Snowman Race winner Gawa Zangpo witnessed climate change first hand

A 28-year-old Gawa Zangpo holds the title of the first ever Snowman Race winne; the world’s most challenging five-day ultra-marathon covering 203 km from Gasa to Bumthang. He competed against 17 competitors, including 12 international athletes.

Gawa said, “I was attracted towards the race, firstly because of my interest, and secondly, because the objective of the race, which is knowing about climate change, was very concerning. I wanted to be part of combating climate change. That is what pulled me into the race.”

He used to run during normal days whenever time permitted, but for the Snowman Race, he practiced hard for about a month. He never thought he would win the title as he was competing against many international athletes. His winning came to him as a surprise, he added.

He said, “I did not face major challenges throughout the race, however, I lost my way on the third day of the run as I was not so familiar with the route. Otherwise, everything went well.”

Talking through his personal experience, he shared that climate change is happening for real and at a rapid pace. During his visit to Lunana in 2017 he could witness mountains and communities covered in thick blanket of snow. But now, in just 5 years, snowfall has dwindled due to climate change and this was apparent during his run where he noted a lot of changes in the ice and snow cover.

It is disheartening to see things changing, which may have a greater impact on the settlement, people’s lives and the country as a whole. The issue is concerning, yet it is not something that can tackled overnight, he said, adding nations are in a difficult position to address the issue.

“I have no capacity to suggest anything, but I, personally, feel that if we are to tackle climate change, we have to take the responsibility at an individual level. Government should look forward to mitigating climate change with support from international agencies,” he added.

He said everyone should try to participate in the upcoming Snowman Races as that is for a good cause, and it allows participants to understand more on what climate change is and its impact.   

He said, “I thank His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen and the organizers, for giving me the opportunity to be part of it, and my family, friends and department for being supportive until the very end. Had it not been for them then I wouldn’t have come this far.”

 There were also 12 female competitors running in the race including 8 international women athletes.

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