Thunder Dragon Marathon

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Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon, is mystical, enchanting and like nowhere you have ever been. Voted one of the world’s top travel destinations, Bhutan remains accessible only to the privileged few. The Himalayan Kingdom Mountain Marathon highlights all of the aspects of Bhutan that makes it so special. Running through the beautiful Paro Valley the route takes in fantastic scenery and passes many iconic landmarks, like the Tigers Nest Monastery, Paro
Dzong and many religious Chorten - a true mountain and cultural experience. Mostly on trails and mountain paths with some road sections, the route has a number of climbs but with an altitude variation that stays between 2,200m and 2,530m there are no tremendously difficult sections although it remains a suitable challenge.

The Route

The race route starts at Udumwara, underneath the cliff that the Tiger’s Nest is built on. The route isapprox. half road surface and half farm trails, on the full marathon there is a 4km section of single track.

The first 8km are on road surfaces and slightly downhill alongside the Paro Chu (river). At 8km the half marathon splits off to the right and makes its way up and behind Paro Dzong (Fort). The full marathon carries straight on with a long and gradual climb alongside the Wang Chu (river) on farm tracks above rice fields.

At 18km the marathon route crosses the river and returns towards Paro on the other side on a gentle downhill gradient to 25km. Here, the route has the toughest climb, for about 4km on road, rising above the Paro National Museum, then on single track for 1km to the highest point of the race at 2.560m.

Dropping back down to the Paro Chu the marathon and half marathon re-join beneath Paro Dzong to cross the famous wooden bridge. The last 10km for both distances are on a gradual but long uphill climb on a mix of road and wide farm track, rising above Paro Chu, with views of the river and rice fields, before dropping into the finish back at Udumwara.

The total height gain on the marathon is 995m and for the half 450m. The altitude at the start is 2.400m and the lowest point, in Paro Town, is 2,200.

 

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TUESDAY 18 MAY 2021

Arrival from Bangkok available at a supplement. Drive to Punakha via Dochu Pass (approx. 2.5 hours). Afternoon sightseeing in Punakha; visit the Devine Mad Monks Temple (Temple of Fertility) and the remarkable Punakha Dzong, past home to the King of Bhutan.
Overnight in Paro. Lunch, dinner.

WEDNESDAY 19 MAY 2021

Today we start our acclimatization activity with a hike to Soela Gompa via Khamsum Yuelley Nagyel Chorten. This hike is approx. 15km with a moderate level of difficulty but for some, about 5km of the initial clim will be on the difficult side. The hike will take around 8 hours. Options to return after visiting the Chorten for a shorten hike can be arranged. 
Overnight in Punakha. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

THURSDAY 20 MAY 2021

Drive to the capital city Thimphu (2.5 hours). Hike up to Buddha Point and the giant seated Buddha, the Takin Reserve (National animal), Thimphu Dzong and craft workshops. After lunch drive on to Paro (1 hour) visiting the National Museum with the chance to hike part of the marathon route before visiting Paro Dzong.
Overnight in Paro. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

FRIDAY 21 MAY 2021

Hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tigers Nest) 6 hours. On the way back visit Kichu Lhakhang Monastery.
Overnight in Paro. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

SATURDAY 22 MAY 2021

Free time for shopping in Paro.
Race day briefing.  
Overnight in Paro.

SUNDAY 23 MAY 2021: FULL & HALF MARATHONS

Early breakfast before 8am start of both races. Celebration dinner and cultural show at Olathang Hotel.
Overnight in Paro

MONDAY 24 MAY 2021

Fly out to Bangkok.