Phurpa Lhamo | Gasa

A breastfeeding mother, a tshogpa, a police constable and a grandmother – women from all walks of life will compete for the 17.5kms run from Gasa Tshachhu to Gasa dzong today.

The run organised by the Snowman Race Secretariat is aimed at raising awareness on climate change and its issues, particularly the disaster caused by a landslide at Ri Druzhi killing 10 highlanders and the recent flood, which washed off Gasa Tshachhu.

The run is themed ‘Women Race for Climate.’

The participants are some of the fastest runners in their dzongkhags.

From Gasa, the winner of the Laya run in 2016 is 30-year-old Karma Yangden. The highlander said people in Laya were still worried of similar disasters.

She said that it was really important for people to know more about climate change as the impacts were felt every day in the highlands. “Climate has become more erratic now. It’s not like in the past and everyone says it’s different now. It is important to discuss that.”

The women are aged between 19 and 51 years old.

The oldest is a Thimphu resident, Vivi Tshering, 51. She has two grandchildren.

Although from Thimphu throm, she volunteered to represent Sarpang dzongkhag, as the dzongkhag could not send representatives because of the Covid-19 protocols.

Vivi Tshering started participating in marathons in 2016 when she was aged 46. She has continued her passion since then.

In the pre-snowman race selection held in April this year, Vivi was among the three women selected by the Snowman Race Secretariat to run for the main race scheduled this time, but it had to be postponed to October next year.

Vivi Tshering said that she came from a family of athletes. “I am passionate about running and have been participating in marathons. It is a really good thing because you really don’t compete with others but with yourself. I basically enjoy running.”

Samdrupjonkhar and Samtse dzongkhags also do not have representatives because of the Covid-19 protocols.

The youngest participant, Sonam Choki, 19, is representing Samdrupjonkhar dzongkhag.

She completed her class XII last year and has been an ardent marathon runner in her school days.

Sonam Choki stays in Wangdue, but was informed by a fellow participant about the run. She volunteered to represent the dzongkhag.

Tenzin Yangden, 23, from Bumthang would represent Samtse dzongkhag.

She said an official from the Snowman Race secretariat asked her if she wants to represent the dzongkhag.

The recent graduate of Royal Thimphu College has hiked and participated in marathons before.

Rigsum Lhamo, 32, is a police constable. She is representing Dagana dzongkhag.

Like many runners, she was also worried of altitude sickness and the steep route of the run. The runners will route through a maximum height of 3,150ms above sea level.

The Snowman Race Secretariat’s aim of bringing about bold and transformative changes through climate action, with an emphasis on mountain ecosystems and gender have been ensured with women local government representatives and breastfeeding mothers taking part in the run.

Chencho Zangmo, 31, is Bara-Zhungkharna chiwog’s tshogpa in Paro.

Among the runners, she is known as an active individual travelling and hiking due to her responsibilities.

Chencho Zangmo said that it was time to shed the idea that women had restricted capabilities. “With climate change aggravating drinking and irrigation water issues, women needed to understand the technical aspect of the solution and work towards it.”

A mother of two, Lachi Maya Mafchan, is representing Chukha dzongkhag.

Breastfeeding her one-year-old son, she said that excuses such as children and housework could be tackled if one made time for themselves.

She added that while having a child limited her practice, her interest in the run continued.

Lachi Maya Mafchan is a health assistant in one of the primary health centres in Chukha.

The run is part of the Snowman Race, which was conceptualised by His Majesty The King. The Snowman Race, which is the world’s top international event, will be held in October next year.

This year’s run is to commemorate the 10th Royal Wedding.

Edited by Tashi Dema