Asian News Makers
Environment Travel

Snow Marathon, adventure and a lesson in sustainable tourism

Amritanshu Raj

Snow Marathon: Everyone loves snow and for sports lovers snow marathon that too in the lap of majestic Himalayas is the cherry of the cake. Any sports lover would love to die for it. But this marathon was different. Besides adventure amid the snowy slopes of Himalaya it was also a lesson in sustainability, how to protect the environment and sustain mountains while indulging in snow marathon.

For those who love winter sports, snow clad Himalayas is one destination which is a must in the bucket list, not only for the love of adventure amid mountains but the majesty and beauty of Himalayas. Winters are the time when these breathtaking landscape of pristine white and icy temperatures attract tourists from all across the globe to these to explore the Himalayas. Amidst this alluring but unforgiving setting is the Snow Marathon, an extraordinary event that not only tests endurance but also promotes sustainable tourism.

The third annual adventure event of snow marathon 24′ was set to be held in the Lahaul Spiti region had to move to Jana Waterfall near Manali due to avalanche risks. Despite the change, over 200 sports lovers from around the world, including experienced runners, amateurs, and military personnel, gathered at Jana Waterfall. The event offered various categories to accommodate all abilities, from a full marathon to a 5km run, making it possible for everyone to enjoy running on snow-covered trails.

Snow marathon and a lesson in sustainability

The Snow Marathon Lahaul 2024, was launched with this initiative of keeping sustainable tourism at the core as its theme. This year it was just not only about winning, it was also about preserving the natural beauty of the mountains. The message was very clear, that adventure should not come at the expense of the environment. Hence the sustainability should be the top priority. No trash was allowed at the event, and participants help keep the mountains clean. This way, the stunning scenery will still be there for future runners to enjoy.

The Snow Marathon is dedicated to preserving the environment, not just during the event. In partnership with “KRICH Cleaning,” the marathon aims to highlight the environmental issues faced by Manali, a popular tourist hotspot. Before the race, participants learn about responsible waste disposal and are inspired to promote sustainable tourism. This initiative emphasizes the vital role tourists have in safeguarding the beauty of the Himalayas while enjoying its wonders.

Manali’s Crossroads: Balancing Tourism and Tradition

Manali, nestled amidst snow-clad peaks and cascading waterfalls, has seen a surge in tourism in recent years. However, this growth can come at a cost if not managed responsibly. The Snow Marathon serves as a model for a sustainable future for the region.  The event organizers highlight the importance of preserving Manali’s unique character by promoting the construction of traditional wooden lodges that blend seamlessly with the landscape, as opposed to imposing concrete structures. Educating tourists about responsible behavior, such as minimizing waste generation and respecting local customs, is another crucial step.

The Snow Marathon’s commitment to sustainability extends to the local community as well. The event creates employment opportunities for locals, from logistical support to providing traditional food and beverages to participants. This not only injects revenue into the local economy but also fosters a sense of ownership and pride in the event. The marathon becomes more than just a race; it becomes a platform for cultural exchange and economic empowerment.

A Sustainable Future for Adventure Tourism

What is Sustainable Tourism?  It refers to traveling and exploring destinations in a way that minimizes the damage to the environment, respects local cultures, and benefits local communities economically. It also involves practices that promote conservation of natural resources, protection of wildlife, preservation of cultural heritage, and equitable distribution of economic benefits among locals. The success of the Snow Marathon lies in its ability to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Participants get to push their physical limits in a breathtaking setting, while the local community benefits economically and culturally. Most importantly, the event raises awareness about the critical need for sustainable practices in the Himalayas.

Call for Responsible Tourism in Manali

While the Himalayas attract thrill-seekers, it’s crucial to remember its ecological and cultural significance. The region hosts diverse wildlife, preserves ancient traditions, and provides water for downstream communities. Reckless tourism can harm these fragile ecosystems. The Snow Marathon highlights the urgent need for cooperation among event planners, tourists, and locals to balance adventure with environmental protection, ensuring both can thrive in harmony.

Here’s how you can be a part of the solution:

  • Leave no trace: This principle leads to the use of reusable water bottles, packing light to reduce waste, and properly disposing of any unavoidable waste.
  • Embrace the Culture: Dress modestly when visiting religious sites, learn a few basic greetings in the local language, and be mindful of local customs and traditions.
  • Support Eco-Conscious Businesses: Choose eco-friendly accommodations built using local materials, and choose restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients.
  • Spread the Message: You can share your experiences and learnings on social media, encouraging others to practice responsible tourism in Manali and the Himalayas.

By embracing these principles, we can ensure that the Himalayas continue to inspire awe and adventure for generations to come. The Snow Marathon, with its blend of athletic challenge and environmental consciousness, sets a powerful example for the future of adventure tourism in this majestic mountain range. As participants conquer the course at Jana Waterfall, they do so with a newfound respect for the environment. They leave a positive legacy that transcends the finish line, a testament to the enduring power of adventure and conservation working hand-in-hand.

The Snow Marathon is more than a competition; it is a mission to responsibly navigate the Himalayas, leaving no trace and preserving precious memories. It is a commitment to foster harmony between adventure and sustainability, safeguarding the region’s unparalleled beauty for future generations to experience.

Related posts