Stories From The Camp: The Ladakh Marathon
Can someone run all the way to Khardung La pass, the highest motorable road in the world? YES! This week the land of lamas hosted the Ladakh Marathon and our resident blogger, Rupert Winchester, was in complete awe of the participants. Read on to know why!
Photo Credits: Ladakh Marathon
Some of the guests who come up to Ladakh occasionally find themselves outside their comfort zone when it comes to day-to-day activities. Many of our guests are successful, driven high-achievers for whom the idea of taking a holiday is a slightly alien one.
We keep people busy up here, if they want to be. From visiting ancient monasteries, trekking across the high passes, camel rides in the dunes, mountain biking, oracle visiting and white-water rafting, there’s plenty to do on a daily basis.
And if you fancy something a little quieter, and a little closer to the camp, you can try archery or croquet, talk about gardening with our in-house team of Ladakhi gardeners, do absurdly complicated jigsaw puzzles, play chess or backgammon, or read a book from our wonderfully curated library. There’s bird watching, shopping, and just walking through the local villages.
But if that isn’t enough, and you have the urge to compete, to put yourself up against the elements and the altitude and really see what you’re made of, this weekend saw an event that might interest you: The Ladakh Marathon.
Billing itself as “a unique opportunity for runners from India and around the world to run with local Ladakhis through a high mountain desert region,” and “a way to encourage the young people of Ladakh to live a healthy lifestyle by taking up running, and by becoming more aware of the need to protect a stunningly beautiful, yet environmentally fragile region,” the races are among the very highest in the world in terms of altitude.
Sadly, this year, I wasn’t able to take part, as I had a, er, bad knee, but I got up to watch the runners stream past. And The Ultimate Travelling Camp staff got in on the act too, offering fruit and water to the runners as they pounded past.
This year, the fifth in which the event has been held, attracted some 5,800 runners from 29 different countries. The men’s winner was Shabir Hussein, in 3:06:07, and the womens’ race was won by Jigmet Dolma in 3:18:56. Well done to them both, for exceptionally impressive performances. There is also a half-marathon and a five kilometre fun-run.
The highlight race is the Khardung La Challenge, an ultra-marathon of 72 kilometres (44 miles), which crosses the fabled Khardung La Pass, at a height of 5,370 metres (17,560ft), and 60 km of the race is above 4,000 metres. In the past, this has been won in something over six hours. I’m beyond impressed.
So if you fancy a holiday with a purpose, come to Chamba Camp, Thiksey and run next year’s Ladakh Marathon. And afterwards, luxuriate in our super-comfortable beds, pamper yourself at our superior wellness centre and generally recover from your exertions. You’ll genuinely have earned it. Sadly, I foresee further knee problems in my future, but you’ll be fine, I’m sure.
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