Bhutan – Thunder Dragon Marathon
Ace Adventure Expeditions - Singapore Partner of Thunder Dragon Marathon
The Thunder Dragon Marathon is one of the world’s most exclusive marathons. The race route is through the beautiful Paro Valley. Runners will get to see fantastic mountain scenery and iconic landmarks, such as the Tigers Taktsang Monastery (also known as Tigers Nest), Paro Dzong and many religious Chorten (shrines). It is truly an unique and memorable race filled with mountain and cultural experience.
Ace Adventure Expeditions is honoured to be the Singapore partner of the Thunder Dragon Marathon. The 7th edition race day is on 24 May 2020.
The 2020 Thunder Dragon Marathon is supporting Opening Your Heart to Bhutan. The charity is a UK-based charity which brings children with special needs joy and the opportunity to build meaningful lives. Through simple, practical acts of compassion, the charity provides access to safe medical care, disability aids and basic amenities in the isolated rural areas of East Bhutan.
Bonus Inclusions (for those based in Singapore) - Complimentary Group Training Sessions with Running Coach, Liew Wei Yong
Voted by Run Society as one of the best 16 running coaches in Singapore, Liew Wei Yong is certified in everything from sports management to personality/behavioural assessment, she has been training runners for 15+ years while competing in killer marathons like the Elite Ultra, Gobi and Sahara Desert runs. She is also overseeing training for the Four Seasons Hotel, HP, SWEAT and NTUC running groups. This feisty trainer always finishes marathons within the top 16 and prides herself on being placed first in the Women's Endurance category at the 2015 Sports Hub Stepper Challenge.
Bhutan – the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ - perched among the peaks of Eastern Himalayas has been described as the last Shangri-La. The tiny kingdom (second least populous nation in South Asia) shrouded in centuries of mystery is only beginning to open up in recent years to welcome more visitors. Landlocked, it is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh to the west and south. Being a Buddhist kingdom, it is well known for its monasteries and fortresses (or dzongs) and offers a fascinating insight into Buddhist culture. Coupled with its dramatic Himalayan landscapes range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys, Bhutan feels like a tranquil place, where time has stood still amidst landscapes of astounding and untouched beauty.
The Importance of Acclimatization - Thunder Dragon Marathon Packages
Bhutan's valleys are mostly just under 2500m and mountain passes are generally above 3000m. The total height gain on the marathon is 995m and for the half 450m. The altitude at the start point is 2400m and the lowest point, in Paro Town, is 2200m. It is, therefore, paramount to arrive a few days earlier than the race day to acclimatize to the high altitude.
One of the best approaches to acclimatization is keep active and Bhutan has some of the best trekking in the world. We highly recommend an easy trek through the scenic lower part of the Himalayas mountains ahead of the run. Trek & run Bhutan !
- 9D Druk (Dragon) Path Trek with Marathon
If you have more time to spare, you can also consider a trek in Nepal before the marathon. We can customize the itinerary for you.
For those who cannot afford so many days but would still like to join the marathon, these are 2 more options:
- 7D Day Hikes with Marathon
- 5D Bhutan Weekend with Marathon
Participants have the options to join these races:
- Full Marathon - 42.195km
- Half Marathon - 21.1km
The cut off time for the races is 8 hours but has some flexibility depending upon the weather conditions. All Runners who do not achieve the cut off will be picked up and driven to the finish line.
About Druk Path Trek
The Druk Path Trek is one of the most popular and shortest trek in the country. It is also a fairly easy trek that is a great introduction to trekking in Bhutan.
The trail passes through a gorgeous natural landscape of blue pine forests, high ridges and pristine lakes with stunning views of Mt Jomolhari (7326m) and Mt Gangkar Puensum ( 7570m / one of the highest unscaled peak in the world). At the same time, offers the opportunity to visit some ancient lhakhangs, dzongs and villages.
