Race winner surprise award from us!

Having landed at 11.30 am it was a quick one hour drive to get to the Capitol, Thimphu, to hopefully see the race winners come in.

Its the 6th ‘Tour Of The Dragon’ Race, branded as the hardest 1 day mountain bike race in the world, covering 268km, and passing over four 3000+ metre Himalayan passes. Some of you may remember me bringing James Griffiths over as the first UK rider to attempt the race in 2015, where he completed the race in a very respectable 15th place out of 41 starters in just over 15 hours.

As the official European marketing partner and one of the race sponsors for the hosts, the ‘Bhutan Olympic Committee’, Live The Adventure have been actively endorsing the race and earlier in May brought ‘Cyclist’ magazine to complete the route.  There 8 page write up was  released in this September’s edition and is on shelves now, and details on our website www.livetheadventure.co/travel

This years race was very different….major road works and widening on 3 of the passes, with monsoon rain and thick mud making it the harshest conditions in the 6 year history of the race. Founded by HRH the prince, he is still the motivation behind the event, being present to do the race briefing, at the start, along the ride, and at the closing ceremony.

With the best race time ever being last year, won by a Nepalese rider in 10 hours 42 mins, and a 2am start time, I had calculated that I may just land and make the finish time to see the riders come in. With the conditions as they were, no records were broken, but the first rider emerged at the city square finish line in an amazing time of 11 hours 55 mins. Sonam regained his previous title of ‘Son of the Dragon’ to be the race winner for 2015. As the day went on with festivities and celebrations in the main square there were singers, dancers and general celebrating,until the remaining riders continued to reach the finish line in the dark. (I’ll post full race stats as available)

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Race winner of the 2015 TOD race – Sonam

This year also saw the first shorter race ‘Dragons Fury’ at nearly 70 km going over the last 3000+ metre pass into the Capitol. This attracted a new category of riders, both those happy to just ‘give it a go’ and a younger element of riders, many local, many under 18.

The closing award ceremony with awards presented by the Prime Minister took part at 7 pm. As a race sponsor I was awarded a certificate of thanks from the Olympic Committee before the riders awards were handed out, with cash prizes for winners and placed positions in both the Dragons Fury and Tour Of The Dragon.

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The Honourable Prime Minister of Bhutan with Sonam

The final award on stage that evening was a surprise award. Unknown to participants or many attending. As Director of Live The Adventure I was asked to step up to present our prize offer to the first Bhutanese rider in the race, and in this case the overall race winner – Sonam. He was awarded a fully hosted trip by Live The Adventure to the UK in 2016 to compete in a national mountain bike event. It was a privilege to be able to offer this to a very deserving winner. Sonam has worked so hard to achieve this with hours of daily training between his hotel shifts at work, and the delight on his face was more than evident. To be able to assist him to display his talent on an international stage is an opportunity that would otherwise be impossible for him to achieve – and watch out UK riders, he is quick! Super quick! (and trains at attitude too!)

After thanks from HRH the Prince and the Prime Minister it was time to head back to the hotel and get my change of shirt ready for the following days training programs to start. I now head over to Punakha to run the first in country training program for the river guides and launch Rescue 3 and Rescue 3 training programs in Bhutan.

For anyone interested we have a bike tour across Bhutan running at the end of January – a great way to work off the Christmas feast, with varied rider options to suit all abilities. We also be back for next years Tour Of The Dragon and Dragons Fury offering race packages for interested riders that wish to take part, and a pre race week itinerary suitable for all. Details on the website.

Next blog soon!

Ant

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