Just over 190 people registered and 160 of those actually got out of bed to run.
Mira Rai could not be there in person, but was on a cleverly designed lifesize selfie-board.
Mira Rai selfie
The course proved that entertaining, challenging trails can be found very close to the city. The series aims to hold short Saturday morning trail races on a monthly basis close to public transport stops.
Category results given below under the photos, but the link to the full table you can find here.
There were a few reports of short cutting from the first three participants. This would not affect the result and for this time we let the result stand. In future course design will keep checkpoints in places where a shortcut would be possible.
“Thank you very much organiser team for that excellent marking (Manish Tamang) #preeti didi was like ‘cherry on a cake'”
“I would like to thank all of you organizer, it was fun and management was excellent….”
“Thank you Trail Running Nepal and the team for organizing this amazing run …” – Team Nepal Dynamic Running Club
“Thank you too much trail running Nepal, great race! Congrats to the winners and participants!” – Jimi Oostrum
Thanks to the volunteers at the checkpoint and registration. Come join as a volunteer next time!
Sometimes this website receives nice and excitable messages about people’s recent journeys in Nepal. This one from Severin Wuensch in Germany linked to a video that strings together moment after moment of many of the best things Nepal has to offer mountain travellers. Watching it naturally makes you itch to head to these remote valleys. Severin comments, “Running through Nepal was the most crazy thing I did last year! But I loved it, I enjoyed it, and I would do it again. And here is what I saw during our journey up and down the mountains…” and then comes the video! More information about the running trip he was on here.
“Lots of shots into the sun!” says a sunglasses wearing friend. Yes, wasn’t the weather great!
Running at altitude is hard – how much running actually went on among the walking?! Most of the group I traveled with ran everything below 3700m. In general everybody was free to run or walk as much as he or she liked.
It looks deserted, there are very few people – what time of year did you go? We did the trip last year in November and we had no clouds at all until the last day, so that was great! Yes, it looks a little deserted at that time.
Any tips for someone who wants to film running? Take a camera that is as light as possible, don’t do what I did and do the entire track with a heavy camera gear in your hand 😉
The treks in Nepal are famous for quickly changing landscapes, low-altitude lush river valleys, to super high altitude mountain scenery – which was your favorite section? I love these always changing landscapes, from jungle and rice fields to moon-like with no green at all. But the trail right before Manang was my favourite part, from the blue river to the green fields to the dirty trail to the white mountain tops, all in one picture.
Some say the Annapurna trail has been ruined by road development – what is your feeling about that?
As long as the treks on the other river side are still there I don’t think it’ll ruin the track, I didn’t notice the road that much.
Finally, why did you put the effort in to make this short film? I enjoy making those kind of short films about traveling the world, and Nepal is such a great place to film at, I could point my camera anywhere and just press record and it would look great! Making those short films enables me to travel the countries I want to see, and watching my own videos enables me to relive these incredible experiences I had there. And it’s great that I can share this with other people around the world and I hope to encourage them to visit this beautiful country as well.
“This 18 year old girl is really impressive,” say Salomon Running on Twitter. That’s a big thing to hear from the world’s biggest and best trail running sports team. That came midway through the MSIG Lantau 50km race in Hong Kong last weekend (December 4th). And then this at the finish line, “Sunmaya finish 2nd of her first 50km race!! What an amazing girl ????Congratulations!!!”
But don’t forget Purna Laxmi Neupane. Sunmaya 2nd behind the current trail running world champion, and Purna coming on 4th not too far behind an Adidas sponsored athlete. Both just 18, both running their first 50 km distance on a particularly tough course. Normally both are training for athletics events, for 5, 10 or 21 km races, which of course are on road or track.
It’s another result for connecting talent with opportunity. Sunmaya and Purna came to the Manaslu Trail Race in November after wins in short distances at the Kathmandu Ultra and Godawari Running Festival. Manaslu is a stage race, and the rest of the competitors watched these two girls push hard day after day, beating the times of winners of previous years. It was clear there was talent that needed a bigger opportunity.
And so Hong Kong. Mira Rai came second in this same race in 2014, but is recovering from injury. Would she take them to Hong Kong and mentor them for the race? “Yes, why not. Very great!” was Mira’s predictable response. And so with favours called from all directions, after a busy 5 or 6 days, the girls had a new passport, a Hong Kong visa, and paid for flight tickets, and an amazing experience ahead of them.
We can talk about meeting the sea for the first time, or discovering that it is salty, and all of the wonderful things that happened, including proving their talent and winning prizes.
But in this short space, better to remark on their courage. Both are young girls from a remote mountain area, and to be running, as they do with Karnali Sports Club, is a breakthrough in itself. What they are doing is showing that women can do whatever men do and more, going directly against ingrained patriarchal attitudes. Here Sunmaya speaks with the Chinese News Agency in Kathmandu.
“My family is against my choice of getting into sports. Rather, they want me to settle down. But I want to continue my studies and and become a national player some day. I hope they would change their mind then.”
Saroj Shahi is a coordinator at Karnali Sports Club, founded by Nepali running legend Hari Rokaya, said to Xinhua,
“We are on the drive to engage more and more number of young girls into sports to help them fight illiteracy, discrimination and social stigmas. The craze is increasing gradually and we are hopeful that it will bring positive changes soon.”
Saroj sent photos from the club training in all seasons, posted in the gallery below.
Their aim is worth supporting. Lizzy Hawker recently dedicated her 42-day, 1600 km Great Himalaya Trail epic to raising money to enable girls to run. Her fund is still open, and you can add a donation to it. It’s not just about running, or winning, but changing attitudes, widening horizons and improving lives. It’s important.
Once again congratulations to Sunmaya and Purna Laxmi. Amazing women!
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.
Bhim Bahadur Gurung
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.
With the year’s longest day* already behind us, the days will be shorten all the way to November! In November in Nepal, a typical day can look like this:
Natalia Roman-Lopez running down from 4500m.
There are many races listed on this site. Trail Running Nepal organises this one! With four clear months to go, time to try to fill the last few places and by mentioning why this event is a great choice and clarifying a few things that people often ask.
“For me it was really my best trail running experience since more than 20 years of trail running!” said Stephan Tassani-Prell in his feedback of the race.
There are still a few places left – up to 8 more to be exact. – so if you’re considering joining in November, let us know quickly!
Here are a few things you might like to know about the race.
Tough challenge or not?
Some people see the images on the website and assume it is an event for elites. It’s worth spelling out that this is still a challenge but it is not about suffering – more about enjoying running through this amazing landscape, and enjoying the company of the people you’re with.
You don’t have to carry a heavy pack – just your day’s running pack: energy, water and something warm to wear at the stage finish until your bags arrive.
You’ll sleep indoors on a mattress every night, no tents or floors. You can really get some sleep and recover.
We cook all the food for you and lots of it. No need to bring dehydrated meals, unless you want to.
The longest stage is reduced to 32km this year. With the elevation change, altitude and day after day, most people are not wishing for more by the end.
The field usually is a mix of regular, enthusiastic trail runners, with some accomplished runners and occasional (semi-)professional runners. The local runners we invite run to win! A few people come to hike the route.
This time last year, after the earthquake, the race was fully in doubt. Along with great damage to buildings, the landslides damaged trails and continued to pose danger as the monsoon rains fell. It wasn’t until late September that we could conduct an assessment of the trails and hotels. By 1st October, when the rains had finally stopped, teams of local villagers were on the trails clearing new routes around or across landslides. This was positive news for the participants, and more so the race staff who were keen to get working and earn a living again. Tourism, and so work, had ground almost to a halt in this area and so we were pleased to be able to send our recce report to trekkers and agencies and play a part to get tourism started again. For the race, apart from a few makeshift bridges, the trails were good and hotels also in good condition.
Check-in Check-out Checkpoints
A few races do this, and more races should! How can four competitors in a race stage take time to do this? (Photo below.) Because it’s a check-in, check-out point. Certain places are too amazing and to allow you to enjoy them, we have a checkpoint where you can stay a while the clock is stopped. It’s the same rule for everyone and you can stay for 10 seconds, or 1 hour, it’s up to you. Below is Pungyen Gompa, a small monastery on a plateau at 4400m (14,500ft) with the enormous East face of Manaslu rising up nearly 4km from it. There is a second CICO checkpoint below Manaslu Basecamp where you can gaze at Manaslu across it’s glacier.
Like race organisers Les Chevaliers du Vent and the Everest Marathon, we invite local runners to Manaslu. Some for the racing experience, others just for the trip of a lifetime. In 2015 two of the invited runners came all the way from remote Jumla – Bishnu Maya Budha and Dipendra Bam.
Bishnu to go to Hong Kong! (c) Mark Brightwell.
Bishnu Maya, first place in her first international race.
