Bhutan will host South Asian Cross Country championship, the first ever in the country, at Royal Thimphu Golf Course in Thimphu on March 27.

Seven South Asian countries – Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka –will take part in the championship.

The championship will see the teams and individuals run a race of 10 kilometres for men and eight kilometres for women on an open-air field above the majestic fortress of Tashichho Dzong.

The day-long event will bring in 70 middle-long distance runners. Men’s team will have six runners while the womens’ team will have four runners from each country.

Themed “regional harmony through athletics”, the event is aimed at introducing the sport for youth and encouraging them with a career pathway through athletics. And, also, to promote cross-country running in the country and to encourage youth into middle-long distance running.

The winners of Laya run, Bhutan international marathon, and coronation marathon that was organised by Bhutan Amateur Athletic Federation (BAAF) in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, will represent the country at the championship. Four women winners of middle-long distance runners were selected to form national women’s team.

Bhutan will also host South Asian Athletics Federations (SAAF) council’s meeting where the presidents and secretaries of federations will take part.

The council meeting is expected to discuss the next level of the cross-country championship, promotions of athletics programme and seek support from the SAAF member nations to establish a middle-long distance training centre in Bhutan.