I had to train for half a year to feel like I could handle it, but the minute I read about Bhutan, I knew I’d have to make it a priority to at least run their half marathon.
I stayed in a simple bed and breakfast and enjoyed a couple of awesome days on either side of the run, and I was so glad I planned it that way. The culture is really rich and the ecology is pristine. I went on a couple of easy treks during my stay – although I preserved most of my energy for the run. My time wasn’t fantastic – it took me just over three hours to run the half marathon. I’ve seen better time at home, but not better scenery. The route was fantastic. It was made up of mostly compact dirt and concrete, but the surrounding area was covered in trees and other flora. Some of my fellow runners were obviously as much in awe as I was. (Although I envied the locals, who acted like there was not much to see!)
Other things I enjoyed while in Bhutan: the reverent atmosphere (it’s a very spiritual place, and they take the preservation of nature incredibly seriously), amazing food, really friendly people (particularly one guy, who took it upon himself to show me around for half a day and an evening while I was there), and a lot of self-discovery. What a trip.
Make sure you venture beyond the “tourist-friendly” hotel restaurants and find an authentic Bhutanese Ema Datshi (chilies and cheese) dish. It’s spicy a hell, but so good – and synonymous with the concept of Bhutanese food.