Mount Everest Ultra Marathon – Ten Tips
Only two years ago I decided to hang up my football boots due to ongoing inquires, but with football being my whole life I needed to find a new challenge.
Having never ran more than 5 miles in one go, I decided to take on a massive challenge and run my first ever race, The Marathon des Sables. The MdS is the equivalent to running 6 marathons in 7 days, but through the Saharan desert, and being self sufficient the entire way, this was to be my baptism into the world of endurance sports (with only 5 months until race day). Since crossing that finishing line in Morocco in April 2012, I was hooked; going long was my new passion. One of my craziest adventures was cycling 412kms from London to Newquay in a day, before learning to surf the next day, but what takes the cake so far in extreme races I’ve competed in is The Mount Everest 65k Ultra Marathon.
“What is the Mt Everest ultra marathon, I’ve never heard of it?” You might well ask! It’s a 65k race, heading “downhill” from Gorakshep (16,942ft) to Lukla (9,383ft), and having only been run twice before, competing in this years race I would be within the second group of foreigners to ever take on this task (the inaugural was just for locals).
This is more than a just race though, it’s an experience like no other on the ultra running scene.
Competitors must trek for 8 days from Lukla to Gorakshep, dealing with the effects of high altitude, average food, and the cold before even getting to the start line. If you do make it to the official start line (trust me several people haven’t) then you will be tired, sleep deprived, fatigued, hungry, but will have observed some of the most breathtaking scenery on this planet, before turning around the following day (no rest days at the top) and beginning the race for its single day 65k brutal descent.
The Everest Ultra Experience not only gives you the opportunity to spend over a week in the glorious Himalayan Mountains, and feel the warmth of the Nepalese people and their culture, but also to run against some of the most elite ultra runners Nepal has to offer, and these guys are seriously fast! Best of all I think is, once you have finished you can say to all your running friends that you have run down Mt Everest, how crazy is that!
It’s not as simple as just cruising down smooth gradual descents though, there are several long steady climbs, with two sharp ones. Heading up towards Namchee Bazaar, at times you feel this tight switch backed climb, through the thick over growth of trees will never end.
The real killer though is just a few miles from the finishing line, it’s a constant climb for 2-3 miles all the way up to Lukla, brutal at the end of any ultra marathon, but to finish your 9 day Everest ultra experience with such a climb, well I will let you describe it when you go and do it for yourself…
Having only returned from Nepal a few months ago, I thought I would share my top 10 tips for getting from Lukla back to Lukla as the Everest Ultra experience.
Top 10 Everest Ultra Experience Tips
You may wonder why so many of these tips are not necessarily about “running”, well from experience, the running part is only part of the battle. I fell badly sick with an intestine bacteria the day before the race, combined with severe altitude sickness. Although I did make it to the start line, only 11 hours prior to the beginning of the race I had to be escorted 10km down the mountain to be at a lower altitude. So my Everest Ultra experience entailed me starting at Dughla (15,075ft) and making the 55km trek back to Lukla.
I combined walking, running, and then stumbling (from not being able to ingest any food or liquids for an entire 24 hours) to get back to Lukla in just over 10 hours. Would I do it again, well I do feel I have some unfinished business with the Everest Ultra, but maybe not next year, the wounds haven’t quite completely healed yet…
The Everest Ultra takes place in March each year, if you do decide to take on this awesome challenge, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
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