The trek connects the valley of Paro to the valley of Thimpu. The 4 days trek begins by walking up through apple orchards and pine forest past ruined Jele Dzong (fortress) on a high grassy ridge with breath-taking views of Mount Jumolhari to the north and camping at Jangchulakha (3760m) - a pasture for yaks. Day 1 is the longest day of the trek of about 7 hours. The next 3 days are short trekking days of around 4-5 hours. Day 2 and 3, we climb above the tree line and cross several high ridges of above 4000m, camping near alpine lakes - Jimilang Tsho (3870m) and Semkotha Lake (3834 m), with splendid views of Himalaya along the Bhutan – Tibet border. On the final day of the trek, we descent through pine and juniper forests via Phajoding Gompa to Thimphu.
Experience Required to Trek Druk Path
No trekking experience is required. Anyone with a good level of fitness can complete this trek. The trek will bring you to an altitudes ranging between 2400-4200m in undulating mountain terrain. You will be trekking for 4 days with a 5-6kg backpack load. The average trekking hours are around 4 hours, expect for day 1, which is the longest trekking day of around 7 hours.
Good to have some high altitude trekking experiences. You will be crossing high passes of above 4000m - Bhonte La (4890m) and Takhung La (4520m) and trekking at above 3000m in undulating mountain terrain with a personal backpack load of 5-6kg for the 6 days trek.
About The Thunder Dragon Marathon Race Route
The race route starts at Udumwara, underneath the cliff that the Tiger’s Nest is built on. The route is approx. half road surface and half farm trails, on the full marathon there is a 4km section of single track.
The first 8km are on road surfaces and slightly downhill alongside the Paro Chu (river). At 8km the half marathon splits off to the right and makes its way up and behind Paro Dzong (Fort). The full marathon carries straight on with a long and gradual climb alongside the Wang Chu (river) on farm tracks above rice fields.
At 18km the marathon route crosses the river and returns towards Paro on the other side on a gentle downhill gradient to 25km. Here, the route has the toughest climb, for about 4km on road, rising above the Paro National Museum, then on single track for 1km to the highest point of the race at 2.560m.
Dropping back down to the Paro Chu the marathon and half marathon re-join beneath Paro Dzong to cross the famous wooden bridge. The last 10km for both distances are on a gradual but long uphill climb on a mix of road and wide farm track, rising above Paro Chu, with views of the river and rice fields, before dropping into the finish back at Udumwara.
The total height gain on the marathon is 995m and for the half 450m. The altitude at the start is 2400m and the lowest point, in Paro Town, is 2200m
- Packages listed are for open international groups
9D Druk Path Trek with Marathon
|Day||Description||Meals||Altitude at Rest Point|
|Day 1||Arrive Paro||-/-/D||2200m|
|Day 2||Acclimatization hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tigers Nest/Hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tiger Nest/3120m). On the way back visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 3-6||For the next 4 days, trek the famous Druk Path trail. Day 6 drive to Thimphu for overnight.||B/L/D||Jangchulakha-3760m
|Day 7||Rest and sight-seeing day in Thimphu with an afternoon visit to the craft bazaar and weekend market before driving back to Paro. Race briefing in Paro.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 8||Race day. Celebration dinner in the evening after race.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 9||Depart Paro||B/-/-|
7D Thimphu and Punakha with Marathon
|Day||Description||Meals||Altitude at Rest Point|
|Day 1||Arrive Paro. Drive to Punakha||-/-/D||1200m|
|Day 2||Acclimatization hike in Punakha||B/L/D||1200m|
|Day 3||Drive to Thimphu (2.5hrs). Acclimatization hike up to Buddha Point and the giant seated Buddha and sight-seeing around Thimphu.||B/L/D||2330m|
|Day 4||Acclimatization hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest/3120m). On the way to Paro visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang Monastery.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 5||Free & easy day to explore Paro. Race briefing.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 6||Race day. Celebration dinner in the evening after race.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 7||Depart Paro||B/-/-|
5D Bhutan Weekend with Marathon
|Day||Description||Meals||Altitude at Rest Point|
|Day 1||Arrive Paro.||-/-/D||2200m|
