Overall Rating
Overall Rating (3 Reviews)
4.3
(3 Ratings)(3 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
4.7
SCENERY
4.7
PRODUCTION
4.3
SWAG
4
Bhutan or Druk Yul (the land of the Thunder Dragon) as it is known in Bhutanese, is mystical, enchanting and like nowhere you have ever been. This tiny Himalayan kingdom nestling between Tibet and India is a country of raw natural beauty and dramatic landscapes that range from sub-tropical plains … MORE
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Recent reviews

    jrohlede FIRST-TIMER '19

    Did the full marathon at a power walk due to knee issues. It was a good course to power walk because thru most of the course running for the average … MORE

    Did the full marathon at a power walk due to knee issues. It was a good course to power walk because thru most of the course running for the average marathoner was next to impossible. But to the beginning.

    Race is sponsored by 209 out of Britain. They also offer pre race trekking packages prior to the race. There are different length packages available. We chose the longest – 5 days trekking in the Himalayas. For an older runner the trekking was both exciting and exhausting. Spend the first 3 days trekking 5 to 12 miles a day climbing to 14,200 feet and camping in pup tents in sometime freezing temps. Next day and a half are spent coming down the mountains thru large rocky and gravelly trails. Then we had a whole day off to prepare for the marathon.

    The race….
    Stayed in a hotel right near the start. Race day weather was nice. Little warm but not killer. Walked right down to the start line.

    Race started on time. 8 hour somewhat enforced time limit. More on that later…

    Miles 1 thru 8. Mostly downhill thru town. About mile 4 over a suspension bridge. Bouncy and fun. So far so good.

    Miles 9 thru 13
    About mile 9 we branch off from the half marathoners. Start a gradual climb thru the Bhutan countryside passing scattered homes and really nice scenery.

    Miles 13 thru 15
    Mostly downhill along a river front. Sun was now fully up and temps were becoming pretty intense. Trying to figure out how to veer off and take a dip in the river but decide not to.

    Miles 15 thru 19
    Welcome to Bhutan’s version of marathon hell. Back to the 8 hour time limit note. A day before the marathon we drove this part of the course in a bus. It contained 5 or 6 switchbacks that were so steep that the bus could barely make it up them. When they told us we had to run them I thought they were kidding. I revised my finish time from 5 to 6 hours to 6 to 7 hours.
    So started the switchbacks with 2 much younger runners. Made very very slow progress but finally made it to the top of the switchbacks and headed into the woods for more steep steep single trail rocky climb. Finally made it to the top of the mountain and then started down. Was thinking the mile and half downhill would be easy. No such luck. Was so steep and rocky about every half mile they had young girls there to assist you over the rocks and to be sure you don’t fall over the side. But finally made it down. The two young guys I were with had disappeared. Last I saw them they had quit and were being shuttled back to the start line on the bus.

    Miles 19 thru 21
    On the road in the heat with traffic. Ugh

    Miles 21 to finish.
    Gradual climb back up mimicking the first 5 mile downhill start. Finally hit mile 26. Last .2 miles downhill.

    Just as an FYI on the difference between the first and second half. My times – first half -2:58. Second half – 4:23.

    So for a good workout / run do the half. For a exhausting self satisfying trek do the full.

    As for the volunteers / race production / staff – everything and everybody were great. The 209 staff ran a great race as far as I know that was glitch free.
    Our guides and fellow runners thru Marathon Tours handled all issues. We had no complaints what so ever.
    Host hotel was extra supportive.
    But best of all was spending 6 days in Bhutan and with the Bhutanese people. If there are any nicer people don’t know who they are. The country and people were the highlight of the trip. Finishing the marathon was just icing on the cake

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Fitbrit FIRST-TIMER '19

    I don’t have all the stats exactly but I will do my best to recount my race experience. Race morning started with breakfast at our nearby hotel. There are several … MORE

