Recently we had an idea to try to shine the spotlight on Nepali trail runners. Here in Nepal are a number of fantastic athletes who, with little structured training, formal assistance, and often with little money, perform astoundingly. You could even say that a special few rank among the world’s top athletes though if you lived in Nepal, you’d hardly know it.
Rob Cousins who trained a couple of athletes here in Nepal for the Davos Ultra in 2010 had this to say:
Is it surprising that they run so far, over such terrain, so fast? The fastest foreigners don’t even get a look in. But oo I don’t think it’s so surprising. At least that is my opinion now having worked with them some months.
After all, they have no idea about running shoes, kit, getting your long runs in, time on your feet, the all important energy bar. No. These guys just run, and aim to get to the end. It’s as though they have no concept of limitations on their abilities. They just run fast, keep going, and hopefully it may get a bit easier….
Imagine what you could do if you had never seen an advert in the sports magazines telling you about something-or-other to run faster, or didn’t know what pronation was and what it does to you. Imagine if all you had to think about was just running forwards and enjoying the view.
That is why I am not surprised at what the Nepali runners can do. Remove your sense of your own limitations, and what do you think you could achieve?
You won’t find much about running on http://nepalisports.com/ (update – they do now!) and only occasionally will there be interest in the daily newspapers. (Football does pretty well for coverage, but you can check the world ranking of the Nepali football team here.)
And to be honest – if you asked me, I’d be able to give you a few names but little more than just names. I am just realising my ignorance.
I was asking Sylvain Bazin about how well Dawa Dachhiri Sherpa is known in France (‘maybe the most well known trail runner in France’ came the answer) and the name Harikona came up as the name of another legend. Well I searched and searched and found no information that was not in kanji Japanese. Hari who? “Harikona … the record holder for Everest marathon. We met him in Jumla during the Himal race.” A little more searching and then ‘Ahh’, Hari Rokaya! And wow – what a story.
So here begins an effort to piece together some information, some pictures and stories of Nepal’s mountain runners. Who knows, perhaps we’ll even manage to make a pack of Top Trumps. As I mentioned, I am ignorant, but I imagine the list will grow including Dawa Dachhiri, Phu Dorje Lama Sherpa, Nima Yangjee Sherpa, Sudip Rai and please you suggest the rest.
We’ll start with Hari, and I know Dear Reader you’ll be glad to help filling in the huge gaps of information using the comments form on each page.
The list so far…