The Trekk and Race

Mani Wall on the way to Namche Bazaar
Mani Wall on the way to Namche Bazaar

The Everest Marathon is a 24 day holiday in Nepal, combining sightseeing in the capital Kathmandu, a hard trek in the Everest region (vital for acclimatisation), ascents of Gokyo Ri and Kala Pattar for the best views of Everest, and then, one of the most gruelling races in the world.

In order to acclimatise naturally to the very high altitude, the race is preceded by a 15 day trek in the Everest region. This allows time for high altitude training under medical supervision. Before the race most people will have a chance to ascend both Gokyo Ri (5483m) and Kala Pattar (5623m) from where there are splendid views of Everest across the Khumbu glacier. After the race competitors are flown back to Kathmandu from the high altitude airstrip at Lukla.

The race starts at Gorak Shep (5184m), just below Everest base camp, and finishes in the Sherpa ‘capital’ of Namche Bazaar (3446m). The course is a measured 26.2 miles/42 km and, although it is basically downhill, the trail undulates and there are two steep uphill sections. The race starts at 6:30 am and there are cut-off points at Tengboche monastery (14 miles – 12.30 pm) and Chorkhung (20 miles – 2.30 pm), just above Namche Bazaar. The last 6 miles, out to Thamo and back, are on an exhausting undulating trail. It is essential to finish by nightfall at 6.00 pm.

There is likely to be snow and ice at the start of the course. The terrain is very varied: boulders, grass, sandy scree, stone staircases, trails through forest and exposed paths which contour the mountain sides. The trails will seem quite good to those used to mountain or fell running but there are additional hazards by way of narrow suspension bridges and yak trains. The race course is not marked and it is the responsibility of each runner to learn the route on the trek up.

There are aid posts approximately every 3 miles each staffed by a marshal who can provide refreshments. Doctors are also available at some aid posts to provide medical cover.

The race should not be confused with the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon held in May, or the Mount Everest Challenge Marathon held in November in Darjeeling in connection with the Himalayan 100 mile stage race.