Bishnu ran really well, consistently stage after stage, so much so that we thought it was worth trying to send her to race in Hong Kong in December last year. There she won the Vertical Kilometer and placed 5th in the 50km after a fall. She came home with more than US$1000 in her pocket and some great running shoes. Dipendra and Bishnu later placed first at the Kathmandu Ultra in January and won a trip to China to run in the Yading Skyrace. It’s great to be able to help give opportunities like this to young talents.
Giving to the local community
“Run for light” is the race’s strapline. Things are improving, but still many people lack access to electricity or light. The race itself makes a donation of solar lights in one of the villages we pass through in coordination with a charity that does this, and a sum for the maintenance of Samdo’s (highest Tibetan village in the valley) micro-hydro generator. To do a little bit more last year, we raised over $5000 for more lights – you can read below. We’ll be doing the same this year too.
Mira in Italy – running in Italy earlier this year.
Not everything has gone to plan in 2016 for Mira Rai, and the plan was to follow the Skyrunning Ultra Series in Spain and Portugal.
“Unfortunately this year I got injured running in a race in the UK. I tried the next race in Spain, but my leg was not feeling good. After returning to training place in Italy, the pain did not go away, and after checking with the doctor and having an MRI scan, they informed me I should stop running and rest until the pain is gone.” The diagnosis showed a small fracture in the fibula. After more than a month, Mira reported that there is still some pain coming back after running.
Several years ago Mira injured her knee in an accident. The Salomon physio, ArnaudTortel, informed Mira that a cruciate ligament was fully torn. She had no idea. Running on her unstable knee was fine because of the strength of her legs muscles and her balance and agility. But running competitively for any period of time like this is not a good idea.
Surgery was always the plan, it was just a matter of when. “Now it is a good time to fix my knee so I can run 100%,” says Mira. “After surgery, I will need minimum four months recovery before starting to run again. I hope early next year (2017) I will be ready to start training hard and will have full power.”
Mira also wants to say, “Big thank you to all my supporters. Thank you for your messages. I hope to see you wherever you are soon,” and thanks to Salomon Running for support with this and her friends in Italy who are helping her though this process.
Mira became the runner-up losing the title to Emelie Forsberg of Sweden.
Tell me more about the races this year….
Mira will run the following races in the series this year –
Transvulcania Ultramarathon (Spain) – May 7th
The race is somewhere between 73-75 km, that includes 4,350 m of ascent crossing the major volcano making up the island of La Palma, Spain.
Emelie Forsberg won it last year.
Madeira Ultra (Portugal) – June 4th
Technical race over steep slopes of Madeira Island, 55 km long with 4,000 m vertical climb.
Skyrunning has come to Portugal for the 1st time in this series. Last year’s 3rd race of the series Tromsø SkyRace was held in Norway. Mira came second, 13 minutes behind Emelie Forsberg, finishing the race in 7:23:09 hrs.
Buff Epic – July 22 which is a 105km race featuring 8,000 m ascent around Aiguestortes National Park in Catalonia, Spain. This is also the Skyrunning World Championship so a big race for Mira.
Ultra Pirineu (Spain) – 24th September
This is the last race of the series, a 110 km mountain run with 6,800 vertigal gain, held in Barcelona. Runners competing for the prize will get 20% extra points.
Mira came 2nd last year behind Emelie Forsberg and ahead of Nuria Picas.
She finished her race in 13:43:49, just 4 minutes behind Emelie.
Wow, Emelie looks to be very strong. Can Mira run faster than her this year?
Emelie is not running the series this year, as she has withdrawn from the competition due to knee injury.
But it won’t be easy for Mira, as New Zealand runner Anna Frost is back this year.
Who is Anna Frost?
Anna is 2012 and 2014 Transvalcunia champ. When she turns up fit in the starting line up, she is a favourite.
Injury kept her out of running last year. On the course of her recovery, she found herself in Nepal, where she joined a 15 day stage race. Frost was rejuvenated by this and in a recent interview, she said this about Nepal –
“These people in Nepal have absolutely nothing but a whole lot of love and family and friends–and they’re willing to share that with you,” she says. “You’re up at 4,000 meters and it’s another 4,000 meters above you; you’re the size of a pea, and I find that incredibly empowering. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, physically and mentally.”
Back from the hip injury, she has won Hard Rock 100 race recently.
It’s going to be really tough then…..
Yes, it is. Not only her, the top contenders for the podium are Spain’s Anna Comet, last year’s runner up at Mont Blanc which Mira won; Spain’s Uxue Fraile, USA’s Alicia Shay, Kiwi Ruth Croft etc.
So can Mira better her position from last year?
Time will tell. She is strong enough to do it. But, the most important thing for her is to enjoy the race.
And the best thing we can do is to support her.
She has already made us proud and has inspired many people around the world.
Thanks for the opportunity China Mountain Trails, says Bhim Gurung fresh back from the Yading Skyrace in China. There he took on Italian Tadei Pivk, the 2015 World Skyrunning and beat him into second place. “I tried as hard as I could, but he (Gurung) was so fast on the downhill, I couldn’t keep up,” said Pivk. This is one of the natural talents of Nepali runners that makes them competitive. Being born and raised walking hillside trails develops a downhill ability that almost looks innate.
Bhim had been spent 3 days training at 2900m altitude in Jomsom, Mustang for the event. It was to be longer, but his visa application meant that he had to return to Kathmandu to attend the visa office.
Winners Bhim Gurung with Megan Kimmel.
Bhim’s colleagues Bishnu Maya Budha and Dipendra Bam also performed well coming in at 5th and 8th respectively.
All three got the opportunity through an association between Trail Running Nepal and China Mountain Trails. The winners of the Kathmandu Ultra 50km and 80km events would be given the opportunity to race at one of the CMT events, an opportunity for which these three runners are fantastically grateful.
She has a point and doesn’t it just make for an uplifting story?
Lloyd Belcher and Mira Rai are now both very pleased and excited that finally the time came when they could announce that, “the Mira Rai film is available for viewing!”
It came after more than a year of hard work. While Lloyd was editing filmed material, and learning during the process, Mira was rapidly updating her story – she wouldn’t stay still.
“I like so much this film! WOW amazing hard work Lloyd Brother! Thank you thank you!” said Mira after watching the 42 minute movie yesterday. She and Lloyd sincerely hope you will enjoy it too.
All Vimeo rental sales will go directly towards funding the screening of ‘Mira’ around Nepal and to empower and encourage Nepalese girls to participate in sports. Soon, in Nepal a free version will be available to watch on Youtube – details to follow.
What other’s are saying about this trail running film
“Among the many ultrarunning movies, this one is a real gem. Fascinating to watch Mira Rai’s journey from growing up in the remote countryside poverty to competing with, and winning against, the worlds best in the sport. Brilliant movie.” – Andre Blumberg, HK.
“Just finished watching the film, absolutely loved it. So uplifting…..makes me want to run up a mountain right now!” –Holly Rush, Ultra Runner
“Amazing movie about an amazing, gentle, humble woman. An inspiration for women in and outside of nepal. Beautiful shots of nepal and other incredible ultra trails.” – groupmapping
« The race you can see from the moon… » (Avril – Mai 2017)
Day 1. (31-03). Départ de Paris (50 m) or another city.
Day 2. (01-04). Arrivée Kathmandu (1350 m).
Day 3. (02-04). Administratifs, contrôles et préparatifs : sacs ravitaillement, trek, compétition et expédition (*1). Day 4. (03-04). Katmandou (1350 m) – Taplejung (1820 m) en avion.
Day 5. (04-04). Trek. Taplejung (1820 m) – Mitlung (921 m) – Sinwa (980 m) – Chiruwa (1270 m). 6 h. Lodge ou tente.
Day 6. (05-04). Trek. Chiruwa (1250 m) – Lelep (1750 m) – Sakethum (1576 m). 8 h. Tente.
Day 7. (06-04). Trek. Sakathum (1640 m) – Kyapra (2730 m). 7 h. Tente.
Day 8. (07-04). Trek. Kyapra (2730 m) – Ghunsa (3595 m). 7 h. Tente.
Day 9. (08-04). Trek. Ghunsa (3595 m) – Khamgpachen (4050 m). 4 h. Tente. Day 10. (09-04).Trek.Khamgpachen (4050 m) – Ramtang (4370 m). 2 h. Tente.
Marche d’acclimatation jusqu’à Lhonak (4780 m) en aller/retour. 3 h.
Day 11. (10-04). Trek de Ramtang (4370 m) jusqu’au Camp de Base du Kanchenjunga (Pang Bema, 5140 m). 4 h. Start Great Himal Race du Kanchenjunga (Pang Bema, 5140 m). Stage 1. Kanchenjunga BC (5140 m) – Ghunsa (3595 m) 4 à 8 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 12. (11-04). Stage 2. Ghunsa (3595 m) – Nango La (4776) – Yangma Khola (3430) – Deurali (2800 m) – Olangchung Gola (3191 m). 8 à 12 h. Lodge ou tente. Ravitaillement personnel N° 1. (GHT High Route).
