Recently, associates of the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages’ (HCCB) Aranya factory participated in The Himalaya Adventure Challenge – 2017. It beckons the participants to combine their skills, teamwork and abilities to the fore. It’s kind of a triathlon with a twist. Combine mountain cycling, white water rafting and trekking over a total distance of 35 kms and the resultant ordeal is The Himalaya Adventure Challenge. Plus all of this needs to be completed in a day—yeah, just one day that can change a lot of things.
Here, Joydeep Roy, a four-time participant shares with Journey India his experiences and that of his team as so why such grueling yet energizing programmes should be extended to everyone across organisations.
The Himalyan Adventure Challenge is the new name given to the programme from this year on—it was previously known as the Aquaterra challenge. I have been participating in it for the last three years because I was part of the corporate team at HCCB. This year, I thought of taking my factory associates along, because such events are not typical for a manufacturing plant.
Since the number of associates in the factory who wanted to participate was large, we had an internal screening programme. The process involved squats, plank, running and push up sessions. Som, Sharif and Veerenda were selected, based on their physical and mental fitness.
Post selection, the next most important thing was to prepare for the event. We hardly had one or two weeks’ time left, and we wanted the associates to be in their best shape going into the competition- although I must say that apart from me, the team was already pretty much in good shape! But we still insisted on having at least an hour of jogging, running or some kind of strenuous physical activity apart from their normal shift operations. Also, before the challenge started, I took the team on a mock trekking session to a nearby hill very close to Bangalore- an eight km hike, which provided a great warm up session before we started the actual adventure.
The campsite was somewhere deep inside the Rishikesh valley. We reached a day before to get acclimatised to the weather conditions. In Bangalore it was around 25-26 degrees Celsius, but at the campsite, it was only about five to six degrees- which was a bit of a shock to us!
The actual challenge comprised three activities- biking, rafting and hiking. All three needed to be done back to back, and the time it took to transition from one activity to another was included in the total time taken by the team to complete all three. The method of calculating the overall team score was based on the technique used in the Boston Marathon, where individual scores were summed up to give the team an overall ranking.
Just before the race started, we also took part in an orientation session for the rafting activity- which was the one we were most hesitant about. The water around us splashing onto our faces and bodies was almost at a temperature of zero degrees Celsius, unsurprisingly so for we were in the last week of December! With very limited knowledge of rafting, it was difficult controlling the raft- especially around the rapids, which were certainly not for amateurs!
After rafting, we started for the hike which was over a distance of 17 kms! To make things worse, the initial three to four kms were completely uphill and that’s where we lost all our energy! After that, the terrain was flat but the race demanded that we run across it. This is where the youthfulness of Som, Sharif and Veerenda gave them an advantage over me because I was the slowest one in the group! Thankfully, the last five kms were downhill, so I managed to reach the end right after Sharif and Som. We completed the hike in just over three hours, which was a great time for a newbie group like us.
In the evening, we had a session with the other team members and organisers where we were felicitated with a completion medal and certificate.
What we learned at the end of this adventure was that it more about completing the race rather than competing in it. Over my last four years, I had seen many people unable to complete all three activities, so I am proud of the fact that the team managed to complete the entire race.
This was the first time that Som and Veerenda had come out of their ‘known’ territory of Bangalore- the first time they took a flight to Delhi. Everything was a first for them. So this was something which gave them a lot of confidence in exploring new horizons. That was the main reason we started this type of programme in our factory. I have seen the way in which people find a certain new-found confidence about them.
We have a lot of adventure sports coming up all across the country. In fact, the same team has participated in the Maruti Suzuki Devils Circuit, which is a five km, 14-obstacle race. The journey will continue!