209 Events

Thunder Dragon Marathon & Half Marathon, Bhutan

Date: 28th May, 2017

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. Nestling between Tibet and India it is a country of raw natural beauty; from stunning mountain scenery to tropical plains. This pristine scenery is home to exotic wildlife and is one of the last refuges of species like the Black-Necked Crane, the Golden Langur and even the Royal Bengal tiger.…

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.

Nestling between Tibet and India it is a country of raw natural beauty; from stunning mountain scenery to tropical plains. This pristine scenery is home to exotic wildlife and is one of the last refuges of species like the Black-Necked Crane, the Golden Langur and even the Royal Bengal tiger.

The Bhutanese people with their Buddhist beliefs have a strong sense of identity and of the interdependence between man and nature. This is expressed in the national policy of Gross National Happiness and concern for the environment.

We are very priviledged to be able to organise one of the most exclusive marathons in the world in conjunction with Bhutanese Tour Operator Blue Poppy.

The Thunder Dragon Marathon highlights all of the aspects of Bhutan that make it so special. Running through the beautiful Paro Valley the route takes in fantastic scenary 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

From the start at Zhiwa Ling, the first few kms are down hill on the road before crossing a metal bridge festooned in prayer flags. It then follows the Paro Chu River downstream where runners are at 2200m altitude. The route remains undulating along the Wang Chu tributary - going up one side for several kms, crossing a bridge and returning down the other side.

Arriving back on the road near Paro you will then climb steadily up the side of a valley passing above Paro Dzong, and up to Zueray Dzong at the highest point of the race (2530m) on a 4km road climb followed by 1km gently up hill on forest trails. From here you start to drop to the valley passing through Uma Resort (2413m).

Dropping back to the river, the 21km will finish after crossing the ornate Paro Bridge in front of Paro Dzong while the marathon continues across the valley on road.

Once across the valley the marathon route then rises up on the road for 3km up to 2,400m, followed by a short climb on a wide track before picking up forest trails along a line of Chortens festooned with prayer flags. A short but steep climb at 30km on road takes you onto trail around a spur before dropping and rising on a number of side valleys. At 32km there is an amazing section through paddy fields bringing you close to rural Bhutan before a final loop with incredible views of the Tigers Nest as you approach the finish line back at Zhiwa Ling.

The first half of the race is easier than the second half with long sections of flat to undulating running on the gravel trail of the river banks. The 21km finishes on the waters edge. This makes the 21km suitable for all runners and run/walkers regardless of pace as there is no cut off time

The marathon continues with one longish climb between 21 and 25km, where runners are rewarded with fantastic views up the valley before the drop to the Paro Bridge, you pass through the south of Paro Town before a second climb through Olanthang with the remainder of the route undulating through forest and small villages.

Cut off time for the marathon is 8hrs but with some flexibility depending on weather conditions. Transportation from the finish back to the start is provided for 21km runners and spectators - the marathon starts and finishes at the same place at Zhiwaling.

MORE INFORMATION

Make it a Double with the Great Wall of China

Or make this a double Adventure with the Himalayan Kingdom Marathon - double up on a full Great Wall Marathon 6-night package with fights and we will fly you to Bangkok for 1 night in before going on to Bhutan for the 6-Night Himalayan Kingdom Marathon package. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS OF THE GRAND TOUR.

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