Day 13. (12-04). Stage 3. Olangchung Gola (3191 m) – Lumba Samba Phedi (Pass Camp, 4453 m). 6 h à 8 h.Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 14. (13-04). Stage 4. Lumba Samba Phedi (4453) – Col (5250) – Lumbha Samba (5159 m) – Thudam (3356). 8 à 10 h (+900 m, -2000 m). Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 15. (14-04). Stage 5. Thudam (3556 m) – Hikchu (Pont Arun River, 1800 m) – Chyamthang (2187 m). 7 h à 9 h (+1400 m, -2100 m). Lodge ou tente. (GHT High Route & Main Trail).
Day 16. (15-04). Stage 6. Chyamthang (2187 m) – Chepuwa (2040 m) – Hatiya (1560 m) – Gola (1100 m). 7 h (+1300, – 2390 m). Lodge ou tente. (GHT High Route & Main Trail).
Day 17. (16-04). Stage 7. Gola (1100 m) – Num (1530 m) – Dauj La (2100 m) – Kuwapani (2010 m). 8 à 10 h. Lodge ou tente. (Main Trail & GHT Cultural Trail).
Day 18. (17-04). Stage 8. Kuwapani (2010 m) – Khadbari (1040 m) – Arun River (315 m) – Simle (1000m). 6 à 9 h. Lodge ou tente. (Main Trail & GHT Cultural Trail).
Day 19. (18-04). Stage 9. Simle (1000 m) – Salewa (1400 m) – Salpa Phedi (1520 m) – Guranse (2700 m). 7 à 11 h. Lodge ou tente. (GHT Cultural Trail).
Day 20. (19-04). Stage 10. Guranse (2700 m) – Salpa Bhanjyang (3414 m) – Gudel (1965 m) – Hongu Khola Bridge (1350 m) – Bung (1620 m). 6 à 9 h. Lodge. (GHT Cultural Trail).
Day 21. (20-04). Stage 11. Bung (1620 m) – Surke La (3085 m) – Inkhu Khola (1650 m) – Sinuje (2600 m) – Narkung La (Pankongma, 3180 m) – Panggom (2900 m). 8 à 11 h. Tente. (GHT Cultural Trail).
Day 22. (21-04). Stage 12. Panggom (2900 m) – Khari La (3045 m) – Chutok La (2945 m) – Phakding (2610 m). 7 h à 9 h. Lodge. (GHT Cultural Trail & Main Trail).
Day 23. (22-04). Stage 13. Phakding (2610 m) – Namche Bazar (3440 m) – Thame (3820) – Thyangbo (4230 m). Ravitaillement personnel N° 2 à Namché. 5 à 7 h. Tente. (Main Trail & GHT High Route).
Day 24. (23-04). Stage 14. Thyangbo (4230 m) – Tashi Labsta (5755 m) – Na (4180 m). 9 à 14 h. Lodge ou tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 25. (24-04). Stage 15. Na (4180 m) – Beding (3690 m) – Simigaon (2036 m). 6 à 9 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 26. (25-04). Stage 16. Simigaon (2036 m) – Chhetchhet (1377 m) – Jagat (1150 m) – Orangdanda (2029 m). 6 à 9 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 27. (26-04). Stage 17. Orangdanda (2029 m) – Loting (1768 m) – Bigu Gompa (2516 m). 6 à 9 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 28. (27-04). Stage 18. Bigu Gompa (2516 m) – Tinsang La (3778 m) – Chaku (The Last Resort) (1170 m). Ravitaillement personnel N° 3 à Chaku. 7 à 9 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 29. (28-04). Stage 19. Chaku (The Last Resort) (1170 m) – Listi (2260 m) – Chogormogor Kharka (3925 m) – Kyangsin (2520 m) – Nyasem Khola (Camp, 1860 m). 7 à 10 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 30. (29-04). Stage 20. Nyasem Khola (Camp, 1860 m) – Tembathang (2160 m) – Chedupa Kharka (2513 m) – Panch Pokhari (Shiva Temple, 4070 m) – Tin Pokhari (4255 m). 7 à 10 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 31. (30-04). Tin Pokhari (4255 m). Jour de sécurité. Safety Day.
Day 32. (01-05). Stage 21. Tin Pokhari (4255 m) – Tilman’s Pass (5308 m) – Kyangjin Gompa (3830 m). 9 à 14 h. Lodge ou tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 33. (02-05). Stage 22. Kyangjin Gompa (3830 m) – Langtang (3430 m) – Syabru Besi (1503 m). Ravitaillement personnel N° 4 à Syabru Besi. 8 à 11 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 34. (03-05). Stage 23. Syabru Besi (1503 m) – Khurpudanda La (3710 m) – Somdang (3258 m). 6 à 8 h. Lodge ou tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 35. (04-05). Stage 24. Somdang (3258 m) – Pang Sang Bhanjyang (3830 m) – Tipling (1890 m) – Borang (1560 m) – Lapagaon (1850 m). 8 à 10 h. Lodge ou tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 36. (05-05). Stage 25. Lapagaon (1850 m) – Mangro Bhanjyang (2936 m) – Myangal Bhanjyang (2975 m) – Machhakhola (869 m) – Tatopani (990 m). 7 à 9 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 37. (06-05). Stage 26. Tatopani (990 m) – Jagat (1340 m) – Prok (2397 m). 6 à 9 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 38. (07-05). Stage 27. Prok (2397 m) – Narumg (2630 m) – Sama Gaon (3520 m) – Samdo (3875 m). 7 à 14 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 39. (08-05). Stage 28. Samdo (3875 m) – Larkya Bhanjyang (5135 m) – Bimtang (3630 m) – Dharapani (1860 m). Ravitaillement personnel N° 5 à Dharapani. 7 à 10 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 40. (09-05). Stage 29. Dharapani (1860 m) – Chame (2670 m) – Ghyaru (3670 m). 6 à 8 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 41. (10-05). Stage 30. Ghyaru (3670 m) – Manang (3540 m) – Thorung Phedi (4450 m). 4 à 6 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 42. (11-05). Stage 31. Thorung Phedi (4450 m) – Thorung La (5415) – Muktinath (3760) – Kagbeni (2810 m). Ravitaillement personnel N° 6 à Kagbeni. 4 à 6 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 43. (12-05). Stage 32. Kagbeni (2810 m) – Jeula Danda Pass (4306 m) – Bhima Lojun La (4460 m) – Santa (3777 m) – Ghalden Ghuldun Khola Camp ( Camp, 4247 m). 6 à 8 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 44. (13-05). Stage 33. Ghalden Ghuldun Khola Camp (4247 m) – Jungben La (5550 m) – Niwas La (5120 m) – Chharka Bhot (4302). 8 à 11 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 45. (14-05). Stage 34. Chharka Bhot (4302) – Chan La (5378 m) – Dho Tarap (3944 m) – Modo (4233 m). 7 à 10 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 46. (15-05). Stage 35. Modo (4233 m) – Numala La South (5309 m) – Bagala La (5169 m) – Ringmo Phoksundo Lake (3640 m). Ravitaillement personnel N° 7 à Ringmo. 8 à 12 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 47. (16-05). Stage 36. Ringmo Phoksundo Lake (3640 m) – Nagdola La (5350 m) – Shey Gompa (4343 m). 7 à 10 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 48. (17-05). Stage 37. Shey Gompa (4343 m) – Bhijer (3850 m) – Yambur La (4813 m) – Pho (4087 m). 6 à 8 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 49. (18-05). Stage 38. Pho (4087 m) – Nyingma Gyanzen La (5563 m) – Pung Kharka (4650 m) – Yala La (5414 m) – Takla Khola (Camp, 3785 m). 8 à 10 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 50. (19-05). Stage 39. Takla Khola (3785 m) – Chyargo La (5150 m) – Thajuchaur (Camp, 4050 m) – Tiyar (2418 m) 8 à 10 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 51. (20-05). Stage 40. Tiyar (2418 m) – Mangri (1950 m) – Gamgadhi (2095 m). Ravitaillement personnel N° 8 à Gamgadhi. 5 à 7 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 52. (21-05). Stage 41. Gamgadhi (2095 m) – Changhkeli La (3594 m) – Piplan (1700) – Melchham (2600 m). 8 à 10 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 53. (22-05). Stage 42. Melchham (2600 m) – Margor Lek Bhanjyang (4037 m) – Kharpel (3100 m). 8 à 10 h. Tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 54. (23-05). Stage 43. Kharpel (3100 m) – Simikot (2985 m) – Sangrak (2860 m). 7 à 9 h. Lodge ou tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 55. (24-05). Stage 44. Sangrak (2860 m) – Taplung (3060 m) – Dhumbu (3073 m). 6 à 8 h. Lodge ou tente. (GHT High Route).
