Home Dehradun Four years on, Everest twins Nungshi Tashi continue to make Indians proud globally

Four years on, Everest twins Nungshi Tashi continue to make Indians proud globally

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‘World’s Toughest Race’ accomplished by Everest twins Tashi Nungshi
Race finds pride of place in Amazon Prime Series
By Our Staff Reporter 
Dehradun, 16 Sept: Many Indians will not know about ‘Olympics of adventure racing’ event that took place in remote Pacific nation of Fiji in September 2019. Impressed by India’s young adventurers Nungshi Tashi who had achieved over half dozen world’s firsts in their quest for the Explorers Grand Slam, in Feb 2019, Bear Grylls invited the sisters to form Team India and compete in this race, which eventually drew 66 teams from some 30 countries. The twins were then planning on scaling some more top peaks in the world but this offer seemed even more challenging and riskier than any of their planned summits. Plus, it had the element of showcasing the strength and resilience of the Indian girls on a globally aired platform. There was a catch though. This was not about climbing. Twins had skills, training and experience only in scaling extreme mountains. The adventures on this 671 km long race involved ocean, lakes, rivers, swamps, jungles and hills. Not surprising that the Indian team ‘Khukuri Warriors’ selected and led by the twins were absolute rookies compared to other teams. Being acutely aware of their limitations, Nungshi Tashi still said yes to Bear Grylls’ offer because it was an honor to represent the country as a first and only South Asian team to ever run on Eco challenge world race. The next six months before the race were a journey into a whole new world of adventure, familiarizing with water sports, jungle and hydrographic navigation, first aid, rescue, MTB and what not. The sheer range of assembling required gear, much of which was not available in India and the logistics of shipping it all the way to Fiji was a bigger nightmare. That the team pulled it all together to be ready for the race looks like a miracle now. Yet on seeing the races experience and kit preparations of other teams in Fiji, the twins realized how far they lagged on every count. The race route and its details were a secret.  Descending at the start point by helicopter, Bear Grylls disclosed the race map. A 671 km long race to complete in 11 days and nights nonstop with a mandatory four hours rest at each of the four staging areas. It involved every conceivable human powered locomotion from kayaking, rafting, sailing, stand up paddle boarding, assembling and using local bamboo rafts to river and lake swimming, rock climbing and MTB. No GPS was allowed. Navigation was with grid maps issued just before start of each stage.
If lucky, the twins had hoped to barely complete stage one in given time and quit. What more can you dream, given that you hadn’t ever practiced MTB cycling and the first stage itself involved 80 km cycling on hilly dirt roads. To make things worse, as the race unfolded an unexpected severe storm struck the Island. Sea turbulence grew, river waters soared, water currents raged in opposite direction, all gear soaked in icy cold water and the dirt roads became pools of slush. The starting stage proved so brutal that Team Khukuri Warriors barely and miraculously made just in time, past the cut off time and as the ‘last team in’. Already six teams out of the starting 66 teams dropped out of the race in this first stage. Barely able to stand up, the team was on verge of quitting at this point. After all they had still salvaged some of their honor reaching this far as total rookies on the race.
Then resting in the mandatory four hours, twins reflected on the huge stakes they represented for the pride of the tricolor, especially what their performance would mean for the millions of Indian girls and women at home. The ‘purpose’ became much higher and more powerful than their bleeding legs and aching muscles. And it acted as rocket fuel for their resolve to continue and to not quit till they fell down in the quest for the finish line and could not push any further. Their Dad, Col VS Malik (Retd) who was the team assistant crew whispered before they started out on the next stage ‘Your best is yet to come. Remember, men start falling out after 72 hours, women only get stronger after 72 hours!’ The twins exploits in the balance of this most grueling race on the planet only proved him right. They started out as one of the last, trailing teams but grew stronger and more determined over following days, slowly overtaking teams, seeing so many of them quit the race or suffer major injuries and not making in time to next cut of time limits. Eventually in a most inspiring and incredible saga of racing, Team Khukuri Warriors completed the race in 36th position, one full day before cut off time, beating 30 far more experienced teams of the competing 66 teams to the finish line. 22 teams could not complete the race. Holding the tricolor high, the twins ran in style towards the finish line along with their two male team members where Bear Grylls himself was waiting with immense pride and disbelief in what these young Indian women has just accomplished. It was a moment where history had been scripted by the twin sisters.
A year later, this race also known as ‘Eco challenge Fiji 2019’ appeared on Amazon Prime video as epic 10-episode series by the same name ‘World’s Toughest Race’ and Team Khukuri Warriors is one of the 8 featured teams who have been covered extensively from the beginning to the race completion. This series is an absolute ‘must watch’ especially by parents and girls who would draw immense inspiration to enable their daughters to dream big and achieve. The race was over four years ago but the story of this ‘Team India’ will continue to inspire coming generations to live life of dreams and possibilities. Not of fears and limitations.
Ironically more people abroad from other nationalities have watched the twins on this series than Indians at home. It is heartwarming when people overseas comment how inspiring they found the twin sisters resilience and their ‘never say die’ spirit. Indian diaspora who have watched this race all over the world feel especially proud of their mother land and its daughters.