Ultra-marathon race in Bhutan enters Day 2; Bhutanese dominate the first-day

Surinder Singh Oberoi
15 Oct 2022
Ultra-marathon race in Bhutan enters Day 2; Bhutanese dominate the first-day

New Delhi: The marathon runners from Bhutan's armed forces dominated the first day of the snowman race that began October 13 from Gasa to Bumthang in the most challenging terrain of the Himalayan mountains of Bhutan.

Officials reported to media that "As of 9 pm yesterday (October 13), 28 runners of the 29 reached the first aid station at Narithang. It is located at an elevation of 4,650m above sea level and is 40km away from Gasa Dzong."

In the women's category, Sarah Keyes from the United States of America was the first runner to arrive at Narithang. She arrived there at 9hrs, 7mins, and 55 secs. Sarah is an ultra-trail runner based in the Edirondack Mountains, New York, USA.

Sarah was closely followed by Kinzang Lhamo, who completed the Race in 9 hrs, 12 mins, and 55 secs. She is an RBA soldier from Damthang, Haa. Kinzang Lhamo came second in the coronation marathon in Paro this year.

Karma Yangden, from Laya, came third. She finished the Race in 9hrs, 17mins, and 55 secs.

In the men category, the top four participants of the day were all from Bhutan's armed forces. Gawa Zangpo from Royal BodyGuards was the first to arrive at Narithang. He reached there at 12:56 pm. He took 6hrs, 57 mins and 26 secs from Gasa Dzong.

Sangay Wangchuk from Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) in Gelephu was the second runner to reach Narithang in 7 hours, 36mins, and 24 secs. He is the winner of the Snowman Calibration Run held in 2019 from Gasa to Bumthang.

Sangay from the Commando Wing of the RBA in Paro came third. He reached Narithang in 7hrs 39 mins, and 19 secs. Sangay took part in the 2016 International Half Marathon and came fourth.

David Mendelsohn from Australia withdrew from the Race. He could not proceed after reaching the Roduphu checkpoint, 35km from Gasa Dzong.

Bhutan is hosting the toughest ultra-marathon in the world. The Tourism Council of Bhutan announced that Snowman Race, the most ultra-challenging ultra-marathons, begins on October 13 and will conclude on October 17, 2022.

The Race is an initiative the King of Bhutan took to generate awareness about the climate emergency and effects of global warming, particularly on the planet's most threatened ecosystems, such as those of the high Himalayas.

The competition has twenty-nine international athletes, including nine Bhutanese runners. The athletes are from the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, Tanzania, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The Race will navigate the most challenging trekking route in Bhutan, the Snowman Trail, passing through some of the most stunning areas in the Kingdom, including the remote Lunana area, home to nomadic herders living between glaciers.

Competitors will also traverse the base of Gangkhar Puensum, the world's highest unclimbed mountain (and Bhutan's tallest peak at 24,836ft.

Athletes will compete for over 203 kilometres across five days at an oxygen-sparse average height of 14,800 feet above sea level, with the highest point of 17,946 feet. The trail has been completed by fewer people than have summited Mount Everest and typically requires between 20-25 days to complete.

This run for the world is about climate change that is affecting countries like Bhutan. The Himalayas, also known as The Third Pole, are becoming increasingly volatile. Bhutan is saying to the world that climate change is a serious issue.

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