Balakrishnan and Piya Bahadur) from Hyderabad went on an eight-week expedition, ‘Road to Mekong’. The 56-day road trip, which was flagged off in February, spanned 17,000 kilometres across six Southeast Asian countries (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and India) through the newly-constructed India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway. Reflecting on the year, Shilpa Balakrishnan, says, “2018 will always remain special in our memories because of the historic expedition we set off on. Despite apprehensions, we went ahead and accomplished something unique. So this road trip will make our year memorable.” Next, these women are planning something even bigger. “Since the whole objective of the last trip was to promote adventure tourism in Telangana, this time, we want to do it differently,” explains Shanti. Adding, “We are in the process of planning a similar expedition in terms of magnitude, but haven’t yet decided on the place and time. The whole idea is to spread the message that ‘women can do anything’.”
Swimming into glory
Tulasi Chaitanya, a Vijayawada cop, has done the nation proud by setting a new record in long-distance swimming. The head constable became the talk of the nation by beating the record for the shortest time taken to swim across the Palk Strait in May this year. He managed to swim from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi in India a distance of 29 kilometres in eight hours and 25 minutes. “It has been a great year for me, and I have moved one step ahead by swimming across the Palk Strait. “I want to swim across the English Channel, from England to France next year,” he says.
The year 2018 has been an impressive one for Hyderabad-based adventure-junkie Pruthu Mehta. After going on a 10-day extreme desert expedition to Rajasthan (in May), covering a distance of over 2,500 kilometres on motorcycles under the scorching summer sun, he went and experienced the epic Winter Ladakh Challenge in December.“I wanted to do something different; I thought an extreme summer desert ride and Winter Challenge would be a unique experience. These expeditions gave me immense satisfaction. I am passionate about riding for the past 15 years,” says Pruthu, adding, “I am fortunate that this year, I have got a lot of opportunities to try different things.” The 40-year-old says that his next expedition would be the Kashmir Challenge. “In 2019, we are planning to go on the Kashmir Expedition and we know it’s going to be very tough. Hopefully it’ll be another surreal experience and we are all excited and are looking forward to it,” says Pruthu.
The world's largest ultra marathon
2018 seems to be another significant one for Hyderabad’s runners. Four athletes (Gautam Pondi, Srinivas Gadde, Amit Kshirsagar and Diganta Roy) successfully completed the world’s oldest and largest ultra marathon, the Comrades Marathon, in South Africa recently. Srinivas, one of the four runners shares, “This is the first time we participated in such a huge marathon (90 kilometres) and we were euphoric. Several persons warned us not to participate, but we actually went there to enjoy ourselves. The year will be a memorable one, and the event will be a milestone event in our careers.” Gautham, another athlete, adds, “The event gave us an insight into how to prepare for iconic marathons. We realised the marathon was about enjoying and spreading cheer, which we shall continue to do in our coming marathons next year.”
This year saw another Hyderabadi athlete hit the headlines. Niharika became India’s first woman to complete a triple-Super Randonneur (SR). The 40-year-old mother-of-two, Niharika, became India’s first female triple-Super Randonneur (long distance cycling sport) (SR) and the first Hyderabadi to complete a 1,000 kilometres brevet. Niharika shares, “I feel blessed to be able to complete a triple-Super Randonneur (SR). My wins in 2016 and 2017 have been the stepping stones for achieving this SR. It was tough balancing my work and passion, but fortunately things fell into place accordingly.” Niharika looks ahead at 2019 with great hope and has her sights set on completing the London Edinburgh London (LEL) Challenge for the future. “There is some more time for the LEL challenge. Meanwhile, I want to further better my resistance and look for other major cycling tournaments that are taking place in India,” says Niharika.