A quick summary of the events at the Trail World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. Nepal had 3 individual runners in the race: Sunmaya Budha, Arjun Kulung Rai, and Sworupa Khadka, all competing in the “long”Trail Long” race of ~86 km with D+ of 6500 (the total climb). That is a huge amount of climbing for such a distance. The weather was hot, and all in all it looked like a crazily tough experience for anyone starting the race.

Sunmaya and Arjun are sponsored by The North Face Adventure Team in Hong Kong, and Director Ryan Blair summarised their team’s efforts as follows,

“Crazy tough day for everyone just to finish that brutal course. … Arjun still managed to also hang on in the top 50 despite leg cramps last 7 hours of race. Sunmaya is also in good spirits despite her injury disappointment. Huge congrats to anyone finishing today’s World Champ course – a true mountain running monster no one will ever forget!”

Earlier Sunmaya had to withdraw. We can imagine how disappointing that must have been for her. Ryan posted,

“Big drama on [the] course! …Sunmaya had to withdraw from race…her calf strain injury from couple months ago came back and too much pain and big risk for further injury. She’s super bummed but she knows she tried her best. Sometimes we all have bad luck – even the current world champion today from France also had to stop after 2 hours from injury. Sunmaya will take the cable car down from the top of mountain so can rest the injury and cause no more issue.”

Alpine scenery
It had little bit of everything – alpine mountains, forests, snow, mud, ridge, rocks, east coast kinda trails with roots and rocks, runnable part, steep downhills and climbs, tarmac, cow traffic. Photo: Sworupa Khadka

Sworupa ended the race at about 60 km. She said:

“I was stopped at mile 40. We were already on the tarmac and I was passing runners hammering 8:30-9 minute mile pace to somehow make it [to the next cutoff] by 8:30pm but they stopped me at 7pm. I’m happy I was able to run all the beautiful and tough sections of course. Learnt a lot!

Looks like lot of DNFs or missing the cutoffs especially for the women. The cutoff was kind of aggressive for this course, but well…it’s the world championships.”

This is the third time Nepal has appeared at the Trail World Championships. Nepal also sent a team to Spain in 2018 (report here), and to Portugal in 2019 (report here).

Congratulations to Arjun for his 50th place in the world championships, and to Sunmaya and Sworupa for doing their level best on the extreme course. Congratulations to Ryan Blair and Preeti Khattri for making everything happen to get Arjun and Sunmaya to the world championships. Funding and visas don’t grow on trees and it is always a huge amount of work to help Nepal’s athletes race overseas.

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