Reports from Nepal on the 2017 race
Sunday 5 November
Most people are frantically packing, checking the kit list to make sure that nothing has been forgotten and trying to reduce their luggage weight!
Daithi from Dublin is already in Nepal, trekking/running in Helambu, while Travis and Kelly leave Australia tomorrow. Most of us leave home on Wednesday 8 November and reach Kathmandu the next day. We’ll break you in gently: after an astonishing and turbulent ride from the airport you will find the Hotel Shanker a haven of peace. But you are going to be very busy until we fly to Lukla on Sunday. Don’t forget your fancy dress for the fun run on Saturday!
Sadly, Dave Buckler, our chief doctor, and his wife have had to drop out at the last minute due to family illness. But Simon and Heather Milligan (both doctors from previous races) will be able to provide their medical skills on race day. Our thoughts go to the Buckler family.
See y’all in Kathmandu! Diana and Ali
Wednesday 15 November – Namche Bazaar
We had a hectic time in Kathmandu with an excursion to Swayambhunath, the Monkey Temple, and Durbar Square, full of temples and palaces reconstructed after the devastating earthquakes in 2015, and a fancy dress fun run from Nagarkot ( Himalayan views), to Sankhu.
On Sunday we had a crack of dawn flight to Lukla and set off north , up the Dudh Khosi valley on a short trek to the first lodge at Phakding. Next day came the steep climb up to Namche Bazaar where we spent two nights.
Yesterday we climbed up to the Everest View hotel, with a truly magnificent view of Ama Dablam. Today most of the group ran or walked up the Bhote Kosi valley to Thamo and back, on the infamous Thamo loop – the last 6 miles of the race. What a beautiful trail.
The two groups have just set off for Khumjung, for their first night in tents. The weather has been fabulous, hot under blue skies. This is the start of the trek up the Gokyo valley for acclimatisation.
Diana and Ali
Sunday 19th November
Yesterday we walked up the ridge from the campsite at Machermo, 4470m, to gain more acclimatisation followed by an afternoon of yoga practice and clothes washing.
This evening is our third night at Machermo and the group are relaxing before dinner, playing cards and reading, while the doctor measures everyone’s oxygen saturation and heart rate. It’s been a great day with almost all the group walking up to Gokyo. It’s only a height gain of 300m, but at this altitude there’s a fair bit of effort involved.
The route goes past two lakes, the first with resident Braminy ducks and the second providing a glacial-blue foreground to Cho Oyu, the 8200m peak that dominates the skyline. Some of the well-acclimatised climbed the extra 600m to the summit of Gokyo Ri, at 5357m, getting spectacular views of Everest.
Tomorrow is an official rest day at altitude, before the group head back down the Dudh Koshi valley but two of the fit and fast have volunteered to nip back up to Gokyo to buy cakes from the German Bakery.
Tuesday 21 November – Namche Bazaar
This morning the Nepalise runners came to Namche Bazaar to register for the race. We have fifteen, four of which are female. For Ang Dami Sherpa, who is 49, it will be her fourth Everest Marathon.
Anatoly Bazylevsky from Russia, tipped to be one of contenders for the first three finishers, joined us last night, along with his son. Lilly, from Mexico, who is going to be one of the marshalls, came up to Namche at the same time.
Our small international group will be leaving for Kangjuma just as soon as Diana’s pony transport arrives. There we will meet up with the main group who will have walked down from Machermo today. Their descent of 1000m means they are likely to be feeling really good and will sleep well tonight.
Then tomorrow we all trek up the Khumbu Valley, along the race route, towards the start at Gorak Shep – the final 5 days of acclimatisation.
Sunday 27 November.
The day before the race and it’s another glorious blue sky day following a freezing night in Loboche.
The Nepali runners joined us last night and it’s now time for final medicals and kit check before we all move up to Gorak Shep for the final night in a lodge. There is a lot of weighing of sacks and sucking of breath, ‘Are you really carrying that much?’
Yesterday was an optional rest day, with some people soaking up the sun at camp while others receed the route up to Gorak Shep. It’s rough going with the ups and downs of the lateral morraine of the Khumbu glacier, which is now a ‘dry’ mass of rock.
Some of the group climbed an additional 400m to the summit of Kala Patthar at 5550m, for a great view of Everest, while others went up the glacier to Everest Base Camp, at 5364m.
Tomorrow we will all be back in Namche Bazaar where there will be the luxury of showers and beer and much celebrating.
28th November – The race
Life at Gorak Shep is hard. It’s cold up there at the edge of the glacier as well as being high enough to feel the effects of altitude even when the group has spent as long as we have getting acclimatised. We all left there at 06.30 yesterday and all arrived at Namche safely, including one who came half way by pony, to either crawl into bed or go and drink beer into the early hours.
At Gorak Shep a few people got sick during the night leaving them feeling very weak for the race. It affected some immediately and others like Bobby (from USA), towards the end of the race, providing the opportunity for Team Eire to come to his rescue and escort him to the finish.
This is an example of the teamwork and goodwill across the group that has been a hallmark of this marathon. Every one has mucked in and contributed to looking after each other both physically and emotionally. The other noticeable ingredient in this event is how accepting everyone has been of the physical hardships of living at altitude – there has been no whinging.
There were great performances from ‘French Frank’ and Anatoly who challenged the Nepalis in the men’s race and Fiona, who spends her life herding Reindeer in Scotland, in the women’s. Whilst this is called a marathon, the only resemblance it bears to the road variety is the accurate measuring of its length. It really is the toughest marathon in the world, in so many ways.
This morning we’ve had the Nepali prize giving in the yard behind hotel Sherpa Land. Later today there will be tip-giving and gear collection for all the smiling staff who have been feeding and portering for through-out the trip.
Race results coming soon. Ali