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Snowman Race Bhutan

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

What is a Snowman race?

The Snowman Race is an ultramarathon of 203 kilometers (126 miles) held through unexplored heights in the eastern mountain passes and harsh terrains of about 5470M (17,946 feet). The goal of the race is not only to challenge the skills of the world’s fittest runners but also to raise awareness about the glaring effects of climate change. This ultramarathon is considered to be one of the most difficult, isolated, and high-altitude foot-races in the world. The race takes up to 5 days to complete.

Why the snowman race?

This race was motivated by the fifth king of Bhutan and his foresight in protecting the country's natural and cultural heritage. It aims to raise awareness of climate change which is one of the most important concerns of our time, and its effects on people living in vulnerable mountainous environments. Moreover, it also provides proper acknowledgement to those highland communities on the rural frontline, who face the effects of climate change at firsthand.

The entire region where the Snowman Race is held provides excellent examples of how climate change impacts the place due to retreating glaciers. Glacial lakes run the risk of bursting through the walls of their ice and rock moraines, overflowing the valleys below, and eventually dissipating. So, in order to spread awareness about how far-reaching and irrevocable the effects of global warming see, the ultramarathon was initiated as a movement to fight against climate change.

The race puts the world's stakeholders, global community, and athletes under pressure to adopt audacious and revolutionary steps to stop the global climate change that is already underway.

When did it begin?

Bhutan’s first-ever international ultramarathon began in the 13th of October this year till the 17th of the same month. 29 different athletes including both Bhutanese and international runners participated in the Snowman race. The participants ran from Gasa dzong which was the starting point of the race till Chamkhar, Bumthang as the finishing line.

Getting to know the winners:

Zangpo is a 28-year-old man who held the overall title of the winner of the first-ever Snowman Race in Bhutan. He completed the race in 31 hours 53 minutes and 26 seconds. Gawa used to run whenever he had time, but for the Snowman Race, he trained diligently for approximately a month. Given that he was up against numerous competitors from other countries, he never imagined that he would win the title.

In 34 hours, 18 minutes, and 02 seconds, Sangay Wangchuk from the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) in Gelephu became the second runner to arrive at Chamkhar. He previously won the 2019 Gasa to Bumthang Snowman Calibration Run.

Third place went to Sangay from the RBA's Commando Wing in Paro. In 35 hours, 23

minutes, and in 06 seconds, he arrived in Chamkhar. In the 2016 International Half Marathon, Sangay placed stood in the fourth position.

In the female category Laya native, Karma Yangden became the first one to complete the race in 49 hours, 01 minute, and 49 seconds. Last year, she competed in the women's race at Gasa and secured the position of the winner. Additionally, she participated in the Laya run in 2016 and 2017.

Kinzang Lhamo, a female RBA soldier from Damthang in Haa is the second winner who completed the race in 49 hours, 27 minutes and 30 seconds.

Lhamo with the tag number SMR NO-14 secured the position of being the third female participant to complete the Snowman race. She reached the finish line at 50 hours, 03 minutes, and 38 seconds.

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