Tansen Ultra 2015 report.
The first ever Tansen Ultra race took place from December 26 to 29, 2015, in the restive town of Tansen of Palpa, Nepal. Organized by Gnarly and Dharohar Adventures, the event came in three flavors: Urban Downhill (DH) mountain biking, Urban Cross-country (XC) mountain biking and half marathon trail running.
The 10 hours journey from Kathmandu to Palpa was intense. Traditional Nepali culture was visible all the way, so were the participants eager to assemble their rigs.
More than 60 athletes, including participants from Bhutan, India, the UK, USA and so forth, took part. The event was held successfully and was one of its kind in Tansen where adventure sports has gained serious attention and wide admiration by the locals, authorities and event organizers.
Despite the challenges with keeping the urban trails clear during the race, hundreds of Tansen’s youths and security personnel volunteered to make the event unfold flawlessly. Indeed, the locals were quite supportive, evident from the excitement witnessed in their cheering and faces. An unprecedented turnout of more than 10,000 spectators from Palpa as well as surrounding metropolis like Kathmandu, Butwal and Pokhara spilled to the streets in anticipation of the runners and riders whizzing by.
Tansen in its entirety was fixated on the extreme sport through the race period.
The running route took athletes from Tansen bazaar to Rani Mahal and back, while the XC trail looped within the main town. DH on the other hand started from Shreenagar tower and following the woods entered the urban section. There were eight categories in total:
DH (Elite and Open)
XC (Elite, Women, Open, Grand Master, Junior)
Trail Running (21K)
The Race Day started with XC Race which received a very good response from the local athletes which consisted of Younglings, Professional Men and Women to Masters who were ready to face the super steep climbs in the selected route.
Securing second position at the Urban XC race in Elite category, Ajay Pandit Chettri said, “This was my first ever 100% urban style XC race. The trails were awesome and the crowd showed tremendous support to the athletes. Such a large number of crowds is unheard of in Nepal’s previous adventure races and the organizers did a great job of keeping what are otherwise busy walking alleys of Tansen.”
Everybody, including the locals were looking forward to for the main highlight event “The Urban DH Race”.
Naveen Barongpa from India who dislocated his shoulder multiple times during the seeding run finished 8th in the final run.
Jocelyn Powelson – The only female DH participant during this event.
Likewise, the technical nature of the downhill trail got the participants at the edge of their saddle and audience held their breaths as close 25 downhill riders ricocheted past them.
The Man – The Machine – The Bomb – The Only Rajesh Magar; who pinned each and every section of the race with style.
Rajesh Magar on his downhill victory said, “The trails were thrilling and definitely challenging, but I had been training well and glad to not have made any mistakes on the high speed trail, especially the rock section.
Mangal Lama – Another loose cannon from Nepal to watch out for!
We also got the opportunity to hang out with The Local Legend Buntay Pandey AKA The First DH Champion of Nepal.
Young Gun ‘Chris Keeling’ was spotted killing each and every section.
The Finish Line was full of style and local crowd who appreciates the sport of mountain biking in Nepal.
The number of downhill bikers is on the rise and it’s quite evident from the enthusiasm of promising riders and an increasing number of downhill races taking place.
The event’s popularity with athletes and locals notwithstanding, the making of Tansen Ultra has not been without a fair share of challenges. Media and branding director of Tansen Ultra Anuj Adhikary explains, “The event has been in the making since last year and was postponed due to the earthquake. Several months later, the blockade threatened the event’s successful execution. In spite of crippling fuel shortages that resulted in limited sponsorship, we managed the event well and are happy the athletes and locals thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.”
We really loved the concept of Local Delicacies being served at the finish line!
Tansen Ultra has definitely taken mountain biking and adventure sports in Nepal to newer heights. Owing to the success of this year’s event, athletes and locals alike have already requested the organizers to hold more such events in the town. Race Director Shyam Limbu from Gnarly hints, “A few ideas are in pipeline, including long-distance trail running, a new happening genre of mountain biking and tubing fest.” Dharohar Adventure’s Subash Kakshapati and Prijesh Pandey, locals of Tansen, attributes the town’s community especially youth groups like Blackboyz in addition to security personnel from the police and army for the event’s smooth implementation.
Palpa has gotten a true taste of adventure sports and building on the event’s grand success, Gnarly and Dharohar Adventures are keen to make Tansen Ultra an even bigger and an international affair in its next editions.
All Photos by: Vineet Sharma | Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine