REFLECTIONS OF BHUTAN
From our 2017 – 2018 Director of USA Marketing and Development
BHUTAN INTERNATIONAL MARATHON — A TRIP OF A LIFETIME
Imagine bringing 108 people together with the common goal of running a marathon in a landlocked country in Asia. More than likely most people wouldn't be able to point to it on the globe. Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalaya’s eastern edge known for its monasteries, fortresses (dzongs), dramatic, beautiful landscapes, and now its International Marathon.
The dream for this trip began with the creation of the Sister Marathons Peace Initiative where 21 U.S. marathons joined together to bring peace and goodwill to the world through the sport of running. A large part of the group’s mission is to bring the world together by sharing the passion of running with the excitement of exploring other countries and cultures.
The flight to Paro — the only airport in Bhutan — was thrilling to say at least. The pilots are so highly skilled as they banked the plane to the right and then to the left maneuvering through the Himalayan mountains. Wow!
The first thing that I noticed when we landed in Paro was the pure beauty of the countryside, the mountains, and glacial rivers. In the days to come I discovered how genuine, kind and gracious the Bhutanese people were. Bhutan is known for being one of the happiest countries in the world, but I can contest the Bhutanese people are truly one of kindest people of the world.
I won't indulge you with all my wonderful experiences with the 7 days and 6-night trip of the lifetime. We visited three wonderful cities: Paro, Punakha, and the capital city of Thimphu, staying at first-class hotels nested in the mountains, experiencing the joy of Bhutanese cuisine, the hot stone baths and massages, the mountain treks, dinner with the Prince of Bhutan, and of course sharing these moments with one of the greatest ultra-marathon runners in the world, Scott Jurek.
I personally did not run the marathon, as those days are long gone, but I had a chance to see the race in action. The course is beautiful, the temperature was perfect, and where else would you be able to share the roads with a few cows.
We’re proud to report that we contributed over $200,000 to our in-country, non-profit partner, the Tarayana Foundation, helping to alleviate poverty in rural Bhutan. Further, we raised an additional $10,800 at our silent auction which featured the appearance of His Royal Highness Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, Prince of Bhutan.
I will end by saying that I was very proud to be a part of this cultural exchange and have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. The Bhutan International Marathon is a must for all adventure runners to experience for themselves.
2017 SISTER MARATHONS PEACE INITIATIVE BHUTAN RETREAT
The Fourth Annual Bhutan International Marathon in the Kingdom of Bhutan provided the Sister Marathons Peace initiative with an amazing backdrop for our first destination event. In all, 108 participants from 14 countries joined us in our global peace endeavor. We couldn’t have been more pleased by the outpouring of support in our first full year of operations.
Ultra-marathon legend and New York Times Bestseller, Scott Jurek, along with his lovely wife, Jenny and their baby daughter rounded out the group with exceptional presentations, group runs and one-on-ones that captivated the audience and locals alike.
Among our esteemed guests, Claudia Hanisch from Germany and Janine Canham from the U.K. made podium appearances in their respective women’s divisions. All of our participants finished the race, including some new personal records: Sharon Kerson from California finishing her 516th marathon; Lichu Sloan from New York finishing her 201st ; and Brent Weigner climbing the country marathon charts with his 124th country finish; and marvelously, the top five finishers of the Bhutan International Marathon were all Bhutanese!
The program would not have been complete without our generous race directors who flew halfway across the globe to join us. Don Kern from Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon, Sharron Faff from Kona Marathon, Gary Kutscher from US Bank OC Marathon; Mamie Wheeler from the Portland Marathon, Les and Karin Wright from the Maui Oceanfront and Lake Tahoe Marathons, and Louis Kushner from the DSG Pittsburgh Marathon all contributed significantly to making our first event a raving success! Our hats off to you all!
Our 2018 program to Bhutan is now in full swing…we hope to see you all in the Land of Happiness February 28 — March 6, 2018. Peace and goodwill.
FINANCIAL REPORT — BHUTAN PROGRAM
2016 / 2017 PROGRAM NET ASSETS = $4,306
2017 BHUTAN RETREAT DEMOGRAPHICS OVERVIEW