Stridian literally means the first step of a long journey. In fact, this step that was organized by our club is our first step of a long journey and no doubt that it is also a giant step. The foundation to this event was laid at the PERA CHAMPS Hiking Competition organized by the Explorers Club of the University of Peradeniya, a few months ago. The participants from our university at this event felt the urge of sharing their unforgettable experience with the members of Mora Hiking Club. In two days of cold December, 11th and 12th presented the opportunity to make it a reality. Stridian can be named as a highly successful event organized by a small group within a very short period of time.

Mora StridianLarge amount of work had to do before the competition. Organizers got ready in a rush but with the good plan in hand. The obstacles were many, but one by one were overcome with the organizers going ahead. University Explorers Club of Peradeniya offered a unlimitted support in this.

The tournament was held within University of Peradeniya and Hanthana Mountain Range. Five teams namely Vikings, Maori, Zulu, Apache, and Mayans; each having 8 members (5 boys and 3 girls) competed each other for the STRIDIAN 2016 Championship. Teams were selected through a pre-completion workshop held at the University of Moratuwa and they were given a training on various aspects including knots, first aid, map reading, tent setting, and cooking without utensils, which would become useful in hiking and everyday life as well.

Date December 11, 2016; The weather was exceptionally pleasant. The opening ceremony of Stridian was held at 9:30 am and was participated by members of Mora Hiking Club and University Explorers Club of Peradeniya. Competitors were reminded of and further educated about the completion, its rules, and the day’s programme.

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The strides began and the first team started walking at 11 and the other groups followed with a time gap of 20 minutes in the same route. Direction signs were setup for the walk, and the teams were given maps of the route. The route started at Peradeniya University Grounds went through challenging terrains such as forests, hill climbs and water ways, and ended at the camping site at the foot of Hanthana Mountain. Three checkpoints along the routes recorded teams’ arrival times, and assessed their skills in knots, map reading, and carrying a person on a grating made with minimum amount of materials. Activities involved a treasure hunt of finding three letters hidden in different places.

viewphotoalbumFrom a place in close range to the camping site, each team had to carry water required for team for the rest of the day and the day followed.

By 4:00 pm, all teams arrived at the camping site. After a 30 minutes rest, competition of cooking without utensils was held. The teams had to cook a rotti (wheat loaf) with whatever they could find in the camp site (but not proper utensils). Stridian team prepared the dinner and all finished their dinner by 8:30pm. Then it was the time for campfire. The cold mist of hanthana mixed with bright light of fullmoon flowing through Pinus trees was soon washed away by the warmth of the campfire. Short dramas and other activities by the teams washed away all pains of tiresome day. All enjoyed the campfire with songs and fun. Finally the time came for all to sleep thinking of challenges of the day followed. But not all could sleep as few of the organizers had to climbdown with help of torches to arrange the and bring up the breakfast for following morning.

The weather was pleasant on the second day too. After the morning tea, we arranged the camping site to a state better than it was. All joined the warming up exercises with high spirit and expectations for the day.

Second day strides commenced at 8:00 am and teams were sent at 20 minutes time gaps. Teams had to return to the starting point after covering six checkpoints. Arrival times at checkpoints were recorded and skills and knowledge on first aid was also assessed at these points. Second day trail was through the apex of Hanthana, and this give the opportunity to all teams to see the beautiful panorama. Light winds should have washed their exhaustion a bit. The teams had to follow jungle route signs, and a few teams had taken wrong routs. Points were given not only for the timing, but also for the unity among team members. It was heartening to observe, almost all team gave priority for taking all members through challenging terrain. Surely, all should have got an experience for lifetime recall.

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All teams arrive at finish line between 1:00pm and 3:00pm (a little earlier than what organizers had estimated). Marks were given for variety of parameters such as speed, time, team spirit, unity, knowledge and skills. Accordingly, the team Mayans became the champions of Stridian 2016; and Maori became the runners-up.

All teams were appreciated at the closing ceremony held in evening. Invaluable support extended by University Explorers Club of Peradeniya was also appreciated at this event. Dr. Ajith Gunathilaka, adviser of University Explorers Club of Peradeniya; and Mr. Suranga Jayasena, Senior Treasurer of Mora Hiking Club graced the occasion.

STRIDIAN, the first step of a long journey concluded giving us all high expectations for its next step.

Photographs – Asanka Asiri, Shutter U, Media Club UoM

Translated by Suranga Jayasena from Sinhala language article by Asanka Asiri