HUNZA: Army and Gilgit-Baltistan athletes won the top positions in the Khunjerav Highest Road Marathon, the highest altitude race in Gojal Valley on Saturday.
It was a momentous occasion in the history of Pakistan, as 154 long-distance runners including 39 foreigners from 17 countries from across the world, enthusiastically ran on the descending Karakoram Highway, said a statement issued by the organisers.
The participants ran from 4,693 meters above sea level, according to a statement issued by Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
The highest ever marathon featured a unique blend of young and old, local and foreign, male and female long-distance runners, sweating out on the 8th wonder of the world.
The race was held in three categories — ultramarathon (50km), marathon (42km) and half-marathon (21km).
In 50km race Muhammad Siyar from army clinched the 1st position; whereas, Aslam Khan from GB Scouts remained runner up. The third on the podium was Muhammad Iqbal also from Gilgit-Baltistan.
In the 42km race, the army athletics team dominated the race and bagged the first three positions.
Umair Haider secured the first position, whereas, Muhammad Faheem and Sohail Tanveer won the second and third spots respectively.
In the 21km race, Mirza Aslam Baig remained first; whereas, Abdul Muheet and Musawwir-ur-Rehman won the second and third positions respectively.
The event was organised by the PAF in collaboration with Z Adventures, an international marathon travel company, and Serena Hotels.
Ziyad Rahim, a marathon runner and founder of Z Adventures, who has set six Guinness World Records and successfully directed races in Pakistan has been an instrumental figure across the marathon world, promoting long-distance running and attracting global runners to Pakistan.
After leading similar challenges in Hunza in 2016 and the Karakoram in 2018, this was the third marathon he organised at the highest altitude which started from the magnificent Khunjarab Pass to Sost, a small border town of Hunza District’s Gojal Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, and Winter Sports Federation of Pakistan President Air Marshal Aasim Zaheer were also present at the occasion.
The foreign athletes lauded the natural beauty of the valley and hospitality of the people, the statement read.
Last year, the event was held at an altitude of 11,300 feet (3,444 meters) above the sea-level at Naltar valley. The event aims to promote tourism and a soft image in the world, the organisers said.