Day 56. (25-05). Arrival Great Himal Race. Stage 45. Dhumbu (3073 m) – Yarig (3663) – Nara La (4560) – Chor La (4107) – Hilsa (3647 m). 6 à 8 h. Lodge. (GHT High Route).
Day 57. (26-05). Hilsa (3647 m). Jour de sécurité. Safety Day.
Day 58. (27-05). Trek. Hilsa (3647 m) – Chor La (4107) – Nara La (4560) – Yarig (3663) – Dhumbu (3073 m). 8 h. Lodge ou tente.
Day 59. (28-05). Trek. Dhumbu (3073 m) – Taplung (3060 m) – Sangrak (2860 m). 8 h. Lodge ou tente.
Day 60. (29-05). Trek. Sangrak (2860 m) – Dharapor (2360 m) – Simikot (2985 m). 8 h Lodge ou tente.
Day 61. (30-05). Simikot (2985 m) – Nepalgunj (150 m) – Kathmandu (1350 m) par avion (by plane). Hôtel. Day 62. (31-05). Kathmandu (1350 m). Jour de sécurité. Safety Day.
Day 63. (01-06). Kathmandu (1350 m). Departure to Paris or another city.
Mira’s work is done and Lloyd has nearly completed the editing, with the help of Shashank who’s been translating between English and Nepali and back again.
The film is set to be around 42 minutes and it tells the remarkable story of Mira Rai who found trail running by chance and almost within a year of racing internationally, placed second in the World Skyrunning Championships.
If you want to do some big training days, or be a tourist in a different way, ask Upendra to guide you on some runs around the Kathmandu Valley. Upendra is currently getting his official guide licence. It is a tedious process requiring six-weeks attendance to classroom-based classes on guiding. Of course he is learning new things which will help him be a better guide, but importantly the guide licence allows him to take clients all over Nepal.
Andrew Barrett from the USA came to Nepal hoping to cover some 160km in 4 days to give a boost to his coming running season. He had this to say about running with Upendra.
“I am at the Kathmandu airport, awaiting my flight out and want to thank you for connecting me with Upendra. As you told me, his English was a little difficult to understand. But he took me on fantastic runs, never repeating the same location. On successive days we climbed Jamacho, Shivapuri, Champa Devi and Bhasmeswor Danda (same day), and finally Phulchoki. Today, he took me for a running tour of the city itself finishing at Patan Durbar Square. He was just awesome throughout, this was some spectacular running. If there is a particular place I can post that will help him get more guide opportunities, please let me know.” – Andrew Barrett, USA
And just today, David Bennert reported a “Very exciting Trail run with Upendra” climbing Jamacho near to the city.
Yes, you can go out running on the trails, there’s a map of trails in Kathmandu Valley here, but you’ll be more efficient, not get lost, and enjoy the process more if you hire a guide. For individuals or running groups, for single days, or multiday fastpacking trips, get in touch with us to hire Upendra.
Congratulations Upendra – a long deserved win. This years MSIG course was longer then 2015’s Asia Skyrunning championships, with very different conditions: it rained and was slippery underfoot, and Upendra was running with an ankle sprain sustained a week earlier in Kathmandu.
“Sunuwar,” reports SCMP, “who lives 100 kilometres outside of Kathmandu, works as a trail running guide in Nepal and was rumoured to gain a greater lead over fellow contestants, but got lost on the course. He was happy to take home the silverware but claimed his performance was only ‘so so’.”
Upendra was interviewed by Action Asia Events:
“The race was nice. Up and down and up and down which is my style. The big climbs on the trails indeed were not too difficult for me as I live in Nepal and train in the mountains, but as it had rained and were slippery, it was a little difficult, enjoyed them as an extra challenge then the weather got better and trails started to dry. Despite taking the first place, I’m not so satisfied with my performance as thought I made a couple small errors so guess just so-so. But the others also had a tough race so think I’m quite happy as maybe should have drank more as weather changed quite fast from a very cool morning to quite warm” said overall champion Nepalese runner Upendra Sunuwar showing off a bruised ankle and some nasty bloody gashes all down his legs.
Would be great to have a library of trail running or hiking routes to follow on your smart phone (if you have one) or to print and take with you. Here’s a start, gathered from many GPS tracks recorded by many people. There are many more great running trails than this. If you know of more, please link your GPS track in the comments below with some idea of where it is.
If you have a phone with a browser, open this link on it. You may be lucky and be able to find your location. If you have Google Maps installed on your phone, then try to open “Kathmandu Trails” from the search box.
If you have any better suggestions, please add in the form below.
Download GPX / KML
The full trails are here GPX (9MB) and KML (2MB) but slowly we’ll add smaller, separate files for different areas.
Near the top of Shivapuri peak near Kathmandu
Please upload a GPX track you want to share with people.
If you are coming to Nepal to trek in the next few weeks, and you plan to, or have thought about taking diamox, please consider helping this study.
First, check the email to the right from the study team from Utah University (note that it says Everest Region only). Find out more about diamox here and here. Then read a little more from Dr Pranav Koirala who is a specialist in High Altitude Medicine who’s part of the study team:
Diamox is being used as prophylactic in this study. We are trying to find out which dose is better [the current 125mg or an even smaller dose]. This study does not place participants at any increased risk.
People who are already planning on taking diamox or who just want to take the drugs to participate in this study both would be welcome. Since this is not drug vs placebo (this is a normal dose of the drug vs smaller dose of the drug) all the participants will be taking diamox but in different doses. Even we will not know which is which to prevent biases. The pills that we will give are identical but coded. Participants will have to keep track of their symptoms by filling out very small and simple form every evening and give it back to us at the end of their trip.
I am sure people have a lot of confusion regarding Diamox. Just a few years ago a 750 mg dose was the standard! Imagine the discomfort people had to go through until someone came along and did a research for 500mg and 250mg, and now 125mg is the standard prophylaxis. We are trying to look if an even smaller dose is as effective.
This study has been running for a year now. We need 25 more subjects this year to complete the study.
Please fill the form if you are interested in taking part.
Mira comes from a remote village, fairly typical of rural villages across Nepal. As night comes, there’s maybe a little bit of solar light, some candle or oil lamp light and light from the fire in the kitchen area. Dim and limited would describe it. Mira took one of these solar lights home with her for her mother last April, and her mother was very happy with it. It’s bright, and useful where you need it. “She can take it where she needs it. She can even put it on her front,” says Mira, “Very comfortable!”
Mira with the light she gave to her mother.
It’s a simple thing that can make a big difference. Even in Kathmandu, the capital city, the power can be off from 4 to 18 hours in the day. These lights are assembled in Bouddha, Kathmandu. The parts are imported from China (of course) but great attention is paid to the LED light and the battery. A charity called LED initially started distributing the lights in the Manaslu Region and the organisers of the Manaslu Trail Race asked if they could help on an annual basis. Of course, said Val Pitkethly, veteran climbing guide from the UK.
Over the past few years, Val and LED had made great progress delivering lights systematically household by household with PHASE Nepal. The earthquake set that back. A falling stone will smash one of these lights in a second. So start again. So this is why we’re making a campaign now. We can easily see the utility of these lights. They make life easier, and evenings safer and more productive.
Distribution is not easy though. In a village setting, it is impossible to give to some people and not others. It creates discord.
We decided to ask PHASE Nepal to advise us how we could help. They said we could, and suggested using lights as an incentive, and in this case, and incentive for pregnant women to attend an ante-natal programme. Complete the programme, learn through the process, and receive a light as a reward.
So this is what is happening. We’re trying to get 200 lights to cover that programme for a year. It’s started and doing well already.
Climbing (or trail running) mountainous ranges can be exhilarating as well as a dangerous experience for those who dare. Depending on individual capacity, altitude sickness can appear in mountain climbers any time between 8000 to over 12000 feet above ground level. Often at times, altitude sickness is dependent on the climbing speed of the individual rather than the height itself.
[This post is provided by Dr Felix in UK. It relates to climbing, but it applies too for running. This information should help runners preparing for Nepal’s Mustang and Manaslu Trail Races. Enjoy, and please ask any further questions at the bottom.
And before reading, athletes, please note this from high altitude doctor, Suvash Dawadi.
