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Ladakh hosts ‘world’s highest frozen lake marathon’ on Pangong Lake

At an altitude of 14,273 feet and amidst heavy snowfall, runners braved temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius to make a statement on the urgency of saving the environment

In the breathtaking heights of Ladakh’s Pangong Lake, a remarkable event unfolded – the world’s highest frozen lake marathon. This extraordinary race, known as ‘theastrun,’ drew 120 passionate runners from seven countries. It wasn’t just a test of endurance; it was a call to action against the looming threat of climate change.

Organized jointly by the Adventure Sports Foundation of Ladakh, with support from the Administration Union Territory of Ladakh and the 14 Corps of the Indian Army, this marathon was more than just a sporting event. It was a bold statement about the urgent need to safeguard our environment. At an altitude of 14,273 feet and amidst heavy snowfall, runners braved temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius to make their stand for the planet.

This year marked the event’s second edition, with a clear message resonating – this might be the last run on the frozen lake. Climate change is rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers, posing a grave threat to ecosystems and livelihoods. Through ‘theastrun,’ organizers aimed to shed light on this pressing issue, urging global attention and action.

world's highest frozen lake marathon
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But the marathon wasn’t just about raising awareness; it was also about fostering sustainable winter tourism. As part of the Centre’s ‘Vibrant Village Programme,’ the event sought to promote development in border villages while preserving their natural beauty and cultural heritage. Secretary of Sports, Ravinder Kumar, graced the event as the chief guest, emphasizing the importance of such initiatives in driving holistic growth.

Participants took on the challenge in two categories: 21 kilometers and 10 kilometers. Each step they took was not only a personal triumph but also a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the planet. The inaugural marathon held last year had already made history, earning a spot in the Guinness World Records as the world’s highest frozen lake half marathon. This year’s event aimed even higher, both metaphorically and literally, in its quest for environmental advocacy.

Amidst the thrill of the race, the marathon also showcased the vibrant culture of Ladakh. Spectators were treated to colorful cultural performances, providing a glimpse into the region’s rich traditions. Additionally, a display of local cuisine, handloom, and handicrafts highlighted the unique heritage of the area, further enriching the experience for participants and visitors alike.

As the runners crossed the finish line and the echoes of their feat reverberated across the frozen expanse of Pangong Lake, the message was clear – united action is needed to confront the challenges of climate change. In the face of adversity, these runners exemplified resilience, determination, and a deep sense of responsibility towards the planet.

The success of ‘theastrun’ goes beyond the medals won or records broken; it lies in its power to inspire change. By harnessing the spirit of adventure and competition, this marathon has become a beacon of hope in the fight against climate crisis. As long as there are individuals willing to run for a cause greater than themselves, there remains hope for a sustainable future.

You might also be interested in – India’s first-ever scientific exercise discovers 718 snow leopards, Ladakh boasts highest population

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