Bhim: The Nepalese soldier Bhim Gurung, roughly 35 years old, started to distinguish himself last January, winning the 80k +4000m elevation Kathmandu Ultra, organized by Richard Bull of Trail Running Nepal (www.trailrunningnepal.org). Although his military high level of fitness does not surprise anyone in Nepal, the organizer’s eye was cast on Bhim and he knows that the only way to help these amazing athletes is to go through the long expensive procedures to obtain a visa to get them compete outside their country. A country where running is contemplated on the track (and not for women). Let alone the trail running or skyrunning …
BHUM: three months later in April, after winning the chance to compete at the Yading Skyrace after winning the January 80km race, Bhim flies to the first Skyrace in China for the Skyrunning World Series. Bhim honours it with a sprint win over Tadei Pivik, the defending world champion.
BHAM: yet 3 months later, Bhim, accustomed to the military practices and not to bureaucratic procedures, is refused the visa twice, and sees the entire Summer racing season in Europe fade away, until he manages finally collect a 12 day Schengen visa in mid-August. Two days after arrival he was launched on the route of Ultraks as warm up after the long journey, and with jet lagged legs finishes “only” 11th.
Debilitated by cough he arrives in Val Masino, Italy for the infamous Trofeo Kima just a few days later. Drinking hot water and honey and doing some reconnaissance of the first and last part in the hot sun turns out to be the best cure. On the eve of the race, after being alone on the last 5 km of the course, he took his leave for the night with “I am ready, Sister.”
The rest is now history: in long sleeves,with backpack, and some gear lent to him by Mira, Bhim starts 5th, moves to 3rd at halfway, and in the last kilometers downhill makes 1st, and, crossing the finish line, is the new course record holder.
Without a watch. 6 hours 10 minutes. While Marco de Gasperi collapses, Bhim borrows a bicycle to retrace those last 5km from San Martino to “loosen his legs.” Three hours later he’s at Milan airport to return to Kathmandu: his visa expires, like a Cinderella ending to his story, at midnight.
TITE TOGNI www.yogaxrunners.com