Twenty-nine runners have set off from Gasa today on one of the world’s toughest races across rugged mountains, the 203km Snowman Race.
All 29 runners including nine locals reached Gasa on October 9 ahead of the competition to acclimatise and were stationed at the Gasa Tshachu area.
Race officials said that everything is in place and well prepared for the five-day race that will end in Bumthang on October 17.
There are four aid stations set up for the race at Narithang, Lhedhi, Geche Wom and Julay Tsho.
Officials at these aid stations (AS) will provide communal shelter, food, health service and other necessary aid for the athletes.
Each AS has six officials comprising two medical officials (doctor and nurse), two security personnel, and two technical race officials.
The AS 1 team has reached their station at Narithang located at 4,650 metres above sea level (masl). Narithang is 40km away from Gasa Dzong.
AS 2 team has also reached their station at Lhedhi, located at 3,724 masl.
AS teams 3 and 4 are on their way to their respective stations. They travelled from Bumthang. The AS 3 team who were on the way to Geche Wom, crossed Warthang and stayed at Menchugang yesterday.
The team repaired the trail yesterday and will arrive today. Geche Wom is situated at 4,595masl. It takes a day to reach Geche Wom from Menchugang.
The AS 4 team started trekking from Dhur yesterday. They will reach their Julay Tsho tomorrow. Julay Tsho is 4,322masl.
Between each AS, there is also a checkpoint. These checkpoints will provide basic aid such as water or nutrition and sweeping service. Each checkpoint has two security personnel.
Overall coordination teams are placed in both two base points, Gasa and Bumthang.
Officials said that helicopter services will be provided from Punakha and Bumthang in case of an emergency.
Under the supervision of the Snowman Race secretariat, there are officials from relevant agencies at the Snowman Race control room at Lungtenphug army headquarters in Thimphu.
The control room officials will monitor the athletes up in the mountains and be ready in case of need for evacuation and other support. They will also ensure timely communications with the officials at four ASs and checkpoints.
For communication, all the runners have a GPS device and AS officials have satellite phones. Runners will have to carry a sleeping bag, a water bottle, and also pack lunch.
Officials said that the NCHM team will look after the weather aspect and the race will be halted if the weather is not suitable.
As per the NCHM yesterday’s weather report, the places which fall along the race track will remain cloudy starting today.
There are three video production teams to capture the race. Viewers can track the athletes online at trackleaders.com.