While the Shangri-La Marathon is about running an incredible race, there is more to appreciate, experience, and celebrate. Don’t just run the race, but soak in the surrounding beauty of these incredible lands, witness local cultures and traditions. We want runners to have a rewarding journey that they will never forget. The race is the reason why we come, but the experience we get from it makes it a much greater experience.


2015 marks a very special year as it is the Year of the Sheep, also known as Tibetan wood goat. The birth year of the mountains. Celebrating in the 12-year zodiac cycles, those reaching 60 years of their birth year, many pilgrims and tourists from all over the world will gather to Meili for religious pilgrimages. In 2015, the eyes of the world will once again flock to Shangri-La on this mysterious and beautiful land. We are privileged to host the Shangri-La Marathon during these incredible times.


Shangri-La is located in the south of the Himalayas, the northern borders with China, Tibet, with altitude ranging from 3280-6740 meters (10,761 to 22,112 feet). Shangri-La first appeared in 1933, by American novelist James Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon. The book is depicted paradise in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China Zhongdian County in 1987.

Shangri-La Marathon will be a rewarding journey that you will never forget


Here you’ll witness the most spectacular snow-capped mountains, stretching hundreds of miles of snowy peaks, with the lower mountains covered with dense shrubs and forests, lush, green with vibrant colors matched against the snow covered peaks. National Geographic magazine listed it as one of the last pure lands in the world.

Through the Shangri-La Marathon we celebrate these fable lands of majestic Meili Snow Mountains, or Kawagarbo Mountains as it is known by local residents and pilgrims, part of the grand Himalayan Mountain range. The highest mountain peaks in Yunnan Province of China.

Kawagarbo is one of the most sacred mountains for Tibetan Buddhism as the spiritual home of a warrior god of the same name. Although it is important throughout Tibetan Buddhism, it is the local Tibetans that are the day-to-day guardians and stewards of Kawagarbo, both the deity and the mountain.

Often when looking up at the mountain, you can see a layer of white clouds that sits on the lower parts of the mountain, resembling a white scarf around the mountain peaks. The Tibetans believe this to be the symbolises for hada, or khata, a traditional ceremonial scarf used in Tibetan culture. The Khata symbolises purity and compassion and is usually made of silk or silk like material.

Kawagarbo is a holy mountain, a virgin mountain, no one has ever successfully climbed to the peak. There have been several expedition attempts, including a group of seventeen Japanese climbers who were killed in one of the most deadly avalanche accidents in history. In 2001, the local government passed laws banning all future climbing attempts on cultural and religious grounds. As of 2010, none of the significant peaks of the range have been successfully climbed. It will always remain a sacred and holy mountain.


The Kora is the Tibetan pilgrimage journey made to Tibet. Each year over 20,000 Tibetans make their pilgrimage by circumambulating the Kawagarbo mountain peak, as they do so they perform full body prostrations each step of the way. It is a strenuous 240km (150 mile) journey done on foot. With 2015 being the birthdate of the mountain, it marks a very special occasion, there will be many people from around the world making their pilgrimage in 2015. Runners will run into Pilgrims, please slow down and share the path with respect. It is an honor and humbling experience to witness as they make their journey.


The year 2015 is going to be an exciting year! Starting on February 19th, 2015 it will officially begin the Chinese Year of the Ram, Also known as the Year of the Sheep, Ram, or Goat. The sheep is among the animals that people like most. It is gentle and calm. Since ancient times, people have learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and skin to keep warm. As it is white, people often describe the delicate and precious white jade to be ‘suet jade’. Thus it is close to the meaning of good things.

The Sheep is the Eighth Sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 Animal Signs. It is lucky that the Sheep is ranked eighth in the cycle of Chinese Zodiac Animals, because the number “eight” in Chinese is an auspicious one, symbolizing peace and prosperity. In Chinese, there is a popular proverb: “Three sheep bring harmony and prosperity.”

What better way to celebrate the year than getting out into the nature and running the mountains. Make Shangri-La Marathon one of your destinations for 2015!