2nd Annual Mussoorie Half Marathon Culminates Writer’s Festival!

IMG_1715The Sixth Mussoorie Writers’ Mountain Festival was arguably the best ever this year with a wonderful array of mountaineers, authors, poets and musicians entertaining packed crowds over the four day event.

This year’s festival culminated in the second Mussoorie Half Marathon on Sunday, which saw runners make their way out to Everest House from Mall Road and back to Woodstock School, one of the most gruelling half marathons in India.

The men’s race was won by Woodstock Head of PE Steve Luukkonen in a time of 1hr 39 minutes. In second place was Deepak Kumar followed by Surinder Chand of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in third.

In the women’s event Kaaren Matthias, a doctor with the Emmanual Health Association and a Woodstock parent, took first place in 2hrs 01 mins. She was followed home by Woodstock PE teachers Shannon Schultz and Christina Hazlett in second and third places respectively.

In the team relay event, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police took first place, followed by the Grade 8 team from Woodstock, while the Grade 11 team took third.

On Saturday at the festival doctors Jeph and Kaaren Mathias talk about how they became the first team to navigate the entire length of the Mekong River from its source in the Tibetan Plateau through China’s Yunnan province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Polish mountaineering legend Krzysztof Wielicki, the first man to to climb Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga, and Lhotse in the winter, told stories of his experiences in the Himalaya, while other highlights included animated films on folklore from Sikkim and Arunachel Pradesh, and a session on the folk theatre of Uttarakhand by Dr D R Purohit.

Ed Beavan, communications associate at Woodstock School, said he felt this year’s festival was one of the best ever.

“My congratulations to organiser Steve Alter, the line-up was superb this year with a wide variety of subjects covered. Author William Dalrymple was particularly entertaining, while Rom Whitaker’s film on leopards in India was informative, exciting and scary! I’m looking forward to next year’s festival already, although this one will be hard to beat!”


Inaugural Mussoorie Half Marathon a “stunning success”

More than 200 competitors took part in the inaugural Mussoorie Half Marathon on Sunday (November 4), the culmination of the fifth 302738_10102544681749310_1178324780_nMussoorie Writers Festival which took place over the weekend.

On a cool November morning individual and team runners started out from Mall Road in Mussoorie, snaking their way out to Everest House before returning to Picture Palace and then on to the finish line at Woodstock School.

The race was won by Sumit Kumar, from Uttar Pradesh, in a time of one hour 37 minutes, followed two minutes later by runner up Steve Luukkonen, Woodstock’s School’s Head of PE and one of the race organisers.

Read more here…


International Spotlight: Steve Luukkonen Reflects on the Boston Marathon

On Tuesday (April 16) Woodstock awoke to the news of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. During the morning an all staff email found its way into our inboxes:

Good morning Woodstock,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m sure most of you have heard the events of the Boston Marathon yesterday.  At 4pm starting at main gate there will be a run in honour of all those injured and killed in the bombings, starting with a short prayer.  We’ll start at main gate, head towards JB2 and from there go as far, fast, and long as you want. Thanks, Steve

Steve Luukkonen is this week’s featured staff member in our on-going series, International Spotlight.

How do the Boston Marathon and the head of the PE department at Woodstock school tie together? Worlds apart it would seem. Steve was originally coming for the interview on Tuesday but found the news from Boston upsetting and instead arranged the prayer and run.

On Wednesday we finally set up the interview.

Steve is the son of a Lutheran pastor Mum and hails from Minnesota, arriving at Woodstock in the summer of 2009.  Aged 24 and fresh from college, Steve attended a recruiting fair in northern Iowa. Polly Petersen, HR head at the time, saw potential in this young man who was eager to come to India.

“I have a very open personality, not a closed mind and I thought this is going to be an adventure. I was going to throw myself into my new life and see what happens. I had only ever been out of America once when I travelled to Italy in 10th grade for a band trip.”

With a Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish background this decision to come to Woodstock was about to change his entire life. Steve’s youth was an incredible asset and Mr Steve soon became extremely popular with students and faculty alike.

In November 2011 Steve become Head of PE. I asked him about the changes he has brought to this new position.

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Woodstock Runners Featured in Times of India


Woodstock Tigers Dominate Corbett Marathon at Weekend


Despite not seeing any tigers in their safari at Corbett National Park on Friday, Woodstock’s running tigers were out in force on Saturday as they dominated the third Corbett Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K races.

In the marathon Head of PE Steve Luukkonen exorcised the ghosts of last year’s race, which he was forced to drop out of due to extreme heat, by winning the 42-kilometre race in a fantastic time of 3:16:24.

The half marathon section was also won by a Woodstock runner, Grade 12 student Bendix Kemmann, in a time of 1:29:18. This was two better than last year for Bendix when he finished third.

French teacher Dane Latimer finished in seventh place overall in the half marathon, while two staff members and three other students also completed the 21K run in creditable times.

In the 10K English teacher Melanie Reichwald was the first female runner home and fourth overall, while six other Woodstock runners finished in the top 20. Band teacher Lindsay Boyd was first woman home and second overall in the 5K.

Read more here…