Chencho Dema| Punakha 

The ninth edition of the six-stage 200km race saw 59 racers from 16 different nations, including one from Bhutan complete the first stage yesterday.

Sascha Gramm, a German who finished the 31km in 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 58 seconds, came in first. Women, both Australians, took the second and third spots.

Shaye Pett came second completing the race in 3hrs 46mins and 30 seconds followed by Melissa G who completed in 3hrs 47mins and 18 seconds. 

Runners started from Bazam, the wooden cantilever bridge over Mochhu and finished at Chorten Nyingpo in Kabjisa gewog, where the competitors halted for the night. 

The six-day race will end at Paro Taktshang on June 2. 

In the first stage, the runners ran 31 km, in the second stage they will run 29 km, followed by 28km, 38km, 54km, and 15km in the remaining stages which continue in Thimphu and conclude in Paro. 

The race takes off-road tracks. 

The entry fee for each runner is Euro 2,950 while it is free for locals.

The winners of the race will have the opportunity to compete in any worldwide race of a similar nature that is put on by Global Limits. Similar events are also being held in Albania, Bhutan, Sao Tome, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia.

The organiser in Bhutan, Ngawang Rabsel Wangchuk, said, “The winner will get a free entry, the second winner will get 70 percent discount, and the third winner will get 50 percent entry fee discount.”

Besides promoting adventure tourism and boosting physical and mental health, he said that one of the race’s goals was to raise awareness of climate change.

The runners had travelled to Bhutan at the old SDF rate. 

Bhutan hosted the inaugural multi-stage race in 2014, but owing to the pandemic, the event could not be held in 2020, 2021, or 2022. 

The most recent race was held in 2019 with 58 international competitors.

ATC Travels is the local cooperation partner for the race in Bhutan, and the race is organized by Global Limits, the global race organizer.  The next race will be held in Cambodia from December 1 to December 10.