Rahul & Rajesh Comp #02
This is our second year participating in Gumball India, and as expected the event was bigger and better this year!
After the south-to-north run last year of 3000kms in Gumball 2020, which was the longest endurance drive we ever did, Gumball 2021 raised the stakes with a 4000kms west-to-east run. All the maps that we have seen from childhood really do not show that India is almost as wide (~2900 kms) as it is long (~3200 kms). We actually had to Google that information.
That is one of the coolest things about Gumball. Yes, it is a competition, but it is also fun, lots of learning (see below about locations), and most importantly – meeting new friends – for life. After all, how often would you find 30+ people that are as insane as you to attempt something as crazy as this.
This year’s event was special – We started at the western most end of India – Koteshwar in Gujarat from where it is said that the glow of light from Karachi, Pakistan can be seen in a clear night. We missed this as we were getting the last few naps in before the sleepless ordeal. From there, the drive ended at Kaho in Arunachal Pradesh, almost at the China border.
Along the way, our checkpoints were equally interesting and covered some really important places including:
- Lakhpat – One of the important trading posts connecting Gujarat to Sindh.
- Kalo Dungar – Famous for 400-year-old Dattatreya temple as well as the only place from where you can get the best majestic views of the Rann of Kutch.
- Dholavira – One of the five largest Harappan sites and the most prominent site in India for Indus Valley Civilisation.
- Chittorgarh – Does not need any introduction after the epic poem and the more recent magnum opus, Padmaavat
- Kota – Historical reasons apart, who has not seen Kota Factory on Netflix?
- Khajuraho – A UNESCO world heritage site
- Chunar Fort – A fort/city with tons of history and stuff of the legends
- Darbhanga – One of the oldest cities in India, and the cultural capital of Bihar
- Guwahati – Largest city in the northeast, on the banks of Brahmaputra
- Wakro / Parshuram Kund – A place of significant religious importance
Don’t get me wrong! This is not a sightseeing event. The competition was INTENSE! The difference between the winners and the 2nd place team was one pressure induced wrong turn and a difference of less than 17 kms – over a drive of close to 4000 kms. It is an endurance test of both man and machine!
While it is true that you have two drivers in the car, if you are thinking the one can sleep while the other drives – there is nothing farther from truth. You are never resting as you are continuously driving, or navigating, or strategising, or off-roading, or dealing with emergencies and supporting your co-competitors.
Kudos to the organisers, Mr. Sudev Brar, and Incarnation Sports – Not everyone can pull off an event as complicated as this – in such a safe and successful manner. The prep for the event was amazing and as second time participants, we could easily see the learnings from the 1st year put to good use – right from technical improvements via data loggers, new and improved Virtual Marshal Phone App, Marshals and support team members calling in through the night to check on the participants and our health, emergency support for participants via a sweep in the form of TT128 Motorsports and amazing Abbas Taskeen – the list is endless.
Finally, with participants including all-women teams and differently-abled teams – all participating in the same event under the same rules – there is no better show of inclusiveness.
Gumball – An event like no other that we would love to participate in every year!