Nearly 100 participants from different countries took part in the fourth Lumbini Peace Marathon in Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha.
Participants from Nepal as well as China, India, New Zealand, the United States, Germany, South Korea and Sweden, among others participated in the marathon jointly organized by Lumbini Peace Marathon Pvt. Ltd. and Adventure Sports Nepal.
The marathon is Nepal’s first spiritual marathon of its kind, which took place at 150 meters above the sea level, one of the lowest altitude marathon events in the world.
The annual marathon was held on the occasion of Holi, the festival of colors, to commemorate the day Siddhartha Gautam’s return to his homeland as an enlightened Buddha.
“The major objective of the marathon is to promote Lumbini-Kapilvastu region at national and international level by connecting spirituality with sports,” Bikram Pandey, Chairman of Lumbini Peace Marathon, told Xinhua on the spot.
He further said that the event will help in promoting tourism, the backbone of country’s economy, and will contribute to overall development.
The spiritual marathon began from Kudan — the place where Buddha is believed to have met his parents for the first time after his enlightenment.
The trail passed through Buddhist heritage sites like Tilaurakot Palace, Niglihawa, Banganga River and concluded at the Lumbini Sacred Garden.
Seven Chinese nationals participated in the marathon, who shared that the marathon was a chance to experience an aura of spiritual enlightenment.
52-year-old Chinese national Huang Yan, who participated in the marathon with her husband, told Xinhha, “It has been a fantastic experience to run in this holy land. It has boosted my spirituality.”
She was echoed by Lu Yimin from Shanghai, a manager in a law firm, who visited Nepal for the first time.
“The marathon gave me a chance to experience both spirituality and sports. I believe I paid true respect to Buddhism,” Liu told Xinhua.
The event included full marathon, half marathon and 5 km race. Homlal Shresha of Nepal Army won the title of full marathon, who grabbed the Lumbini Ashoka Peace Prize of 100,000 Nepalese rupees (954.33 U.S. dollars).
The event also marked the completion of Great Buddhist Trail, that started from Swoyambhunath in Kathmandu and concluded in Lumbini.
Lumbini, some 300 km away from Kathmandu, is the most popular Buddhist destination of Nepal. According to Lumbini Development Trust, over one and half million domestic and foreign tourists visit this holy site every year.