Here is the race director’s report for the Capital to Country Multi Day Ultra.
We did it! Our first international event, an incredible time with some great runners and an amazing team to work with. We are back next year, limited to 20 places, on the 24th November.
There aren’t many events which come with the description of being a cross between the Marathon des Sables and the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc.
But that’s what one of the runners called this incredible five day slog through the beautiful foothills of Nepal. The combination of rolling hills and gruelling climbs with a multi-day format meant I could certainly see how they’d come up with that particular comparison.
Before we even started running the experiences jumped at us – initially in the form of a gang of rather cheeky monkeys who we met during a visit to Kathmandu’s otherwise peaceful Monkey Temple. One of the presumptuous primates even grabbed themselves a Sprite bottle as a souvenir of our trip.
We were then privileged to receive a blessing from the local monks, wishing us luck before our incredible run got underway.
Day one of the race saw them up and about bright and early, departing Kathmandu for the ancient district of Sankhu, where the event was to start. Along the way, they received another monk-assisted blessing, you can’t take too many chances.
After heading off through the beautiful Sankhu gate, it didn’t take long until their first climb was upon them as they left Kathmandu in the valley below. The route snaked through jeep tracks cut in the mountain sides, taking in tree covered hills and breathtaking drops. As they meandered through a diverse mix of towns and villages, the full scale of the remoteness and mesmeric beauty of Nepal became clear.
In all, the constantly changing terrain of day one took the runners over 27 miles before we reached out camp for night at Kasibanjayang.
Day two brought more sensational scenery as they pulled themselves along jeep trails, through ancient villages and bustling towns, and into jungle and woodland. Waking early, and as bright as possible, the runners enjoyed a stunning mountain top sunrise and a quick breakfast before hitting the road 7am.
Then they were straight into another all too familiar climb as the route stretched from our Kasibanjayang base to Bhakundebesi. Along the way it was eye-opening to see the reaction of the friendly locals who were mesmerised by these crazy English runners winding way through their homeland. Despite their confusion, they didn’t hold back from cheering them along the way.
The first climb ended at the spectacular Dukhiel viewpoint, where the runners were transfixed by some mind-blowing scenery, before finally reaching the camp in the grounds of the Kutumba resort.
Day three arrived with a slightly rude awakening as we were roused from our slumbers by the chanting of a monk, and the somewhat less melodic barking of local dogs. Heading out from Bhakundebesi, the route was quickly developing in yet another epic climb, something that was becoming all too familiar.
The 30-mile day three route passed through the historic home of the Tangmang Empire, complete with cobbled roads, plentiful temples and religious sites. The numerous hard climbs were rewarded with some stunning vistas, while green hills, a glacial river and – eventually – a well-earned beach side camp welcomed tired limbs through a gruelling but rewarding day’s running.
The fourth day of the ultra experience may have been a shorter, 16-mile leg but it still came with plenty of climbing. We left the tranquility of our overnight riverside camp to haul ourselves up to the top of a path which supplied gorgeous views of the river valley below. Another lengthy climb followed, revealing more mind-blowing scenery, before starting the long descent back down to the river and a fun, if slippery, leap across some stepping stones to the opposite bank.
We picked my way along a particularly winding path alongside the main road, up another long climb and – gratefully – to the welcoming surrounds of Lamaland village, where we would stay on both days four and five. The finish line proved a real treat, as our hosts greeted us with garlands of flowers and an array of prayer flags and flower bowls.
With day five upon us, the runners set out on the final trek, a mere marathon-length 26-mile effort which finished with music from a Nepalese band that came complete with the world’s longest horn. A delightful evening followed with a delicious Nepalese meal and the opportunity to indulge in a few well-earned beers safe in the knowledge we only had a relatively short downhill walk to the road the following day.
It’s safe to say it was an epic week. Life is not about the amount of breaths we take, but the moments that take your breath away. We have all had our breath taken away at some point this week.
It was an absolute delight to organise the first take of this unique, bewitching event.