|Day 2||Acclimatization hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest/3120m). On the way to Paro visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang Monastery.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 3||Excursion to Thimphu (1 hr drive). Visit the painting school, folk heritage museum, textile museum, Buddha Point, Takin Reserve. Afternoon visit to craft bazaar and weekend market before driving to Paro. Race briefing in Paro.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 4||Race day. Celebration dinner in the evening after race.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 5||Depart Paro||B/-/-|
- Return BKK/PRO/BKK air tickets, airline taxes and fuel surcharge
- Bhutan tourist visa fee
- Return airport transfer and all land transfer as in itinerary
- All sightseeing and entrance fees including Thunder Dragon Marathon's race fee
- Race t-shirt
- Meals as indicated in itinerary
- Twin/Trip sharing accommodation in standard local hotels outside of trek and in tents during trek
- Trek gear: Sleeping mats and bags, sleeping tents, dining tents, toilet tents and dinning tables and chairs
- Trek support: Climbing guide, assistant climbing guide and horses for portage support
- Boiled drinking water, tea and coffee during meals on trek
- Permits & fees: Trekking permit fee
- Comprehensive first aid kit carried by guide
- Complimentary training sessions with a professional running coach
- International air tickets for other routes, except as stated in "Inclusions"
- Single Supplement
- Meals not indicated in itinerary
- All tipping
- Personal porters
- Personal travel insurance (mandatory to cover travel agent insolvency, race and trekking up to 5000m)
- Personal expenses like shopping, laundry etc
- Personal travel & trekking gear – warm clothing, shoes, backpacks etc
- Compensation for damaged or lost of personal items (eg: climbing/trekking gear and equipment, cameras and any valuable items etc)
- Emergency evacuation and medical expenses
- Any expenses including accommodation, meals & transfer outside the stipulated trek/climb itinerary – i.e. any person leaving the group for personal travel, illness/injury or any form of extension of stay
3x Complimentary Group Run Training Sessions with Running Coach, Liew Wei Yong
Voted by Run Society as ine of the best 16 running coaches in Singapore, Liew Wei Yong is certified in everything from sports management to personality/behavioural assessment, she's been training runners for 15+ years while competing in killer marathons like the Elite Ultra, Gobi and Sahara Desert runs. She is also overseeing training for the Four Seasons Hotel, HP, SWEAT and NTUC running groups, this feisty trainer always finishes marathons in the top 16 and prides herself on a Women's Endurance first place at the 2015 Sports Hub Stepper Challenge.
Support from Ace Adventure Expeditions
We provide pre-trip support to prepare you for the run and trek:
1. Trip briefing and information kit
2. Gear list and gear discount from selected Singapore outdoor outfitters
3. Training guideline kit
4. Rope skill workshop (For climbs that require rope up and/or fixed rope skill)
We carefully select and establish strong working relationship with our local trek operator to ensure safe participation by everyone. Our local climbing guides have extensive experience in guiding treks in Bhutan, possess intimate knowledge of the local surroundings, conditions and culture. Our local operator is the organiser of the Thunder Dragon Marathon
Grading: Druk Path Trek: 1B
Training: Regardless of your level of fitness and physical conditions, it is advisable to train prior to embarking on a trekking or mountain climbing trip.
Druk Path Trek: 1B
Jomolhari Loop/Yaska Trek: 2B+
Pure cardiovascular fitness is NOT enough.
Focus your training effort in the following areas, assuming that you are in good health and injury-free:
- Climbing conditioning – stairs and load training.
- Cardio training - Jogging/running and interval training like CrossFit or HIIT.
- Strength training for the lower body, shoulder, back and core
- Flexibility training - eg: Yoga and stretching exercises
A good three to four months of training would be a good preparation for this trek.
A recommended training guide specific to the trek or climb will be given to you upon signing up.
Refer to our Grading chart for an overview on the technical difficulty and fitness required for this trek.
Refer to our Training Guide for tips on trekking and mountain climbing training.
For the marathon, focus your training effort in the following primary elements of marathon training, assuming that you are in good health and injury-free:
- Base mileage. Build your weekly mileage over time, running three-to-five times per week.
- The long run. Do a long run every 7–10 days so your body can adjust gradually to long distances.
- Speed work. Practice intervals and tempo runs to increase your cardio capacity.
- Rest and recovery. Adequate rest helps prevent injuries and mental burnout.
Most marathon training plans range from 12-20 weeks. Beginning marathoners should aim to build your weekly mileage up to 50-80km over the four months leading up to race day.