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~~By Ibankyntiew Mawrie
SHILLONG, Sept 4, 2017: When nature itself poses a great deal of challenge, the adrenaline rush to overcome the obstacles is even more exciting. And the natural landscape of Northeast India has but the right ingredients to make off-roading a challenging yet sought after adventure sports in the region.
Meghalaya is no exception to this. The treacherous and natural tracks which some considers being at par with the national off-roading standard took the competitors of the AHOR 4×4 Off-road Challenge to extreme stages testing their skills and their off-roading monsters.
The otherwise serene environment of the Kharsati Park at Ri Bhoi District echoed with screaming exhausts of the off-road vehicles as they squeezed through the forest, splashed through the stream, mud sling off the muddy tracks and navigating through treacherous curves.
As claimed by organisers — Adventurous Hynñiewtrep Offroaders (AHOR), this is the first ever natural track event in Meghalaya. This two-day event organised on September 1 and 2 attracted many professionals of the likes of Eugene Niangti – a pioneer of motorsports in Meghalaya, Yanren Jamio – a Rain Forest Challenge (RFC) participant from Nagaland besides others.
The event included 6 stages (Open Category) with the highlight of the competition being the night track Challenge where mostly river crossing, mud-sloshing and vertical slopes were covered.
According to AHOR general secretary Demetrius Onel Kharkrang, 30 participants registered for the challenge. However, after proper monitoring and scrutinizing, it was found that only 18 competitors and their monster vehicles could battle their way out of this challenge.
"The response we received was over-whelming — dangerous, adventurous and thrilling," said Kharkrang.
Broken down off-road vehicles stand testimony to the challenge put up by the course. Of all the stages, the final downhill ride took the best out of the best. As slimy and slippery the track was, the well-modified vehicles were no match to the obstacles as one after the other slide off track and smashed into a tree at the end of the downhill.
"I can say that the tracks are at par with the national tracks and the drive was even more exciting. The experience was adventurous," said a participant Amitabh Indra from the Assam Eastern Motorsports Association, Guwahati.
What seem an impossible task was not so until proven by two drivers – one in an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and the other in a Jeep who managed to glide through the steep, muddy downhill steering clean off the tree and continuing the course.
Applauds broke through the crowd over their feat as their vehicles jumped through the boulders and drove towards the finishing line after accomplishing what once seemed impossible.
"The last stage was the highlight of the event as we eagerly waited to see how a driver devises a plan to overcome the last stage – downhill ride. Their skills in manoeuvring their machines was fun to watch and you can hear the crowd cheer as the vehicle slide through the slimy track and hit a tree at the bottom of the hill," said an onlooker Abhi Lyngdoh.
When asked about his experience, RFC participant Yanren Jamio from Nagaland who is also member of the Association of Off-roaders of Nagaland said "The tracks are interesting and the toughness level is at par with the national level. However, as far as the organizing level is concerned, I think there is still room for improvement as the standard is not up to the mark."
When asked about the status of Off-Roading in Northeast India, Jamio, who won the Discipline Driver Award in the event, said that Off-Roading in Northeast is growing and the positive aspect of this is the fact that the region is already blessed with the treacherous terrains that facilitates adventurous sporting activities.
"I would comment that though, our standard is not yet at par with the national level, the tracks on the other hand are very much in the same league. We are coming up, we are growing and in no time, we will be in the same boat," said the Off-Roading professional.
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