I write this email to suggest some additions to FAQs and information regarding use of acetazolamide (Diamox) use in races in Nepal. I think we should point out on the website itself that Acetazolamide is on the list of banned substances both in and out of competition by World anti-doping Agency. While this might be OK for an amateur racer, I know we have a few competitions who are involved in races elsewhere including road races and marathons. So it might be a good idea to just put something about the possible doping issue. Also if anyone who does participate in WADA governed sport decides to take diamox as prophylaxis, he/she should fill a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) form with their respective doping agencies. If you have an athlete should require treatment with Diamox, again they have to notify the authorities back home and file for a retroactive TUE. Dr Suvash Dawadi
Cause of Altitude Sickness
People have a hard time climbing up heights because of the environmental change they have to face at elevated levels. Normal quantity of oxygen is 21% in air on ground, with air pressure around 760mmHg. At elevated levels, air pressure starts decreasing, so the number of oxygen particles in the air reduce in correlation. For example, air pressure at 12,000 feet high altitude is only 480mmHg approximately, so the body has to adjust the 40% less amount of oxygen in air at that specific height (Swenson & Bärtsch, 2014).
Moreover, lower air pressure and higher altitude also produces fluid build-up as it disturbs internal blood pressure, while forcing red blood cells to work more in order to cope with lost oxygen levels.
Advantage of Diamox
Diamox tablets for altitude acclimatisation
Diamox is a prescription medicine also sold under its generic name acetazolamide which can reduce and prevent altitude sickness (West, et al., 2007). It helps in reducing the shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and headaches, which commonly occur at high altitude. Moreover, it reduces the bodily fluid build-up that occurs with low air pressure.
Avoid Cheyne Stokes Respiration
Cheyne Stokes respiration is a condition that many people experience at high altitudes. This occurs normally during the sleeping period at higher altitudes. Your body breathes periodically, alternating between no breathing, and heavy breathing (Netzer, et al., 2013). Not only does this condition cause trouble for the climbers, but it can also scare them. By taking Diamox at night, Cheyne Stokes can be reduced and climbers can sleep better.
Usage Instructions for Climbers
Altitude sickness is best prevented by planning ahead. Start taking Diamox at least 24 hours before you start your climbing adventure and continue throughout your climb. Stop your Diamox at least 48 hours after you have finished climbing. At times, you may need to continue for the entire duration of your stay at high altitude. If altitude sickness gets severe, stop relying on Diamox and descend as soon as possible. Doctors normally recommend a dosage of 125mg or a 250mg tablet, to be administered twice a day.
Care during Diamox Intake
Diamox is a diuretic and reduces potassium levels in the body. Therefore, it is recommended that while you are taking Diamox, you should drink as much water as possible. Moreover, you should stick to a high-potassium diet such as bananas, green vegetables and oranges while you’re on Diamox. Diamox which contains the active ingredient acetazolamide should be avoided if in case the patient has low blood levels of potassium or sodium, adrenal gland problem, kidney or liver disease.
Acclimatisation is the process of ascending elevated heights at a slow pace. For example, if you climb up a steep mountainous range such as Kilimanjaro, you will be at a greater disadvantage as compared to trekking over low peaks and ridges. Once you have covered 10,000 feet above ground, make an aim of climbing only 300-500m height in 24 hours. Climbing at this pace can help prevent mountain sickness altogether (DrFelix, 2014).
Consult a Doctor Immediately
There are two dangerous conditions associated with altitude sickness that require immediate medical attention, and cannot be treated with Diamox. First condition is the accumulation of fluid in the lungs, termed as High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) (Bock & Hultgren, 1986). If you feel extremely short of breath while everyone else is back to normal, you need to seek help immediately.
Second condition is the accumulation of fluid in the brain, termed as High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE). Symptoms of HACE include loss of coordination, lethargy and general change in behaviour. Moreover, HACE can also cause cognitive impairment (Zafren, 2000).
In case of either HACE or HAPE, it is urgent that the patient should descend at least 500 to 1000 meters below the current altitude, and should not be delayed. Moreover, the patient should be administered hyperbaric oxygen and oxygen steroids.
High altitudes require great respect. If you consider yourself to be a muscular and strong person, do not assume that you can battle your way through to high places. Often, people who are overconfident about their strengths are the ones who struggle the most at high places. Take your medicine as prescribed, follow best practice for climbing and all the safety rules for successful climb and a good experience. You can order altitude sickness tablets from UK registered online doctor & pharmacy services like DrFelix.co.uk at a reasonable cost and have it delivered to your home before you set off for your climb.
Bock, J. & Hultgren, H. N., 1986. Emergency Maneuver in High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema. JAMA, 255(23), pp. 3245-3246.
Netzer, N. et al., 2013. Hypoxia‐Related Altitude Illnesses. Journal of Travel Medicine, 20(4), pp. 247-255.
Swenson, E. R. & Bärtsch, P., 2014. High Altitude: Human Adaptation to Hypoxia. New York, NY: Springer New York.
West, J. B., Schoene, R. B., Milledge, J. S. & Ward, M. P., 2007. High altitude medicine and physiology. 4th ed. London, UK: Hodder Arnold.
Congratulations to Bed and Bishnu Maya for great performances in Hong Kong this weekend.
Bishnu Maya Budha finishing in 4th place
It’s Bishnu Maya‘s fourth and fifth trail races and her second 50km event. She looked pretty beaten up at the end, but that can be expected from Michael Maddess’s hilly Lantau course with the awesome-crazy 900m Dog’s Teeth climb. And she tooth a nasty fall between CP2 and CP3 which shook her up. All in all a baptism of fire.
Bishnu has been training for a bit more than a year in her local running club – a rare thing in Nepal. In the past year that she has been racing, she’s improved a lot. This experience in Hong Kong will be valuable, giving her an idea of what it is all about, and giving some focus for future. She’s just 19, or 18, and certainly has potential, and certainly at the longer events.
Today’s 5th placed runner, John Ellis of Gone Running said, “Both Bede and Bishnu had great races, though Bede lost a bit of time with a couple wrong turns. Amazed at Bishnu – a real talent there and such a lovely person too,” and he went on, “… so much potential. She is still learning about nutrition and hydration, and pacing was a little off, but that’s a good thing – easy wins.How else can we help her?”
Bed lost time before CP1 and approaching Cp4 loosing 1st place twice. A little more time to inspect the course would help, but so would a little more attention to the course markers. This course is well marked and it should be difficult to go off route – put it down to hard effort running in the zone.
Bed works at Nepal Army and Bishnu is not looking at too many great opportunities back in Nepal so we’ve set up a small fund to help her train for a year and see how far she can go in 2016: Contribute Bishnu’s athlete fund here!
Bishnu Maya Budha reviewing bloody knee from fall between CP2 and CP3
Double Prize 50k Top 5 Men Name – Nationality – Team/Sponsor – Time 1. Eirik Haugsnes – Norway – Inov8 – 06:35:20 2. Bed Bahadur Sunuwar – Nepal – Nepal – 06:39:48 3. Vlad Ixel – Australia – The North Face – 07:13:02 4. Orlando Edwards – United Kingdom – 07:24:22 5. Haron Kiprugut Bor – Kenya – 07:46:04
Double Prize 50k Top 3 Women Name – Nationality – Team/Sponsor – Time 1. Maud Gobert – France – Adidas – 08:01:12 2. Bishnu Maya Budha – Nepal – Nepal – 08:36:29 3. Rebecca Nakuwa – Kenya – 08:41:14
MSIG Lantau 50- HK50 Series 50K Top 5 Men Name – Nationality – Team/Sponsor – Time 1. François D’Haene – France – Salomon – 5:42:40 2. Eirik Haugsnes – Norway – Inov8 – 5:56:33 3. Bed Bahadur Sunuwar – Nepal – 05:59:12 4. Vlad Ixel – Australia – The North Face – 06:27:27 5. John Ellis – Australia – 06:27:30
Top 5 Women Name – Nationality – Team/Sponsor – Time 1. Maud Gobert – France – Adidas – 7:08:42 2. Marie McNaughton – New Zealand – Gone Running/Joint Dynamics – 7:29:47 3. Rebecca Nakuwa – Kenya – 7:42:56 4. Bishnu Maya Budha – Nepal – 7:44:39 5. Sally Chelagat Kipyego – Kenya – 8:23:13
The hardest part for Nepali trail runners is getting to the start line. There are few races in Nepal that offer real learning experiences for elite runners.
Bishnu Maya, first place in her first international race.
To get the the top as a trail runner, you have run with the best trail runners. Roger Henke explains it well at the end of this blog post:
Before Nepal has a chance of becoming widely known and recognized for its mountain running talent the pool of individuals that compete for the possibility to compete on the world stage needs to grow, not a bit but by several factors. And that requires a training and youth sports infrastructure that is totally absent in Nepal. But, as in Kenya, Ethiopia and Jamaica, it all has to start somewhere and it always starts with a couple of individuals who are hors catégorie and make it on the world stage. And these individuals all need(ed) a little bit of outside help to get there and be able to show their qualities.
