… Only eight international runners remain in the race  

Thinley Namgay  

Bhutanese runners could seize all the top positions in the first Snowman Race, a five-day ultra-marathon, today at Chamkhar, Bumthang.

Runners will run the last 43km of the race from Julay Tsho to Chamkhar. After running 17km from Julay Tsho, there is a checkpoint at Kurpang. From Kurpang, they have to descend 26km to Chamkhar town.

In the men’s category, Gawa Zangpo, Sangay Wangchuk and Sangay are leading in the top three positions. Karma Yangden, Kinzang Lhamo and Lhamo have an advantage over the others.

Nine Bhutanese runners comprising four women have dominated the race so far.

Sangay, who stood third for the last three days, was the first to reach the fourth aid station at Julay Tsho yesterday. He reached there in 5hrs, 48mins and 3secs.  A second later, Gawa Zangpo crossed the finish line. He completed in 5hrs, 48mins and 4secs. Sangay Wangchuk came third with 5hrs, 50mins and 22secs.

Participants ran for 33km yesterday from Geche Wom to Julay Tsho.  Julay Tsho is located at an elevation of 4,322 metres above sea level.  Runners crossed mesmerising rivers, lakes, hills and vegetation.

Among female runners, Karma Yangden was the first to arrive at Julay Tsho yesterday. She took 7hrs, 34mins and 29secs. Kinzang Lhamo came second by completing in 8hrs, 30mins and 29secs.  Finishing the race in 8hrs, 41mins and 1sec, Lhamo stood third.

All 17 participants reached Julay Tsho before 7pm yesterday.

Meanwhile, the preparations have been completed to receive the runners  at Chamkhar. The prizes will be distributed tomorrow to allow the athletes a proper rest.

Today, there is a food booth opening ceremony followed by cultural programmes and climate awareness.

Of the 20 international runners, only eight remain in the race as of yesterday.  Of the 12 runners who are out of the race, seven of them voluntarily withdrew and five suffered from acute mountain sickness. They all are in stable condition.

Yesterday, two international runners were airlifted from Geche Wom to Bumthang hospital. They were diagnosed with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). HAPE is noncardiogenic pulmonary edema which typically occurs above 2,500 metres above sea level.