Bhutan holds high-altitude race to highlight climate dangers | Inquirer News

Bhutan holds high-altitude race to highlight climate dangers

/ 12:46 PM October 13, 2022

bhutan climate change

A man with a child walks in front of the Gankar Punsun glacier at Dochula in Bhutan November 18, 2009. Picture taken November 18, 2009. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

KATHMANDU — Twenty-nine runners set off on a rare high-altitude race in Bhutan on Thursday to highlight the dangers of climate change to the Himalayan kingdom sandwiched between China and India, two of the world’s biggest polluters.

Bhutan, roughly the size of Switzerland, has forests covering 70% of its land, which absorb nearly three times more climate-changing emissions than the country produces a year.


“The race is designed to raise awareness about climate change and its risks to our economy and the livelihood of the people,” Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji told Reuters by telephone after flagging off the race in the northwestern town of Gasa.


Organizers said the runners would take five days to complete the 203 km (126 miles) Snowman Race from Gasa to the northeastern town of Chamkhar along a trail that normally takes trekkers up to 20 days.

South Asia’s only carbon-negative country, with a population of fewer than 800,000 people, is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which is speeding up the melting of its glaciers and causing floods and unpredictable weather patterns.

Pakistan, at the western end of the Himalayas, has this year been hit by unprecedented flooding caused by unusually heavy rain and faster run-off from its glaciers. Its government and the United Nations have blamed climate change.

The racers from 11 countries including the United States, Germany, Japan, Tanzania and Bhutan, will run at an average altitude of 4,500 m (14,800 ft), with a high point of 5,470 m (17,946 ft).

The route will take them through diverse terrain from sub-tropical jungle to fragile, high-altitude eco-systems, with diverse flora and fauna, as well as people and cultures.

“I’ve probably completed maybe around 30 ultra marathons, but never like this,” American runner Sarah Keyes told the state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service.


“It will be somewhat of an unknown going to that high of an altitude, but I do feel good overall, physically,” Keyes said.


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TAGS: Bhutan, environment

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