So it’s great then to have an opportunity for another young girl to show her ability, and discover a lot more. Mira first saw, with eyes as big as dinner plates, what international elite trail running was in Chamonix at the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc in 2014. Now Bishnu Maya Budha gets the same in Hong Kong. A smaller event that in Chamonix, but still a fantastic setting to learn what trail running is about and, even better, with a tight community of dedicated runners who’re helping her find her feet.
Bed Sunuwar‘s pretty lucky incidentally. He’s raced before in Hong Kong, China and Switzerland, but somehow has had fewer opportunities that he could or should have. If he was better at the marathon though, he might not have received permission letter from the army to allow him leave to get to Hong Kong. In terms of running in Nepal, the marathon event beats trail running every time. Coaches complain that trail running slows marathon runners down. They might be right, on the flat at least, but it is a terrible missed opportunity looking at the bigger picture.
Matt ran with Bishnu Maya as he did with Mira last year.
[ December 5, 2015 12:04 ] Matt Moroz: 51:00 on the nose for her or even just under. I was at the end taking pics so she may well have done 50:45. Not quite as fast as Mira but she destroyed the competition and wasn’t at all pushed. She probably had more up her sleeve.
So this sounds good for Sunday and the 50km race, which is the big event of the weekend. Many runners skip the VK and save themselves for the 50km. So Bed and Bishnu Maya could be a little tired on the start line, but no less determined to claim another trophy.
Congratulations to both of them and huge thanks to their support team in Hong Kong: Matt, Jeri, Steve, Retha, Deer Horn, Gone Running, Lantau Base Camp, and Michael Maddess at Action Asia Events. Thanks too of course to those who paid the bill to get them there through our small but effective fund raiser last weekend. Great!
Top 5 Men – Name-Nationality-Team/Sponsor-Time 1. Joseph Gray-United States-Mío Global, Spenco-38:35 2. Eirik Haugsnes-Norway-Inov8-38:47 3. Bed Bahadur Sunuwar-Nepal TEAM-Nepal-40:36 4. Orlando Edwards – UK – 40:44 5. Anders Kleist-Sweden-IL Akele-41:27
Top 5 Women Name-Nationality-Team/Sponsor-Time 1. Bishnu Maya Budha-Nepal-Nepal-51:50 2. Maud Gobert-France-Adidas-52:30 3. Charlotte Henry-France-54:05 4. Rebecca Nakuwa-Kenya-55:18 5. Nicole Lau-Hong Kong-55:28
Manaslu Trail Race 2015 – words and images by Mark Brightwell
The race starts in gloomy greyness at Soti Khola, 700m above sea level and flanked by the roaring waters of the Bhudi Gandaki. We will follow this river to its source at the snout of a glacier below the towering twin summits of Manaslu but not directly. That would be too easy. Instead we climb away from the river, through the inversion and into glorious sunshine, our spirits rising in conjunction with our altimeter readings.
Having climbed a vertical kilometer our path starts to traverse, taking us first through Lapu and then along to Lapsibot where a flattened heap of rubble bears testament to where the school once stood. The epicenter of the 25 April earthquake was just a few kilometers from here; the race wraps around it like a horseshoe.
A multi-day mountain race that not only covers 185km and ascends nearly 15 vertically but that also circumnavigates the epicenter of a recent earthquake? Clearly this is no ordinary race.
After sweeping down an airy ridgeline the sandy trail descends through pine forest all the way back to the banks of the Budhi Gandaki. The final kilometers to Korlabeshi are flat, rocky and hot but salvation is at hand: cups of hot lemon at the Finish Line and better yet, the cold refreshing pools of the river in which to bathe.
On Stage Two we learn the meaning of ‘Nepali flat’: whilst the trail follows the course of the river, as it does so, it rises and falls so much that by the end of a 30km day the total ascent is still comfortably running to four figures. We reach Pewa and are accommodated there in a new wooden lodge. The sound of the river once more ushers us gently towards our dreams.
Each day is a transition. Today we leave jungled hillsides behind and criss- crossing the mighty river, climb steadily into an alpine wonderland. In Namrung we pass women working in the fields, taking out potatoes from the earth where they have been stored. Further up, on an exposed crest at Lihi a lady in the fine colourful Tibetan dress is using the wind to sift wheat from chaff.
At a fork we bear left and climb away from the main trail towards Hinang Gomba, a Buddhist monastery where we receive a warm welcome and have our first taste of thukpa, a Tibetan soup, thick with freshly made noodle and vegetables and highly restorative. At the head of the valley towers Himal Chuli, a southern satellite of the as yet unseen Manaslu.
The speed is a shock and my eyes stream with tears as they’re blasted with cold morning air. I catch a trailing foot on the rocky ground and sprawl forwards, sliding on all fours across the dirt before picking myself, no harm done, and continuing my downward trajectory.
Back in the main valley we reach Lho where the distinctive M-shaped peaks of Manaslu dominate the skyline. Again deviating up a side valley, we climb straight for them and arrive in spite of the best efforts of gravity at a barely conceivable plateau, flanked on three sides by mountains and at the very furthest recess of which lies our Check Point.
Tite Togni crossing the huge plateau under Manaslu’s east face
This particular Check Point allows a ‘Check In, Check Out’ system whereby the race clock stops as you arrive and only re-starts when you depart. A stroke of compassionate genius by the race organisers, this means that the splendour of the setting can be enjoyed at leisure and the body can start to acclimatise and recover before hurtling back down to the main valley.
From our new base the format changes slightly and we have the luxury of two nights in one place! The day’s racing, an out and back from Samagaon to Manaslu Base Camp, is quite possibly the world’s highest vertical kilometer race. It’s a battle to ascend at speed from 3550m to 4750m and the ‘Check In, Check Out’ is again a welcome opportunity to rest, acclimatise and appreciate the incredible surroundings.
Stephan Tassani-Prell defending his ascent win on the descent.
At Samagaon, as part of its mission to encourage and develop trail running, race organisers, Trail Running Nepal, link up with the local school to hold a one kilometer race. Apparently oblivious to the effects of altitude that have been steadily slowing us down, the children tear through the village, pass beneath the recently re-built chorten and take the Finish Line. Their sunlit faces portray a mixture of excitement and curiosity.
From Samagaon a short day takes us to Samdo, another ethnically Tibetan village. The nearby border has just been opened and caravans of yak pass through on international shopping missions. For some, the temptation of going to the border with Tibet is too great and they follow the yak. For others the temptation of bed is greater and they enjoy a slumbersome rest day.
Yaks at the Rui La going to Tibet.
Having climbed over the course of the week through various ever-sparser biospheres we must now cross the barren post-glacial wastes of the Larkye La, the 5160m pass that stands between us and the resumption of our race and the final descent to Dharapani.
We start out in the dark, a snake of headlights heading into the inky blackness. Long before the sun finds its way above the horizon, the snow- covered flanks of Manaslu are lighting up a magical pre-dawn purple. Ahead of us the inky blackness recedes towards the far horizon.
The long gradual ascent through snow-covered fields of moraine eventually leads to the welcome sight of prayer flags, beyond which the earth drops steeply revealing a new vista; a desolate, harsh landscape of snow and rock.
The steep descent eventually gives way to a gentler gradient. We turn the corner into a misty valley strewn with boulders and flanked by forest. The hardy trees are adorned with hanging mosses that move, ghost-like with the breeze. At the foot of this valley is Bhimtang, our final stopping point.
After the cold concrete of Samdo, the warm wooden huts of Bimtang, not to mention the flowing beer and fresh-made pizza, ensure that our final evening is passed in high spirits and to the sound of laughter.
Whilst sections of ‘Nepali flat’ go some way to slowing our progress, the 22km descent from Bimtang to Dharapani nonetheless flashes by and we are all too soon passing under the Finish banner for the final time.
The race has been many things to many people. For some it was their first taste of Nepal. For many it was their first experience of a multi-day event. For the three young Nepali runners, sponsored by Trail Running Nepal, it’s the first chance not only to race in an international field but also to spend time among foreigners, practice their English and learn something of the world beyond Nepal’s borders. For the communities we’ve passed among we hope it’s reinforced the notion that after the earthquake trauma of six months ago, normal life can resume: tourists are returning and with them, a more positive outlook for their livelihoods.
For me what stands out most is the beauty not only of being able to travel through such spectacular mountains, sometimes running, sometimes, walking, sometimes stopping to take breath, a photograph or a moment’s reflection but to be able to do this in the company of such a wonderful, diverse but above all, friendly and buoyant group of fellow athletes.
It’s nice, we’re filling in the visa application form together. “It’s beautiful,” she says, thumbing through the pages of the passport. Phunchok from the Himalayan Children’s Foundation is observing, nodding. Bishnu Maya is staying at the home they have with nearly 100 students, many of whom are runners who train regularly in the week, thus a perfect place for Bishnu to be right now – just a week away from a big race.
