Ladakh, the beautiful and serene region in India, is set to host the country’s first-ever frozen-lake marathon, the ‘Last Run’, on February 20. The marathon, with a 21-kilometre route starting from Lukung and ending at Maan village, will see 75 selected athletes from India and abroad participate in the run and make a bid for a Guinness world record for the world’s highest frozen-lake marathon.
The marathon, being organized by the Adventure Sports Foundation of Ladakh (ASFL) in collaboration with the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Leh, the Tourism Department, and the Leh district administration, is aimed at spreading awareness about the issue of climate change and sustainable development. The Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) have been roped in to ensure the success of the event by implementing a proper action plan.
The 700 square meter Pangong Lake, located along the border of India and China, records a temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius during the winter months, causing it to freeze over. The lake has been chosen as the venue for the marathon as it offers a perfect backdrop to spread the message of environmental conservation and promote tourism in the region.
The selected group of 75 athletes, including 50 from outside Ladakh, four international runners, and local athletes who have represented the region at the national level, will undergo mandatory acclimatization, including a three to four-day stay in Leh, to overcome high-altitude sickness. The participants will undergo a medical check-up one day prior to the event and the entire 21-kilometre stretch will be covered by medical teams. The district administration is also prepared for air evacuation in case of an emergency.
District Development Commissioner, Leh, Shrikant Balasaheb Suse, spoke about the preparations and the efforts being made to make the event a success. “All necessary arrangements have been worked out for the success of this challenging event being organized with a message of sustainable development and carbon-neutral Ladakh. All stakeholders are on board. The Indian Army and the ITBP were also roped in to execute a proper action plan,” he said. He also added that the recce of the entire 21-kilometre lake stretch is being undertaken jointly by the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), the Indian Army, and the ITBP in close coordination with other stakeholders.
ASFL founder Chamba Tsetan spoke about the significance of the event in a short video. He said that the event was named as the ‘Last Run’ to give a message to the world about the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers due to global climatic change. “If you are really an environment enthusiast or adventure lover, this trip is for you…we are also attempting to set the Guinness world record for the world’s highest frozen-lake marathon,” Tsetan said.