NDS Memorial Stadium
NDS Memorial Stadium grounds
Ladakh Marathon is a unique opportunity for runners from around India and the world to run with local Ladakhis through an ancient Buddhist kingdom grappling with the rapid changes of today. The historic capital of Leh, the stunning vistas as you cross the Indus River and the dramatic climb up to the Khardung La from Nubra will leave you with lifelong memories and a chance to say you ran Ladakh, the world’s highest marathon. It is an annual event that takes place in LEH during the month of September. Being certified by AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races), it has put the event on the global marathon calendar. Khardung La Challenge, one of the four races of the event, is now the world’s highest and among the toughest ultra marathons, that is attracting some of the best runners from across the globe.
Starting from the NDS Memorial Stadium, the 42.1km Marathon route follows the Leh-Manali highway past the ITBP camp to the settlement of Choglamsar from where runners cross the Choglamsar bridge on river Indus fluttering with prayer flags. With the Stok range of mountains on the right hand you follow the true left bank of the river Indus past the Chushot Imambara towards the scenically located Stakna monastery perched atop a rock shaped like a leaping Tiger. 1.5 kms short of the monastery course takes the Stakna road through a fantastic route lined with thick willow bushes across Stakna bridge to reach the Manali-Leh highway. Ahead runners can see the dramatically located Thiksey monastery covering an entire hillside and resembling the Potala Palace of Tibet on their right. The route linked with poplar and willow trees continues on the highway past white washed Stupas which stand as a contrast against the sandy windswept landscape and bright blue skies above to the Shey palace on your right and the grazing grounds on your left till the Church of Shey. All along scenery never ceases to mesmerize you. You then turn left to run through the main street of lower Shey village till Sindughat and then catch the Manali-Leh highway. On the left you can see the brightly painted Chortens and the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. You then reach Choglamsar village and retrace the route for the remaining 6 kms to the finishing lines of the NDS Memorial Stadium grounds.
Starting from the NDS Memorial Stadium in Leh, the 21.1km Half Marathon route follows the 42km Marathon route for initial 1.5kms until the diversion to the village of Saboo. The course turns left at the Saboo gate and climb gently for 1.5kms with the Oasis of Saboo Village ahead. Leaving the Saboo road the course then turns right towards the Mahabodhi Centre going downhill all the way till it reaches the Leh-Manali highway. From here the course follows the highway crossing past the residence of HH The Dalai Lama for 2 kms and then take a loop to follow the Manali-Leh highway, again past the residence of HH The Dalai Lama on the left to the village of Choglamsar. From here the course is an uphill run for about 4kms, running past Tibetan Refugee settlement, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and HIMANK headquarters. For the final 1km the trail flattens as runners enter Leh town to finish at the NDS Memorial Stadium grounds.
The Ladakh marathon is claimed to be the highest marathon but this claim is not supported by the Guinness Book of Records which recognises the Everest Marathon which starts at over 5,200 metres (17,100 ft), though 72 km Ultra Ladakh Marathon goes up to height of 17,618 feet.
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