Hiking in Bhutan is one of the best activities for sport-lovers with the stunning views along the trek, but it can be very challenging at the same time. But more than just trekking, you can take part in other sport events while on a tour with us. The two famous sport events that you can join in are the ‘Tour of the Dragon’ bike race and the ‘Bhutan international marathon and half marathon’, both organized by the Bhutan Olympic Committee. Get on a Bhutan culture tour or a Bhutan trek tour with us and we will help you to organize, so you can take part in the event before or after the trip.
Photo credit: Bhutan Olympic Committee
Tour of the Dragon’ Bike Race
‘Tour of the Dragon’ is held every year in September, and it is named the toughest one-day mountain bike race in the world. The start is in Jakar town, Bumthang (centre of Bhutan, at an elevation of 2,610m, or 8,560 ft), and the race will travel 268 km, over 4 mountain passes and the finish line is at the Thimphu town square. The ultra-marathon mountain bike race will guide you through the breathtaking view of Bhutan’s countryside and villages, through crop fields and verdant forests. Bhutan is blessed with high mountains and deep valleys, making the country a mysterious and tantalizing destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers.
First starting at Jakar town, riders follow the Bumthang Chuu (Bumthang river) for a few kilometers before passing blue pine forests to reach Kiki La at 2,870m (9,420 ft). The journey then continues to Nangar, Chumey and up to Gaytsha (2,950m, or 9,680 ft), with blue pine forests and crop fields along the way. After that, riders will climb 7km up to the Bong Bridge, and you will see mixed conifer and rhododendron forests before reaching Yotong La at an elevation of 3,430m (11,250 ft). From Yotong La, it is 29km of a downhill ride to Trongsa. Then you will head to Dorji Gonpa with open pastures and rock outcrops along the road. Below Dorji Gonpa, riders will be welcome with the view of agricultural fields and broadleaved forests. Take your time to enjoy the stunning sights of Trongsa before continuing on the road. From Trongsa, it is 7km to the Bjee Zam bridge, and 6km through broadleaved forests to reach a viewpoint so close to the Trongsa Dzong that it seems like just a stone’s throw away. The road continues on for 10km along cliffs, leading you to Tashiling. The last 20km before stopping at Chendebji village (2,430m, or 7,970 ft), the landscape is no longer dominated by broadleaved forests, and you will see hemlock along the ride.
From Chandebji heading to Wangdue Phodrang, you will be welcome with the view of mixed conifer forest past Nikachu bridge, and then to pastures and agricultural fields. Descending your way through fir, birch, rhododendron forests and beautiful small waterfalls, riders will continue on a flat stretch before seeing Wangdue Phodrang. On the road to Thimphu, Dochula is the highest point at 3,150m (10,330 ft) to be passed through. You will also race through Thinleygang, Lumitsawa, Lampiri and a memorial chorten for traffic accident victims. After that, it is all downhill to Thimphu (2,330m, or 7,640 ft) and riders will be at the finish line at the Thimphu city square.
If the world’s most challenging one-day bike race seems a bit too much for you, the ‘Dragon’s Fury Race ‘is a great alternative and the scenes are just as stunning. The Dragon’s Fury Race starts in Messina, Punakha and the race is 38.3km, all uphill, to Dochula. You will then continue on to finish at Thimphu town square after a small climb at the end, passing Thinleygang, Lumitsawa, Lampiri and a memorial chorten. The total distance for this race is much shorter with 60km.
Photo credit: Bhutan Olympic Committee
Bhutan international marathon and half marathon
The Bhutan international marathons are held annually in March. You will have the great views of Bhutan’s spectacular nature, peaceful and stunning countryside and villages, on your journey of 26.2 miles (42km) or 13.1 miles (21km).
The marathon starts at Tashi Thang village (Gasa Dzongkhag) and finish at the Punakha Dzong. The route is mostly rural, with 50% on hard pack dirt and the rest is on pavement. From the start line, runners will descend and follow the Mo Chhu (river) through the Punakha Valley. On the road, you will have the excellent views of the Khamsum Yulley Temple, monasteries, rice paddies, rain forests, villages and chortens. Runners will turn left off the main road approximately 0.5 mile (0.8km) before reaching the Punakha Dzong, take on a hard pack dirt track, and cross a small village and a cremation site. From the cremation site, it is about 7 miles (11.27km) to the finish line.
After climbing over a cattle barrier then up a short hill, you will cross a 300-foot long suspension bridge across the Pho Chhu. Make sure you take a moment to look out to the stunning view from the bridge! Following the road, runners then cross the Puna Tsang Chuu on a vehicle bridge and head north back to the Punakha Dzong, via the Khuruthang town. The beautiful Punakha Dzong is the finish of the race.
Half marathon route:
The half marathon starts at Sirigang village (Punakha) and finish at the Punakha Dzong, and the route is 40% on hard pack dirt and 60% on pavement. Following the trail along the Mo Chhu, you can see the rice fields, rain forests and Khamsum Yulley Temple. The route is 50% on pavement with some uneven surfaces. Then runners will be off the main road to get onto a paved road and a hard pack dirt track, and pass a cremation site. Getting off the suspension bridge to cross the Pho Chhu, the route continues on a short steep hill and about 3 miles on the hard pack dirt trail. You will see the last aid station, from where it will be a pavement road for the rest of the race. To reach the Punakha Dzong, runners will first cross the Puna Tsang Chhu vehicle bridge, and then head north for the finish line.
Be on the best Bhutan tours with Bhutan Pelyab Tours, get yourself fired up on the route and have a travel experience of a lifetime with Bhutan’s most famous sport events!