Ladakh Frozen Lake Half Marathon
The Mature Runner
By David Summerfield
Looks like I can’t help myself (again) – here’s yet another world record that just happened Feb. 20, 2023. This one shows to what extent others will go to make it into the ‘ole Guinness Book of World Records. Get this: this Feb. 20, 75 people showed up to run the inaugural “highest elevation half marathon on a frozen lake,” full well knowing they were assured by the Guinness people they’d make it into their record books. And they did take all the necessary steps to assure they’d make it. Evidently, the Everest Marathon is the “highest” marathon on the planet (starting out at 17,572’ and going down to 11,647’ at the Namche Bazaar). And their Everest Half Marathon starts at 14,419’ (at Dingboche) and also ends at the Namche Bazaar – 11,647’. So the Ladakh Frozen Lake Half had to figure something else out. To make sure their category would stand the test of time, this 1⁄2 marathon was completely run on a frozen lake at 13,862’, so, there’s the challenge. Yes, the Everest Half started out higher, but went down over 2,000’ lower than in Ladakh. You have to go find another frozen lake higher than 13,862’ if you want to get a record in the Guinness Book. But, I’m not really trying to tear down the accomplishment of a noble event. It does sound amazing, and sure, I’d like to do it someday … maybe. The “package” is similar to the Antarctic Marathon ($21,000 fee for a week-long expedition) and this one includes a mandatory 6-day stay at altitude to prevent elevation sickness. And the total package is 8-nights, 9 days at an advertised cost of Rs46,500, or $563.00. Everyone is required to wear “safety gear” (grippers for the ice). They say the average winter temperature is -22 Fahrenheit. Seems doable!
Frozen Pangong Tso Lake – bangla.latestly.com.
This event is held in the Union Territory of Ladakh, an area at the border of China and India. The lake (Pangong Tso) is salt water, and does freeze over in the winter. This event was started this year to help raise awareness about the area, to bring in much needed tourist dollars, and to help the local inhabitants have something fun and interesting to do in the middle of winter, which is obviously pretty harsh. The half-marathon started in Lukung and ended at Maan village. The organizers dubbed the race “The Last Run,” hoping to remind people that climate change is happening, and they are wanting to save the Himalayas.
So, can we do something of this sort for raising awareness in Montana about climate change? For this wintertime, it does seem like a stretch to discuss climate change (meaning the warming of the climate, the melting of the glaciers, rising sea levels). As I write, I’m overlooking the Beartooth Mountains above Nye, with a low of -27 last night as snow fell and flew around for a typical February 3-day storm. Most of us have already forgotten about last month’s record high temperatures, no precipitation, etc. So, all that’s happening is watching Mother Nature’s way of making up for lost time. But the scientist’s predictions keep getting proven every year – the glaciers are disappearing, the Antarctic ice is splitting up, and it does appear that the climate is changing. Hosting this far-flung frozen lake 1⁄2 marathon I’m sure was mainly spurred on by the tourist dollars will improve the financial condition of the area. They say it is also for promoting sustainable winter tourism. It did help to have the presence of the world press taking pictures, spreading the word about something unique to do – it’s exotic and something new for those with ready cash. Sigh. I know the Ridge Run in Bozeman helps the local economy, and it gives us all something quasi-exotic to do each summer. In Ladakh, climate change would ultimately keep the lake from freezing, so they might be right, it could become the “Last Run.” I can’t foresee the “Last Bridger Ridge Run”coming any time soon. I guess the way that could happen would be to have such devastating forest fires, that the event would be postponed indefinitely until Montana would stop having forest fires. That’s just something to think about 🙂
Stuti Bakshi wins and gets a world record timesofindia.com.
While writing this, the results just came in from the Ladakh 1⁄2 marathon held yesterday. It was won by a 30 year-old woman, Stuti Bakshi. She was the only woman from Gujarat in the event, which had 100 participants. And, being the 1st woman to cross the finish line, obviously she has a world record1 Out of the 100 participants, nine were women; four were from Ladakh, and the rest were from other parts of India. It was reported that she finished in 4 hours (sounds a little suspicious – maybe all finishers ended up with a “4 hour” finish time). Stuti reported strong headwinds, and then equally strong tailwinds. Pictures show a rather glare, smooth, shiny ice surface, but she said it was very uneven, never flat, and very hard to run on. Also, all the entrants did a “training run on Sunday, just to test out their equipment so they could make adjustments. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a ‘trial” Ridge Run the day before, just to make sure all your equipment (food, water, clothing, shoes) were ready to go, so you wouldn’t have to get up so early on race day?
And while we’re talking about “frozen lake” Marathons, googling it revealed there are such events all over the world. They don’t get any Guinness recognition, since they aren’t that high in elevation, but look into the Balkai Ice Marathon, in Eastern Siberia. They claim it is on the largest and deepest lake on the planet (larger than all the Great Lakes put together). This is a full marathon, and would be a good reason to enter Russia, right? The cost is only $875.00, with an elevation of 1440’. I guess the cold is the only challenge at this one. And you better enter right away, the race date is February 27th … oh, this newsletter doesn’t come out until March 1. Well, keep it in mind for next year 🙂 I’m not sure of the allure of running on a frozen lake, unless it’s just the novelty of it all, which means you’ve run out of interesting things to do (pun intended). With that, I hope you all can find fun adventures for March right here in Montana!