The inaugural 50 km and 64 km races of the
GSR Tuffman Manali Snow Ultra on January 27 near Manali in Himachal Pradesh are the latest in an explosion of hard-core road and trail races throughout the Himalayas.. The best of the new races are brutally long and arduous. One of the pioneers, the High (or La
Ultra), is a three-day stage-race in Ladakh that crosses three passes higher than 17,500 feet (5,330 metres) in altitude, as competitors in three classes race 111, 222, and 333 kilometres. Similarly gruelling, the Hell Ultra is a five-day stage-race covering the 480 km from Manali to Leh, crossing five passes as high as 18,000 feet (5,490 metres) along the way.
The Tuffman Snow Ultra this week is gentle in comparison. But that’s part of the appeal; this is a race for regular runners. While some of the other Himalayan events are trail races, the Snow Ultra is really for road runners. The 18 km loop traverses a motorable road along the banks of the Beas river that’s 95 per cent tar road. It’s also geared for ultra fans, rather than professional competitors, with distance categories of 20, 32, 50 and 64 km and generous cut-off times, if you don’t plan to walk all the way.