Cycling: Three-time winner of the Dantak open mountain bike race, Sonam claimed his fourth trophy in the tournament as project Dantak celebrated its 54th Raising Day in Bhutan on Sunday.

A Japanese volunteer teacher, Reika Yoshii, also retained her last year’s top position in the women’s category.

Sonam, 38, completed the 120km race in three hours 48 minutes and 17 seconds. He had lost to an Australian volunteer teacher, Tom Horniblow, last year by 50 seconds.

Ten minutes later 24-year old Jigme Tenzin came second in the men’s category completing the race in three hours 58 minutes and 31 seconds.

Reika Yoshii finished the race in four hours, 20 minutes and 12 seconds. The 27-year old volunteer said that the race this year was special for her. “My colleagues and students in Paro came to support me near Drugyel, that was very special for me,” she said.

The lodge manager of Amankora,Punakha, Laura Livia Fraefel came second.

The organisers, Dantak added two new categories to the race and under-16 youth category and a veterans category for those above the age of 50, this year.

A Motithang Higher Secondary School student, Tenzin Duba, 15, came first in the under-16 category finishing the race in four hours 40 minutes and two seconds.

In the veterans category Nim Gyalishen completed the race in five hours 10 minutes and 32 seconds beating Tawpo Dukpa by 17 minutes to bag the first prize.

Foreign participants dominated the women’s category. Phuntsho Choden, 18, was the only Bhutanese who made it to the top five of the category.  “I’ve improved my timing by almost an hour and that it is a great achievement for me,” she said.

The race this year was named “Challenge 60- Sixty” coinciding with the 60th Birth Anniversary of Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck covering 120km, 20km more than last year.

The first five position holders of the race, both men and women, received a cash prize of Nu 65,000, Nu 45,000, Nu 25,000, Nu 15,000 and Nu 10,000 each. The first two positions in the under-16 and veteran categories took home Nu 15,000 and Nu 10,000 each. His Majesty the King also gifted five cycles to the winners of the race.

Of the 172 individuals registered for the race, only 157 participated. Eight women, 24 under-16 youth and two veterans took part in the fifth open race. Only 101 individuals completed the race.

Those who could not complete the race took rides in taxis on the way back obvious from the cycles atop them.

By Younten Tshedup