Day 4 #ETR2014
Kharikola to Phakding is one of my favourite days on the ETR trails. It’s very much a transition stage. The first 3-days have been quiet with the occasional glimpse of life but now we are on the M6 motorway of Nepal. Porters are the HGV’s transporting all manner of goods from food and drink to 8’x4’ sheets of wood… yes, 8’x4’ sheets of wood. In and amongst this frenetic relay of goods the mule and yak trains add to the confusion and like all motorways there is a plethora of tourists moving up and down the trails.
It’s a magic section of trail and one that I love. The diversity is incredible. Children at play, parents at work and the faces… don’t get me started on the faces! Life is people.
The 2013 edition of the ETR presented wonderful vistas and blue skies, however, the Himalayas decided to hide behind low cloud today. An occasional glimpse of a peak way off into the distance offered a glimpse of what might. But the clouds were selfish.
Leaving the sleepy monastery of Kharikola, 31km’s awaited the runners and after a short and twisting technical descent, a vertical kilometre of elevation to CP1 (Kari La) provided a great way to start the day and brush off the cobwebs.
The descent to Surke (Cp2) is a 17km ankle twisting and knee swelling series of switchbacks of technical trail. But there is no rest, more climbing, more technical trails and finally the wire bridge at Monjo offers the ETR finish line. In total, 2996m of positive gain are balanced by 2335m of vertical descent.
It may come as no surprise that Samir Temsang and Phudorje Lama Sherpa dictated the pace from the start and arrived at Cp1 in 1-hour. It was a ridiculous time considering the technicality and elevation of the course. Zigor Iturrieta was holding his ground but the writing was already on the wall. The Nepalese runners really do make running look easy here… arguably Zigor is the first human in the race! After Phudorje’s fall yesterday, Samir consolidated his overall lead and the two ran together to the line finishing just 3-seconds apart.
Anna Comet is one seriously impressive lady! She has a look of focus and determination that is softened by a smile whenever she sees you. But don’t be fooled, it’s not weakness… it’s actually a smile of confidence. Hands-on-knees Anna powers the climbs and foot hops the descents. Today she once again excelled and took her 4th consecutive stage win and extended her lead beyond all reach. Kerry Sutton and Yangdi Lama Sherpa repeated the 2nd and 3rd places from the previous 3-stages; however, Kerry today twisted her ankle badly. Fingers crossed it will not impact on her performance over the coming two final days.
Tomorrow, stage-5 is a short day of just 16km’s and 2124m of vertical gain. It culminates at the monastery at Tyangboche with Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam providing arguably the most impressive finish line of any race!
- Samir Temsang 3:53:35
- Phudorje Lama Sherpa 2:53:38
- Zigor Iturrieta 4:09:41
- Anna Comet 4:28:18
- Kerry Sutton 5:06:09
- Yangdi Lama Sherpa 5:35:47