Thinley Namgay 

Amidst the growing concerns over COVID-19 outbreak, the Bhutan International Marathon will commence today.  

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering during the press conference yesterday said that more than 100 international participants would compete in the seventh edition of the marathon in Punakha. 

“If we cancel the run, all the international runners would go and watch the tshechu at Punakha, which is risky,” Lyonchhen said. 

More than 300 runners are expected to take part in the marathon.  

The run would starts at 8am for both the full and half marathon categories. 

The full marathon (42km) will start from Tashithang, Gasa at an elevation of 6,700 feet above sea level, while the half marathon (21km) will flag off from Uma resort in Punakha, which is approximately 4,311 feet above sea level. 

The marathon route stretches from Mochhu through rural Punakha valley where runners have to reach Phochhu suspension bridge by 1:30pm and cross the finish line marked at parking of Punakha dzong by 3:00pm.  

The route is designed approximately 50 percent on hard pack dirt with some rocky and uneven surfaces. 

An entry fee of Nu 1,200 and Nu 1,000 for national runners and USD 175 and USD 125 for international runners were collected in the 42km and 21km run respectively. 

Winners for both men and women would receive Nu 40,000, Nu 30,000 and 20,000 in the full marathon. Half marathon winners will get Nu 20,000, Nu 15,000 and Nu 10,000.

Special awards to the top three masters men and women (50 years and above) for both the categories would also be provided. 

A total of 379 participants took part in the marathon last year. 290 and 419 runners took part in 2017 and 2018 respectively. 

Bhutan Olympic Committee is organising the event.