From Mawkyrwat to Portugal: The humble rise of a farmer as a marathon runner in Meghalaya


By SHWETA RAJ KANWAR | March 26, 2019

Life in the hinterlands of Meghalaya may be simple but not easy. A farmer from a remote Mawkyrwat district of the state undertakes menial jobs to support his family of five while working hard every single day to fulfill his passion for running. He has now been selected to represent India in Portugal. But, will he be able to make it with his meager resources?


He wakes up at 5 am every morning, goes for a one-and-a-half hour running practise, returns home to have his meal only to prepare himself for a hard day's toil of 10 am – 5 pm farming, then returns back home to ready himself for yet another day of fulfilling his passion for running—

This is the story of Tlanding Wahlang, a renowned ultramarathon runner and a farmer from remote Shngi Mawlein village in Mawkyrwat District of Meghalaya.

Coming from an extremely humble background and afarmer by profession, the 40-yr-old Tlanding with his wife and 4 children hasbeen working hard to make ends meet and yet has no qualms about life.

He never gave up on his passion for athletics and sports, despite the fact that his hard toil as a labour in the fields and at mines leaves him completely exhausted everyday. At the age of 35, Tlanding decided to pursue his passion for running and began disciplining himself by following a strict 5-10 regime involving running, eating healthy, farming and spending time with his family. Since the age of 35, there has not been a single day that he may have skipped his running practise, come what may.

Tlanding received his biggest boost at the age of 36 when he won his first ever marathon event- The Sohra Marathon in 2015 organized by Run Meghalaya Association (RMA).

This was just the beginning of his list of achievements as a runner, for he went on to win the 2016 Sohra Marathon yet again. These achievements set the path for him to represent Meghalaya in marathon events in other parts of India including Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. 

"As I kept on winning, I began to realise that even running can bring in some amount of money to sustain my family. I think this is God's plan to show me that I have a talent and I should make good use of this. Running is no doubt my passion but winning has become a necessity of sorts for me now as I cannot only rely on farming and mining activities for my family. I also need to set a good example for my children who are growing up fast", says Tlanding with a humble smile on his face.


But a cloud of worry begins to engulf his optimism when he says, " I will run for as long as my body allows me since I have no sustainable flow of income. I have to divide my time between farming, mining and running. I need to occasionally leave my family behind to undertake mining activity away from my district and things get tough at times. But I have realised that running helps to bring in a comparatively better income than menial labour and I will run no matter what for my passion and my family!".

Tlanding was faced with the ultimate challenge in 2018 when he participated in the 60 km Manali Solang Hell Race where he emerged victorious.


"The race, as the name suggests, was literally like hell. We had to run from beneath the waterfalls and slippery trails and there was no way I was giving up. This was my passion and I had to complete that race at any cost. But I did not think I could win it", he says with great delight as if to portray that after winning that challenge, nothing else was rough for him!

Tlanding's victory at the 72 km Mawkyrwat Ultramarathon in 2018 brought him recognition and Run Meghalaya Association (RMA), a non-profit organization decided to sponsor his expenses for whenever he received an opportunity to represent the state in other parts of the country and even abroad.

One of the biggest achievements for Tlanding as a runner is his selection to represent India at Portugal for the Trail World Marathon Championship to be held on June 8, 2019.

"I am extremely happy to be one of the five runners from India who will be representing the nation abroad. But the fact is that I am not financially equipped to pay for my travel expenses. I am only a menial worker. But I am grateful to Run Meghalaya for having decided to sponsor me. This will only be a dream for me without Run Meghalaya", he says with a hopeful gleam in his eyes.

Tlanding is just one of the few runners being honed and supported by Run Meghalaya Association (RMA).

Two more runners from Shillong- Marvin Kharkongorand Okilang Syiemlieh have been selected to represent Meghalaya in Shimla forthe Tuffman Ultra Marathon to be held on June 8, 2019.

Marvin and Okilang were also recognised by RMA after the 72 km Mawkyrwat Ultramarathon in 2018. The organization will also be sponsoring their Shimla run.


Having passed out from Raid Laban College, Marvin isstill looking for a job to sustain his family and instead of channelizing hisfrustration and energy in the wrong places, he prefers to run in order to venthimself out while also spreading the message of a healthy lifestyle among hisyouth circle. He stood in the 6th position (overall) and 3rdposition (18-35 years category) at the IDBI Run in Kolkata held on Feb 4ththis year.

It is said that humble beginnings often lead tobeautiful destinations and the story of these marathon runners from Meghalayaonly prove that with courage, grit and determination, one can achieve beyondmeasures even with limited resources at one's disposal.


Having registered itself as a full-fledged organization in 2015, Run Meghalaya Association (RMA) has been supporting various runners from the state to realise their potential and fulfill their dreams. They ensure that these capable marathon runners do not come this far only to halt there. The Association has been trying to incorporate help and support to streamline raw talent from the remotest corners of Meghalaya that often fade into the oblivion of an urban outlook. 

RMA is actively involved in giving local runners a platform to nurture their running skills and showcase their talents at important national events. It is also involved in organizing events in the state such as the Mawkyrwat Ultra and Shillong 10K. Well-organized events like this in the state itself allows for local talent to be spotted and nurtured for professional training. They also increase the interest in the sport every year and potentially grow the number of both professional athletes as well as recreational runners.

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