For Nim Gyaltshen from Paro, 67, age is just a number.
He loves marathon and cycling and continues to set a new bar for himself .
He has become a source of inspiration for many in the capital and across the country. He promotes healthy lifestyle through sports.
Nim Gyaltshen was not a runner or cyclist even in his 50s.
He said, “I sat at the office desk for 8-12 hours a day. I did not worry about my health. Combined with a poor diet, excessive smoking, stress, and high blood pressure, I was very unhealthy.”
Inspired by His Majesty the Fourth King, Nim Gyaltshen started cycling to reduce his weight. Slowly, it became his passion. “To improve my cycling speed, I began running and became more interested in leading an active life.”
Since then, Nim Gyaltshen has been participating in national marathons and cycling events within the country such as the Dantak Cycling Race, Dragon’s Fury, Tour of the Dragon, Bhutan International Marathon, Coronation Marathons, Thimphu half-marathon, Druk Wangyal Run, and Laya Run, among others.
He also took part in many international marathons in Sikkim and Nepal.
Nim Gyaltshen is not fond of winning. His focus is to maintain his fitness.
“My fitness journey has made me very happy. I am now addicted to running and cycling. It makes me feel great and, for me, this is my biggest achievement,” Nim Gyaltshen said.
Recently, Nim Gyaltshen participated in the Tata Mumbai Marathon in India. He got an opportunity to compete as he had maintained a good chip record during a 21km half-marathon in Gangtok, Sikkim in November last year.
Nim Gyaltshen, in his age category, completed the 42.19 km run in 4 hours, 24 minutes and 25 seconds, and was ranked 2,020th out of 7,205 runners.
Nim Gyaltshen said, “I always wanted to participate in the Tata Mumbai Marathon as it is very popular in the region, and runners from all over the world participate in it. I feel very lucky to have even qualified for the marathon.”
He said the traffic had been closed on all routes and one could only see runners and supporters on either side of the road, cheering and providing snacks. “The mood was very festive with music blasting through the streets.”
He reached a half-way point (21km) without even feeling tired.
However, after completing 32 km, challenging moments began. Nim Gyaltshen said that his feet were not moving properly. “I picked up a few peeled bananas from the roadside supporters, and started pushing myself on, telling myself that there were only 10km more to go.”
Grabbing a few more energy bars and drinks, he kept pushing on and tried to overcome the fatigue; poured cold water on his head.
“As I neared the last 2km, the finish line seemed to be getting further away and I felt like I had been running for ages,” Nim Gyaltshen said. “When I finally got to the finish line, I fell on the ground. After receiving some support from the volunteers and drinking some water, I felt like I was in Shangri-La.”
He said many elderly people are now living healthy life. “There is a lot of joy and happiness to be found in a healthy lifestyle.”
Sports development is very important in Bhutan and all must support it, he said. “Bhutanese by nature are hardworking and competitive. So I can see that there is great potential for us to excel in sports.”
Nim Gyaltshen aspires to participate in the six major marathons in Tokyo, London, Berlin, New York, and Boston. “To qualify for these Marathons, you need to first submit a good chip-time record and also undergo selection through lottery.”
Nim Gyaltshen is the co-owner of Etho Metho Tours and Trek.