Snowman Race Secretariat organises virtual run

   Magdalena Boulet from USA qualified for the 2021 Snowman Race (Photo: Snowman Race Secretariat)


Magdalena Boulet from USA qualified for the 2021 Snowman Race (Photo: Snowman Race Secretariat)

Thinley Namgay 

The Snowman Race Secretariat introduced 40km virtual run during virtual athlete roundtable on October 13 to commemorate the ninth Royal Wedding Anniversary.

The run was to encourage running or walking at one’s own place and upload the record of the run.

This run is non-competitive and it has to complete before the birth anniversary of The Fourth Druk Gyalpo on November 11. Registration was opened at www.ultrasignup.com.

Other activities were also carried out by the Snowman Race Secretariat to celebrate this year’s Royal Wedding Anniversary.

Snowman Race Secretariat and Yellow Bhutan collaborated to encourage public to take part in the 9km and 300km run challenge. The 9km challenge was completed on October 13, but for the 300km the duration is until October 31.

Participants have to join the Yellow Running Club on Strava and login to one’s runs and mention ‘October Run Challenge’.

Addressing the virtual athletes roundtable, Snowman Race Secretariat’s Chairperson, Kesang Wangdi, said that the race was inspired by the vision and the personal example of His Majesty the King on conservation of nature, tangible and intangible cultural heritage.  “It is to bring world’s attention to climate change and its impact particularly for the people living in the fragile mountain ecosystem.”

The online meeting brought together world’s top athletes selected for the Snowman Race, which is going to take place next year coinciding with the 10th Royal Wedding Anniversary. Almost 30 ultra-runners will participate in the race.

The race, which will start from Gasa will challenge the runners to cover 300km in less than five days, taking them to elevation ranging from 2,850 metres to 5,470 metres before ending in Bumthang.

The runners will cross 11 passes, glaciers and two national parks – Jigme Dorji National Park and Wangchuck Centennial National Park.

Kesang Wangdi said that there was a need of joint effort from the global community to tackle climate issues. “Climate actions and Sustainable Development Goals are inseparable. Bhutan produce 1.5 million (M) tonnes of CO2 but we sequester 6M tonnes of CO2. In the next few years we could sequester 17M tonnes of CO2.”

He said: “Global temperature has increased by 170 times based on the pre-industrial records. Sea level rise, warming of ocean, oceanic acidity and glacier retreat are some of the climate issues. The question is how fast the climate change is happening.”

Seven Bhutanese runners took part in the five-day calibration Snowman Race last year from Gasa to Bumthang covering 300km. This was to assess the challenges involved and the areas of improvement in the first edition race.

One of the runners, Singye Dorji, said that route was very rough and one must be careful even while walking. “The race will be challenging. Second day was more tiring as we have to cover 67km and I took more than 12 hours on that day. We carried water. People believe that first timer will suffer from mountain sickness if resort to glacier and sea water.”

Capture app will be used by athletes and the organisers during the race to track the carbon emissions from the travel.

One of the founding participants and the ultra-runner, Matthew Chapman, said that all of them were driven by the ultra-distance mountain running. “The joy that bring us is people and now it is time to use this passion and skills to benefit the country and to draw the global attention for the climate actions. I am excited to be a part of this race next year.”

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