On October 13, 29 runners began one of the most remote races in the world, the inaugural snow raceOrganized by Kingdom Bhutan. A five-day high-altitude stage race isn’t just an endurance feat; Its purpose is to highlight the dangers of climate change in the small Himalayan kingdom, sandwiched between the world’s two largest polluters: India and China.
Bhutan is a high alpine country that is undergoing rapid change. Glaciers are melting, flooding valleys, destroying homes and villages. For context, Bhutan is roughly the size of Switzerland, or the states of Massachusetts and New Jersey combined.
“We will not sit on our hands and do nothing,” says Lothai Tsering, Bhutan’s prime minister. “We will fight climate change. Our protected areas are our lungs. Bhutan is one of only three carbon-negative countries, along with Panama and Suriname.”
Snowman Race follows the famous Snowman’s trek for 126 miles (203 kilometers), from the town of Gasa to the town of Chamkhar in northeastern Bhutan. Race courses across diverse terrains from jungles to fragile, elevated ecosystems to remote mountain villages. Snowman Trek’s trek is arduous, and adventurers usually take three weeks to complete. But very few of them do. To put it in context, more people have made it to Mount Everest.
Snow race in a nutshell
The 29 winners in this year’s race consist of nine Bhutanese runners and 20 international athletes – from the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, Tanzania, Switzerland and the UK – including previous winners of the Marathon of the Sands in Morocco, the finale to seven summits, and multiple winners in 100 miles is prestigious.