The passport is a work of art as most seem to be these days. A beautiful and expensive thing – this one cost about $US100 in order to be completed within a week. When thinking she could race in Hong Kong, it was easy to overlook that Bishnu Maya might not have a passport. But the plan for Hong Kong is still on. If tomorrow she gets a wink that the visa will be issued, then she can go to Dragon Air and buy the flight ticket.
So tomorrow (Monday 30) is visa day.
[Update: so far at 2pm no good news 🙁 so we keep waiting.]
Regardless of if she gets it or not, it looks good for the next time at least. The support from the Hong Kong end has been great.
Jeri Chua at Race Base has been fantastic coordinating a few of the troops there. Steve Carr and Gone Running signed up to provide great shoes suitable for the courses. The organisation Free to Run, have promised a package of running stuff for Bishnu, include the right pack, bottles etc. Others have offer help at the races, cfrewing and support, which is fabulous.
It’s a big thing to race and not just run, to run hard, to eat and drink enough and properly, to save seconds at aid stations, toilets, obstacles etc. To know the route enough in advance, to listen to your body not to over cook it, and on this course, to save enough for Dogs Tooth, the crazy rocky ridge climb, and subsequent descent, ascent and long descent.
So Bishnu has Thursday and Friday to warm up to that! Around her she has Bed Sunuwar who’s very experienced. And of course Matt Moroz who knows everything about running in Hong Kong. Jeri will be there for the VK too on Saturday.
Wow – it is quite exciting! Just needs a visa.
Should things go well, there is The North Face 100 the following weekend where the 50km or 100km events are open for Bed and Bishnu. Shame they couldn’t make a team. Next time.
OK, tomorrow 10am at the China visa office. If we have good news we’ll report back here.
UPDATE: Still no good news. So while waiting, we went to try archery!
Home! Finished in 49:55hrs. Thanks every one for the messages and good wishes. And huge thanks to Mark Brightwell for running with me all night and listening to me hiccup for the last 6 hours. I’m hitting the shower and then bed. #Team7Hills
50 hour face! Photo: Mark Brightwell – click for original post
Congratulations Seth. This is 50 hours of effort with no sleep. Great that people think up these challenges, and then do some research and then ‘just do it’. This is not easy. We’ll find out from Seth the exact distance and altitude change, but something like 180km and … 15000m of ups and downs?
Right now Lizzy is more than half way around the Manaslu Circuit which she just completed on the Manaslu Trail Race. So well acclimatised, and familiar with the route, she is charging around sleepless. Now (Sat Nov 28: 13:30) she has just crossed the pass.
Still some 100km to go for her.
Back to Seth’s valley rim run. There’s a certainly a great 3- or 4-day training camp in there. The Kathmandu Valley is beautiful at most times of the year. Plenty of tea-shops to refill calories and liquids and some accommodation too in convenient places.
So have a think about that. Mean while good luck Lizzy & sleep well Seth! Congratulations!
“The stupid Official Volunteer directed Kiran to turn right instead of straight towards the dam. He thought the route might have changed, but they ended back at the starting point losing 1 hr 5 mins,” said coach Ramesh Bhattachan, “While going downhill Ras slipped and hurt his right thigh. Anyway they carried on till Check Point 8 Tai Mo San and I decided that he could not continue as they had walked all the way from Shin Mun to Tai Mo San. He dropped out officially and the three continued and completed in 15 hrs 5 mins.”
Definitely some lessons learned at last weekend’s Oxfam Trailwalker event.
You can read a full interview with the sponsor Awoo Wear, over beer and tabasco sauce, here:
Awoo did a great thing. Columbia previously had sponsored the team, but pulled out of covering flight costs. The HK trail running community as usual worked out how it could help. A week or so later, enough sponsorship to get the team over with food and board, and some fantastic running shirts to boot.
“Milos Pintrava has been a fantastic sponsor with a great support team,” said Ramesh.
1st – 2XU UFO – 11 hrs 58 mins
2nd – Champion System HK – 12 hrs 25 mins
3rd – Xempower Europe – 12 hrs 52 mins
Ramesh had forecasted that, “our team would break the record with a target of 10 hrs 50 mins. If we had not been guided in the wrong direction, technically the team would have finished in 10 hrs 53 minutes with a new race record,” he claims.
However, “Lady luck was not on our side. We will try next year.”
Well done guys.
In between action shots during a photo shoot with AWOO Team Nepal, I put the DSLRs away & pulled out my old Mamiya 645…
Our decision to walk from Dhunche to Kathmandu over the Tihar weekend was based partly on aesthetics and partly on pragmatism. Aside from the undeniable beauty of the Gosaikunda lakes and the spectacular views of Langtang the route has various logistical advantages. For one it is accessible within a four-hour drive from Kathmandu which is always useful when most domestic flights are being cancelled. For another it is doable in 3-4 days (at a brisk walk) and so can be fitted into a long weekend. The following is brief account of our trip which might be of use to anyone wanting up to date information on the route to do a fastpack run or a hike as we did.
View of himalayas from near Gosaikunda
Day 1 (Thursday): Breakfast in KTM. Drove in a jeep to Dhunche (please don’t ask how much we had to pay for a jeep). Arrived 3pm and started walking. Initially we intended to walk for a couple of hours in order to help with acclimatising and time us more of a time cushion. We were soon regretting this idea when both Deurali and Dimsa proved to be unoccupied (there were some lodges standing but none were open). After a couple of hours of walking in the dark and some disconcerting animal noises, just when had resigned ourselves to a very cold night in a cow shed, we stumbled upon the Red Panda lodge in Shin Gompa. Never has the cocktail of a smoky fire, hot dahl bhat and soft bed seems so appealing.
Day 2 (Friday): Early start with lots of climbing. By lunchtime we were over the first pass at 4165m. Rather unhelpfully Map House had marked the Gosaikunda lakes at 3480 (instead of 4380) which meant we were falsely anticipating an additional 1000m of descent and ascent between the passes. I was persuaded to join some Germans in one of the coldest swims of my life after which we recovered by having a scenic lunch by the lake. After that we were quickly over the 4610m Laurebina pass. We had optimistically anticipated picking up the pace on the descent but the terrain proved challenging (and our legs were pretty shakey) so we opted to stop in Phedi.
The many lakes at Gosaikunda
Day 3 (Saturday): There had been clear evidence of earthquake damage throughout the route but from Phedi this became much starker. Most settlements were largely destroyed with just the occasional tea house that had been rebuilt. The trail too was badly affected with several major, yet not insurmountable landslides. In most cases previous guides had generously marked out the most accessible routes. A short distance after Thadepathi the route had detoured over (rather than around) a small hill due to a massive landslide although this too was fortunately well marked. Another 8-9 hour day took us to Kutumsang where there were 2 or 3 lodges in various states of reconstruction.
Day 4 (Sunday): Needing to be in KTM by mid-afternoon we set off early. The route actually became slightly harder to follow and we entered more populated areas. Each village seemed more damaged than the last as we made our way through Chipling and down to Chisapani. The final push was over Borlang Bhanyang and then down the never ending steps to Sundarijal. We were relieved to find a half empty bus heading for KTM. After 1 hour, 5km and about 60 people perching on the bus our relief turned to frustration and then abject terror (at several points I was convinced we were about to tip).
As anyone who has ever been lucky enough to walk it can testify this is a stunning route. The great views north into Langtang and beautiful lakes are hard to beat and it benefits from the ease of access. Although some guides will list it as a 6-7 day walk it can be done in 3-5 and doesn’t require long drives or flights. Due to what looks like some hard work by locals the trail is definitely walkable (although obviously requires the usual care and precautions). There are certainly fewer occupied villages and tea-houses/lodges along the way but there are still enough to be comfortable. Many locals complained about the dearth of visitors and the Spring season is likely to be crucial in determining how much reinvestment returns to the region.
Matt first came to Nepal for the Mustang Trail Race. There he met Mira Rai in just her second trail race. There after he put together a training programme for her, and coached her through four amazing MSIG series races in Hong Kong from October 2014 to February 2015 – read about supporting Mira Rai in this post. Lantau was the training base, and while back in Nepal, Mira received training programmes for him. Mira Rai loved it there, the running community was super supportive, and she learned a huge amount about competitive running.
Now Matt is Race Director of the China Mountain Trails trail running series. Here’s the location of one of his races below.
Matt and Mira at a finish in Hong Kong.
So the good news is that China Mountain Trails through Matt is keen to continue helping support Nepali runners. Mira did so well in and after Hong Kong and Matt knows that there are other runners with potential just waiting for an opportunity.
So, for the Kathmandu Ultra on January 2nd, China Mountain Trails is giving the first male and female in the 50km and 80km categories will be able to race in China in 2016.
