[singlepic=649,190,,,right]An auspicious 123 runners raced in the Himalayan Guide Marathon 2013, co-sponsored by Red Panda Network and its Disney Red Panda Community Conservation Awareness project in Taplejung, eastern Nepal. Among them were 103 male runners competing in the full marathon and 20 female runners in the half-marathon. This is one of the toughest high-altitude marathon+ races in the world, climbing over 2,000 m (6,400 foot) elevation difference up to the famous Pathibhara temple peak at 3,794 m (12,447 ft) and back down to Taplejung. It is a marathon+ with over 49 km/30.4 miles, which is 4 miles more than a standard marathon.

[singlepic=648,190,,,right] And the winners are:

A. the red pandas ! With over 5,000 spectators from all the surrounding villages as well as other parts of Nepal and the world who visited the Red Panda Network awareness exhibit, and thousands following the race via the internet, this event has created an amazing boost of awareness for the existence and conservation of the red panda.

B. The Runners:
Full Marathon (Male): 1824 m – 3794 m (over 49 km/30.4 miles)
1. Bed Bahadur Sunuwar – 4 hr 22 minutes 5 sec (Rs. 40,000)
2. Bhumi Raj Rai – 4 hr 24 minutes 25 sec (Rs 30,000)
[singlepic=650,190,,,right]3. Ram Prashad Dahal – 4 hr 29 minutes 40 sec (Rs. 20,000)

Half Marathon (Female): 1824 m – 2700 m altitude difference
1. Bedana Gurung – 3 hr 47 minute 5 sec (Rs 20,000)
2. Yangmi Lama – 3 hr 48 minutes 10 sec (Rs 15,000)
3. Sunita Limbu – 4 hr 2 minutes 45 sec (Rs 10,000)

Thanks to all the participants, runners, organizers, local partner organizations, and spectators from around the world who made this event such a success !

Click here to find out more about this annual event and about a chance to combine a visit with the rare opportunity to view red panda in the wild with Red Panda Network’s conservation team.

See also Nepal national news coverage: MyRepublica, The Himalayan Times

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Male runners at dawn at the Pathibhara Festival Himalayan Guide Marathon 2013, Taplejung, Nepal   © Red Panda Network
Male runners at dawn at the Pathibhara Festival Himalayan Guide Marathon 2013, Taplejung, Nepal © Red Panda Network

Women's Half-marathon runners at starting line, Pathibhara Festival Himalayan Guide Marathon 2013, Taplejung, Nepal © Red Panda Network
Women's Half-marathon runners at starting line, Pathibhara Festival Himalayan Guide Marathon 2013, Taplejung, Nepal © Red Panda Network

With statistics and photos by Damber Bista, © Red Panda Network