The Bhutan International Marathon is held in February each year. Hundreds of participants from over 200 countries have taken part in the one-day event, running either the full or half marathon.
The 21km half marathon begins from Khabisa to Punakha dzong and the 42km full marathon starts from Tashithang in Gasa.
For the winners of the half marathon it takes less than two hours to cover the distance, and for the full marathon it takes less than three hours.
The race usually begins in the morning at 8am and the route covers an altitude ranging from over 4,000 feet to over 6,700 feet above sea level.
The age range of the participants so far varies from as young as 11 years old to those in their 70s. The participants are usually a mix of first-timers to professional long-distance runners and marathoners.
Following the Mochhu river through the Punakha valley, both marathons end at the medieval fortress, Punakha dzong, the setting of the Royal Wedding.
But before you get there, the marathon provides a run through and across enchanting countryside and villages and the rain forest. The winter yet to retreat the air is crisp and cool. It is the best time to run. Summer heat, especially in Punakha can be intense.
The full marathon route is mostly through rural communities with half of it being dirt road and the other half pavement. The terrain is mostly flat.
The half marathon route has about 40 percent hard pack dirt and the rest is pavement. The terrain is similar with mostly flat to rolling surface.
One of the highlights of the run, is a 300 feet long suspension bridge across the Phochhu.
The fund raised from the event is donated to Bhutan’s Youth and Olympic Sports program. The event is organised by the Bhutan Olympic Committee.
About a decade back, the full marathon was from Paro to Thimphu and the half marathon from Khasadrapchu to Changlimithang.