Laya Run, considered one of the most scenic high-altitude run in the world, has become a crucial part of the Royal Highland Festival. But the run’s popularity among the highlanders has been decreasing.
This year, only two Layaps participated in the run. Choki, a lone female participant from highland was awarded winner for the second time this year.
Highlanders feel that the run should be for the people of the highlands. All top eight winners of Laya Run this year were from the armed forces.
This, a runner from Laya said was demotivating for the highlanders. “We already know who are going to be the winners.”
Sangay Wangchu has won the run for the third time. This year, he came third.
He said he deliberately ran late this time to give the opportunity to the new participants.
“I feel that the participants are not happy to see me win every year. I will not participate next year because I would be preparing for the international snowman run,” said Sangay Wangchu.
Former Laya Gup Kinley Dorji said that the highlanders should host the festival instead.
He also said that the Laya Run should be only for the highlanders and for others. “The highlanders are demotivated to take part in running competition because they know that they cannot compete with other runners.”
The event would be unique if the run is only for the highlanders, he added.
National Council representative from Laya, Dorji Khandu, said that the whole purpose of the Royal Highland Festival was to attract tourists and national participants to visit Laya. The run, he said, is one of the most important attractions.
“I can sympathise with the highlanders. But what is more important is to attract as many participants from outside the highlands,” Dorji Khandu said.
He said that Laya Run, like any other activity of the festival, should not impose any restriction. “There are street vendors from other dzongkhags.”
Laya Gup Lhakpa Tshering said that the run should not be restricted to anyone. “We should in fact be happy that the participation is increasing by the year. ”
Some say that the natives of the highland have the advantage; they are not able to win the run because they often do not prepare adequately.
Choki said that she did not have time to practice. “But I walk every day through the valleys and over the mountains. I think my daily chores prepare me for the competition.”
Ninety-three runners took part in the 4th Laya Run on October 23.
There were runners from India and the US besides seven different countries.
Phub Dem | Laya
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