It’s such a privilege to support Nepali trail races and runners in this way. After running in Nepal and working closely with some of Nepal’s finest, we feel blessed to be able to offer these prizes. It’ll be so exciting to welcome 4 great Nepali runners to our races in 2016. – Matt Moroz, Race Director, China Mountain Trails
Thanks a lot Matt, Sandy and team. This is a fantastic opportunity for four young athletes.
It’s not an official ISF sanctioned Vertical Kilometre race, but fulfils the criteria and is beautiful to boot. Hard work though, because of the altitude – from about 3500m to 4800m, we’ll update with the GPX track data later. But here are some of the photos from that stage of the Manaslu Mountain Trail Race 2015 and the one preceding. November in Nepal gives some awesome clear skies. Can be cold in the evenings, but for tough trail runners ,it is not much of an issue if you get to run in conditions like this!
It’s a vertical Kilometre at altitude! Gian Mario Campostrini  powering the 1200m descent.
Babara Tassani Prell enjoying the rewards after the big climb…
Tite Togni the Italian Yoga Runner showing what yoga can do for you wearing Mira Rai’s green wig.
Laufsport Tassani in Nepal – the duo negotiating a trail 1200m above the morning start point. First stage hard work.
Stephan Tassani Prell won on the ascent, trying to win on the descent.
And if you are looking for the world’s highest, how could we forget Bruno Poirier and Les Chevaliers du Vents. “Vertical Race Annapurna Mandala Trail (2012, 2013, 2015) : 10 km +1750 m. Muktinath (3670 m) – Thorong La (5420 m).”
As trail runners we can certainly spend a moment to reflect what we can do with our legs and what that means for us. We can probably also try to image what suffering a serious injury or loss of a limb might mean.
This happened to many people at the time of the earthquake, who were hit or crushed by falling masonry or rocks. There are few facilities to care for people with such injuries. After 90 days, the period that amputees must be observed to ensure the amputation has properly healed, hospitals are forced to discharge their patients through the simple need to free up space for the next patient. Subsequent treatment, physiotherapy and prosthetic limb fitting is not a service readily provided. These are people, remember, who’ve not been at their home since the earthquake, if they have a home standing at all.
Handing over a cheque for $1200
One dedicated hospital worker, Samrat Basnet, (just recognised for his work Nov 29) saw this 90 discharge process happening and decided to do something to help. To cut a long story short, he rented an old unfurnished house and set up a makeshift clinic called Nepal Healthcare Equipment Development Foundation (NHEDF). You can see him in some of the photos below wearing glasses. With the help of some volunteers and professionals alike, NHEDF is helping some 30 or so patients to get back on their feet, literally. The clinic has running costs of about $4k per month and with a mixture of individual and institution donations it has just managed to scrape by so far.
Samrat Basnet Founder/Chairman Nepal Healthcare Equipment Development Foundation Kathmandu, Nepal Mobile No: +9779851015746
Published by Ashutosh Tiwari on his Facebook page. 7 August 2015 at 20:27 CURIOSITY SERIES V: 5 QUESTIONS TO RICHARD BALL
Richard, a long-time friend of Nepal, is the man who popularized trail running in this country.
ASHU: We’ve heard of running in general and of marathons. But what is this trail running? How is trail running different from, well, just running?
RICHARD: The American trail running Association has thought hard about this so I don’t have to. They say trail running has four elements: 1) uses unpaved tracks; 2) has natural obstacles; 3) significant elevation gain/loss i.e. hilly; and 4) scenic. As you can guess it’s less about a hard rule or definition and more about encompassing the spirit of this sport and why people like it – running in beautiful, and often very challenging, natural environments.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that you introduced trail running in Nepal? How did you get into trail running yourself? What made you decide that Nepal’s hilly terrain is ideal for trail running?
RICHARD: I didn’t introduce it but could say that I have worked to popularise it (with limited success). Roger Henke, onetime Director of the Summit Hotel in Kupondole, got me into trail running and taught me to run without crashing my heels to the ground. My pains and injuries faded away. We’d do slow Saturday runs with friends to discover new places and we’d cover some very long distances stopping for tea at many places on the way. I learned that the body is capable of a lot, if you train it slowly, no matter how flabby your starting condition.
Nepal is obviously ideal for trail running. It is a nation of foot trails connecting tens of thousands of villages. And of course it is possible to stay almost any place along the way, and in pretty good comfort in trekking areas. So a great place for people who want to come and run and explore for several days.
QUESTION: Nepali trail runner Mira Rai’s victories in ultra-marathon (i.e 100 KM) type of European races recently have given rise to this sense that there must be many other naturally gifted trail runners in Nepal. Do you think so? If, how can those latent talents be flourished?
RICHARD: It’s a big project. One route is this: First you have to be able to find talent. That means holding enough small races around the country and advertising them reasonably well, then hope that talented people show up. Then the best of the runners bring together in another race, perhaps in Kathmandu or a district or zone centre. If there is a real talent there then there has to be a scheme to assist.
This kind of programme exists in many countries. It’s very simple: small salary, equipment, training plan, advice and so on. Where does this lead though? We need to develop a couple of high profile races here in Nepal for people to aim towards.
Racing overseas is not guaranteed: it requires money and a certain type of person to be able to function well in another country. The second route is for the Nepal’s Athletics Federation to acknowledge trail running as a sport, and make it a competitive event for police and army, and then bingo. Right now I have racing opportunities in China with free flights and prize money and nobody to go.
QUESTION: What are the challenges and the constraints of making trail running a bona fide sport in Nepal in terms of logistics, economics and science?
RICHARD: Beyond it being accepted as an event in its own right with a number of events, then organising quality events becomes the next problem. It’s hard to get lost or take a shortcut running around a track. In the hills I’ve lost many people due to ambiguous or unclear trail marking, and idiots who remove trail markers.
We’ve figured this out now but the bottom line is making a trail race is a lot of work and it has to be done to a high enough standard that the result is fair and trusted by the runners. On top of that prize money draws the best runners in and sponsors are needed for that. Army runner Samir Tamang says that Mira’s last win has changed opinions considerably within the army. People are asking about the sport and what she is doing. So now is the time to do something.
QUESTION: Now that some trail runners are competing and winning in some of the global tournaments, some people are dreaming of riches . . . is this true? How can runners like Mira and others manage finances while pursuing their passion on the trails all over the world?
RICHARD: If they want riches, then better try setting up their own business. There is not much money for athletes in running (though getting bigger in China right now). It’s like anything else actually. A million books are published in the states each year and perhaps less than 10 make a million dollars in revenue. There are only a handful of people making a living from running, and certainly not big money, and those people are not only good runners, but are good at representing their sponsors, speaking nicely, looking nice and being real brand ambassadors.
For the brands, a winner is important, but not nearly as important as a lower ranked athlete with a great personality who can represent the brand and encourage more people to get into the sport and buy products. This aside, nobody is going to win in this or any sport without some kind of passion for it.
People can dream all they like about riches, but it is passion, hard work, and a lot of luck that will bring success. For the rest, they get to enjoy the benefits of running and racing, and if very lucky, feel they’ve fulfilled their potential and have the chance to see a new country once in a while.
BONUS QUESTION: How can the Nepal government, our various sports bodies and Nepal’s private sector help promote this sport all the more?
RICHARD: Well the same way they promote any other sport, minus the negatives. I’d say the government should consult with people like Samir Tamang who can explain how the sport works in other countries and his understanding of what needs to happen.
I guess someone high up needs to ask the question honestly, does having Nepal runners winning races and unfurling the flag as they cross the line sound like a good thing or not.
Around 300 came to an 18km trail race in Nagarkot on August the 1st. The organisers did a great job of promoting. The private sector can take note that there are new opportunities to get large groups of people out challenging themselves and get fresh publicity in the media as sponsors. THE END
(Please share this, if you wish, and do write your comments.)
This is a fundraiser to help restore Nepal’s damaged heritage sites. This is a great idea, to sell wonderful historic prints from the Nepal photography archive, and Peace Corps volunteers, to raise money for this specific cause. Click the image below to see all of the images offered, and info about the deal with DHL to ship with up to 70% discount.
From the organisers:
Namaste and greetings from Kathmandu!
The April and May earthquakes in Nepal have caused tremendous loss of lives and livelihoods. In addition to losing homes and infrastructure, the Nepali people have lost many important heritage sites. Rebuilding these sites will be as important as rebuilding homes and other infrastructure. It will create employment for thousands, boost tourism- an industry that employs millions, and most importantly restore a sense of identity for the Nepali people who have strong cultural and emotional ties to these sites.
Photo Kathmandu, an international photography festival that will be launching in November, is promoting a Special Print Sale to raise funds to contribute towards the rebuilding of heritage sites in Patan. This Special Print Sale features 35 beautiful photographs contributed by two archives – Nepal Picture Library and the Nepal Peace Corps Archive, and is being managed pro bono by photo.circle and Kazi Studios.