Thinley Namgay   

The eighth edition of the Bhutan International Marathon (BIM) will take place virtually on April 17.

BIM is a day-long annual event organised by the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) to encourage running culture and to foster relationships between the participants from different countries.

Participants have to register on the BIM’s google page with their name, email address, and contact number.  Registration is ongoing.

BOC’s official, Tshering Zam, said that 266 runners from 22 countries, including 86 foreigners, had registered for BIM as of yesterday.  “Registration will remain open until the event day. BOC is expecting around 300 runners. ”

Participants worldwide have to download the STRAVA app from the Play Store and join the Bhutan Amateur Athletic Federation (BAAF) running club to take part in the race.

The marathon has three categories—21km, 10km, and 5km.

During the actual competition on April 17, one can only compete for 21km, 10km or 5km race from any place by opening the STRAVA app.  After completing the run, participants have to save the run as BIM 2021.

BOC’s official, Phuntsho Choden, said that participants would not have to pay a registration fee. “Only e-certificates will be awarded to those who complete the race.”

“BOC will not announce the winners. It is virtual, and participants might run uphill, downhill or in the plain area, and it would result in time difference,” she said.

Last year, 352  runners, including 68 international participants, competed for BIM at Punakha on March 7.  The full marathon (42km)  started from Tashithang, Gasa, at an elevation of 6,700 feet above sea level, while the half marathon (21km)  flagged off from Uma resort in Punakha, which is approximately 4,311 feet above sea level.

Due to the first Covid-19 positive case on March 5, 170 participants withdrew last year.

In 2019, 379 participants took part, and 290 and 419 runners competed in 2017 and 2018, respectively.