    I don’t have all the stats exactly but I will do my best to recount my race experience.
    Race morning started with breakfast at our nearby hotel.
    There are several hotels near the start and finish area.
    Ours was the Ravens nest just a 6 minute walk to the start.
    Walking back up the hill takes a bit longer.
    The original race time was scheduled for 9:00 am which got charged the night before to 8:30 am due to a possible weather concern.
    The race start was warm and sunny.not sure what the temperature was maybe 60 F.
    Around 75 International runners joined I believe around 120 local Bhutanese runners for both distances the half and full.
    Bhutanese women were only allowed to run the half and the men were only allowed to run the full.
    I would like to see that changed and let each sex decide what’s right for them.
    Before the race 4 Buddhist Monks say a prayer which was very cool.
    The race starts and we run on the road a slight downhill but I couldn’t tell that much. The roads are not closed for the race so traffic runs along side you.
    The elevation chart wasn’t given to us but I think the start of the race is above 7,500 ft possibly closer to 8,000ft.
    It was definitely hard to breathe the first hour or so. This wasn’t going to be a fast course.
    The best you can do is go out slower and check your heart rate doesn’t get too high too quickly.
    Within a mile or so we turn left and cross a suspension bridge.
    It sways a little and felt a little unstable.
    As a woman passed me I over balanced and put my hand out onto the rail. Unfortunately it was thick barbed wire and I punctured my hand. My hand was covered in blood but a volunteer gave me a tissue at the end of a bridge.
    I think the organizers should warn the runners it’s not a rail you can actually hold on to.
    Ok across the bridge and all the blood cleaned up. Down along the river for about 4.5 miles. Around that time we turn again following the yellow ribbons.
    As an avid trail runner , I’m used to ribbons on the right means turn right . Ribbons on the left means turn left . Nope not in this race , ribbons are random and it was confusing which way we were heading. I know of at least one person who took an hour detour.
    For most of the race I could follow someone up ahead but there were times I was on my own and it was confusing where to go.
    There are lots of high school kids helping but you might have to ask which way as opposed to them pointing the way.
    Water, bananas and some juice is offered quite often.
    There are hills and more than I expected. Those I found hard to run up I simply couldn’t breath.
    By midway we had a few sprinkles of rain and the clouds cooled us off .
    Altitude is enough of a challenge but adding heat , well that’s a bit much.
    By the way I was signed up for the full initially but we had been on a 5 day hike all week up in the mountains which trashed my shoes.
    I wore a pair of shoes that I brought just to walk around after the race . They were Nike Air, very light but not good for trail running.
    However my choice was a pair of Tevas or a pair of shoes I hadn’t ran in before.
    They held up ok but the trail part, a few miles at least was challenging.
    So the hills are midway to the end.
    The last Km or half mile is downhill.
    There are cows on the course , traffic and 2 bridges.
    You cross the river twice and it’s a quiet run. No spectators just random people going about their business.
    I thought all things considered I did OK but I did have some exercise endured asthma for the rest of the day.
    I haven’t had that for almost 20 years.
    There is a warm welcome when you finish with a large tent to sit in out of the sun.
    The medals came out late for the faster runners. Not sure why that happened. For the midway runners , they all got their medals at the finish line.
    Water and juice is given at the finish line. Lunch is offered in the hotel.
    I would have like iced water or coke at the finish. Every drink was warm after sitting in the sun all morning.
    Overall I enjoyed the race. The local runners whom I ran with , were very friendly and chatted with me.
    If you are thinking to run the full, this is a challenging course. Train well.
    Awards are given to the top Male / Female and only the top finisher age 50-59 , 60-69, 70-79.
    There was a tech shirt and a white cotton shirt given to each runner , which I declined. I kept the tech shirt and the scarf.
    This race is organized by a company in Great Britain and there is a charitable cause you can become involved in.
    I did enjoy this race but definitely enjoyed the hike , overall trip a lot more.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

    1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

    PeteSinCA Jun 02, 2019 at 2:48pm

    Per that great Internet resource, W'pedia, the altitude for Paro is 7200 feet. That makes a very great impact on one's performance! Kudos for making it work!

    Per that great Internet resource, W'pedia, the altitude for Paro is 7200 feet. That makes a very great impact on one's performance! Kudos for making it work!

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    Fitbrit Jun 02, 2019 at 4:49pm

    According to one of the runners watched we started up the hill and we ran down , although it didn’t feel like a hill at all. It was above 7,500… MORE

    According to one of the runners watched we started up the hill and we ran down , although it didn’t feel like a hill at all. It was above 7,500 ft. In any case , it got your lungs a good workout. Ribs and chest hurt the following day. LESS

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    PeteSinCA Jun 04, 2019 at 6:31am

    Looking at it in Google Maps Satellite View, I can see the city kind of follows a valley between mountains, so the "official" elevation is probably on the valley floor,… MORE

    Looking at it in Google Maps Satellite View, I can see the city kind of follows a valley between mountains, so the "official" elevation is probably on the valley floor, while the city kind of climbs up the sides of several mountains. My daughter attends university in Xining, elevation 7200 feet. I've asked her to look into local runs, hoping to visit when she graduates and maybe do a 5K or 10K. The altitude has me pretty concerned (I'm in my mid-60s). LESS

     
    Jeff2u REPEAT RUNNER '18

    I first traveled to Bhutan to run the Thunder Dragon Marathon last year. I enjoyed the race and unique Himalayan Kingdom travel experience so much that I brought clients with … MORE

    I first traveled to Bhutan to run the Thunder Dragon Marathon last year. I enjoyed the race and unique Himalayan Kingdom travel experience so much that I brought clients with me this year. I was happy to see the following client comments echoed my first impressions from a year ago.
    – Loved the course….it was difficult but so so so enjoyable….the scenery was spectacular… the single track was FUN! Course markings were excellent, rest stops plentiful
    – Well supported ESPECIALLY for such a small run, and great hat and shirts.
    – Many volunteers along the course and aid stations at the right locations.
    – The pre-race Buddhist blessing, the local runner’s enthusiasm and the scenery all combined to create a very spiritual experience.
    – Terrific job sharing photos

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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