“Pain is inevitable, Suffering is Optional”
This quote, attributed to Buddhist teachings, was first introduced to me by author Haruki Murakami. It has stayed with me since, and has been particularly relevant to the planning of the GOQii Trail Challenge Season 3.
In 2015, I decided to graduate from running half marathons to attempting a full marathon. I thought that since I was able to do a half marathon with ease, slowly building up to a full marathon should be a manageable feat. However, at the 32km mark, my legs failed me and I was forced to walk the remaining distance, limping to the finish line. I realized that the line between healthy confidence and unhealthy pride is thin, and in this case, my pride had gotten the best of me. The lesson I learned was that there is no substitute for proper training, and it requires time and dedication.
Preparing The Trail
When planning GTC Season 3, we had to take into consideration the limited training opportunities that COVID-19 had created for participants, and therefore, the trail needed to have a balance of “highs and lows”. We also developed a training calendar to help participants prepare. In March 2022, when the Omicron wave had subsided and local authorities relaxed some public gathering restrictions, we began the process of plotting the new trail on a map. We worked with local villages who had expressed interest in being a part of GTC, and considered factors such as checkpoint accessibility and infrastructure.
In May 2022, our team set out on an adventure through the mountainous region of Mandangad, armed with maps, compasses, and machetes. The dense vegetation and varied topography of the area presented a challenge, but we were determined to find a trail that was suitable for first-time hikers. Our team included both experienced hikers and beginners, including one woman, to ensure a balanced experience.
As we hiked, we kept in mind the needs and capabilities of first-time hikers. The ability to see the trail ahead can make a big difference in terms of perceived difficulty, and we made sure to choose routes that offered good visibility. We also avoided dense sections of foliage that could be disorienting and exhausting. While some of these sections were picturesque, we determined that they were not suitable for the GTC trail.
After scouting various routes and making our final selection, we marked it on our map and waited for the monsoon season to pass. The monsoon season in the Ratnagiri region is known for its heavy rains and tall grass growth. In 2022, the monsoon season was particularly long, resulting in even taller grass.
As part of GOQii’s Karma initiative, the decision was made to involve the local community in the trail-making process. Not only does this contribute to the local economy, but it also allows the community to be a part of the event and utilize their knowledge of the region’s old trails and how to navigate the tall grass without disrupting the ecosystem.
From October to mid-November, work was done to prepare the trail for Season 3. When the time came, the group of both first-timers and experienced walkers walked the full trail and determined it was ready for the season.
Dec 10th 2022: D-Day
The motto of #DiscoverYourTrail has a purpose: to inspire people to become the best versions of themselves. At GOQii, we encourage our players to constantly strive for improvement and growth. This motto has a deeper meaning that is meant to be experienced through personal journey and reflection. It embodies the positive qualities of someone who is willing to take risks, embrace change, and move forward with determination, even when faced with uncertainty.
After completing a challenging trail like the GOQii Trail Challenge, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. But after a good night’s rest and some time to reflect, you may find that you are able to view the experience in a different light. You may begin to analyze your performance, piece by piece, and gain a deeper understanding of your own strengths and areas for improvement.
Like my Full Marathon experience, you too would then get the meaning of the Murakami quote.
Pain is inevitable, Suffering is Optional.
P.S: I would like to express my gratitude to all the participants who joined in the GTC Season 3.
A special thank you goes out to the Altitude Quest team and the local villagers for their assistance in designing and developing the trail.
I also want to thank Vasanthi, Rylan, Anand, and Parwage for joining me in exploring the trail, as well as the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly at each checkpoint with a smile.
Thank you to Sunny, Puneet, Yasser, and Dinesh for their help with the infrastructure setup, and to the Blue Green Exotica team for being wonderful hosts once again.