Bhutan to host the world’s toughest race


The race will cover a distance of 222 kilometres through difficult terrain, majestic mountains, and lofty glaciers.

This 13 October 2022, Bhutan will see 30 runners compete in the Snowman Race. The Snowman Race is a high-altitude ultra-marathon that takes participants through the immensely difficult Snowman Trek. 

22 international runners and eight local Bhutanese runners — the world’s fittest and most elite of their kind — are participating in this gruelling endeavour. 

The Snowman Trek that the race will follow covers a distance of 222 kilometres over high-altitude terrain, starting from Gasa and ending in Bumthang. The runners will ascend and descend difficult terrain, majestic mountains, and lofty glaciers. Typically, a regular Joe takes 20 days to walk the distance. 

The trail is no walk in the park. Certain portions are located beyond 5,000 metres above sea level. 

During the Snowman Race, runners will be tracked with a real-time GPS Live tracking system, an offline GPS app, and route markers. Similarly, health facilities, emergency services, halting points, and a weather forecasting team will be on duty throughout the race.

The goal of the race is to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change. The run was initially scheduled to take place in 2020 after the trial run in 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic rendered it impossible. However, better late than never. Two years later, the spirit of the race remains, which is to advocate for the global community to take climate change more seriously and come up with actionable solutions.

On top of that, the Snowman Race is expected to boost tourism in the country. As the race gains visibility, naturally, Bhutan will gain recognition too.

So you’re not an elite runner. That does not mean you cannot complete the Snowman Trek too

However, you are required to be of a certain level of fitness. As previously impressed, trekking the Snowman Trek is no easy feat, but completing the trail will certainly give you bragging rights, as more people are climbing Mount Everest than those who finish Snowman Trek! 

The trail is without a doubt the most remote and epic track of the Himalayas. You’ll get the chance to sight some of the world’s rarest wildlife, including snow leopards. 

Rare wildlife and bragging rights aside, the jewel of the crown is the breathtaking scenery: the magnificent views of Mount Jomolhari, Mount Jichu Drake, Msangang, Tiger Mountain, and Gangkar Puensum will be at your disposal. 

During the hike, you will cross twelve mountain passes and wander through Laya and Lunana, which are among Bhutan’s most remote regions and home to semi-nomadic tribes. 

Lunana Village is home to the Lunaps, who are believed to have fled from Tibet centuries ago. The Lunaps brought with them the clothes on their back and their livestock. Until today, they continue to remain in the herding business, thus if you come across the friendly yak herders tending their herds, don’t forget to wave hello! The Lunaps also have good knowledge of medicinal flora, including on the usage of Cordyceps, the outstanding fungus. Experience their unique culture as you traverse through the territory. 

Recently, a Bhutanese film titled Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best International Feature category. The movie follows the journey of a young Bhutanese teacher Ugyen Dorji (played by actor Sherab Dorji) who was forced to relocate to Lunana Village to serve out the remainder of his teaching contract. 

Left without a choice, he postponed his dream of becoming a singer in Australia and took the arduous journey from Thimphu into the secluded Lunana. He endured a long van ride, a five-day trek, sleeping in caves, and finally arrived at the valley where the total population was 50 people. There was no electricity. More interestingly, there was a yak in the classroom, put there by a young woman from the village who wanted the teacher to understand the relationship the people had with their yaks; the yak was also supposed to provide the teacher with highly valuable yak dung to warm his home.

The movie, shot in Lunana Village itself, is powerful, especially the iconic line by a student when he earnestly relayed that he wants to become a teacher when he grows up because he wants to “touch the future”.

Watch this profound film and experience the location where it was filmed for yourself.

If you're residing in Singapore, you can also catch this heartwarming film on the big screen on 3rd September. Find out more information about Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom screening in Singapore.

Book your 28 days 27 nights Snowman Trek hiking tour now.

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