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The Buddha Trails

by Rohan Banerjee

The Buddha Trails is a trail running event that takes place in the Eastern Himalayas, in the state of West Bengal in India. Organized by The Hell Race, it is a challenging race which has three categories: 12km, 30km and 65km. In 2021 and 2022, I participated in the 30km category, which has an ascent of almost 1800 meters.
The route starts and ends at Rimbick, a small hamlet. The people of Rimbick, make this race special with their hospitality.
The race starts from Rimbick Bazaar and takes you to a picturesque foot-bridge which spans the Srikhola river. Once you cross the bridge, the route starts winding up the hill and leads you into a forest, the trail skirting a gurgling stream. The ascent is relentlessly steep. Every part of your body hurts and you just want to find a shrub-free rock and sit down for a few minutes. You pause to take a few deep breaths, and you keep moving. All you can do is chip away at the distance, one step at a time and finally, you reach the U-turn, at the 11km mark.
After a 3km downhill segment from the U-turn, the route gains elevation again for the next 4-5kms, up to Upper Srikhola. By this point, you’re hardly running anymore – walking and jogging in brief spells. It is enough to carry you back down to Srikhola bridge. A few meters before the finish you see the locals lined up on either side of the road. Children are banging on drums and the joy is contagious. You start running the last stretch, high-fiving people along the way. The finish line is in sight and you’re filled with euphoria. You can taste it in your mouth: it tastes like mud, salt and sweat. It tastes like victory.

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