The Union Territory of Ladakh has created history by successfully conducting its maiden 21-km trail running event in sub-zero temperature at 13,862 feet high Pangong Tso, which was registered in Guinness world record as the world’s highest frozen lake half marathon.
Spread across the border of India and China, the 700-square kilometer Pangong Lake records a temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius during winter, making the salt water lake frozen with ice.
The four-hour long marathon started from Lukung and ended at Maan village on Monday with no injury reported to any of the 75 participants, Leh District Development Commissioner Shrikant Balasaheb Suse said.
Named as the ‘Last Run’ to remind the people about the climate change and need to save the Himalayas, the marathon was organised by the Adventure Sports Foundation of Ladakh (ASFL) in collaboration with Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, Tourism Department, Ladakh and Leh district administration.
“The first Pangong frozen lake half marathon is now officially registered in the Guinness book of world records,” Suse said.
He said besides spreading the message of ecological awareness among the stakeholders through sports, the marathon was also aimed at promoting sustainable winter tourism in border villages of eastern Ladakh to generate livelihood opportunities for residents especially in winters which is part of ‘vibrant village programme’ announced by central government.
The run was flagged off by Chief Executive Councillor, LAHDC (Leh) Tashi Gyalson. Five energy stations were set up along the route, consisting of energy drinks, medical teams and oxygen support, along with mobile ambulances.
The district development commissioner said all the participants underwent six-day acclimatisation — four days in Leh and two in Pangong — in accordance with the SOPs decided by the district administration. The participants were also subjected to medical examination to ensure that they were fit for running.
All medical centres along the route were equipped with trained personnel and equipment to tackle any medical emergencies, Suse said, adding the event saw active support from Indian Army and ITBP in terms of medical support and logistics.
Union Territory Disaster Response Force personnel and Ladakh mountain guide association personnel were deployed along the route to ensure safety of the runners. The route was decided after proper inspection and size of frozen layer of ice, the officer said.
He said the participants were allowed to run only after wearing safety equipment to avoid slipping on ice.
After the successful conclusion of the event, the runners were felicitated with medals and certificates, while cash prizes were also given to first, second and third place finishers in both men’s and women’s categories.
He said the event was recorded as ‘Highest Altitude Frozen Half Marathon’ and a certificate was issued by Guinness officials on the occasion to LAHDC Leh and ASFL.
“Congratulations, we have made it to the world record. Indeed a successful event inspired by Prime Minister @narendramodi’s #VibrantVillages Programme for border regions,” Gyalson tweeted.