Departing in five 16-seater mini buses, participants of the Everest Trail Race made the long, twisty and at times stressful journey from Kathmandu to Jiri for the start of the 2016 edition of the ETR.
It’s a rollercoaster journey up single-track roads, a frenetic and constant beeping of horns and a multitude of bends that would leave the most hardened rollercoaster freak with a turning tummy. The roads are wide enough for ‘just’ two vehicles – a loud blast on the horn means we are overtaking. The lack of road rules works, all the drivers are prepared for anything and as such, nothing happens.
Our lunch stop was a welcome break from the journey. While runners found a space and relaxed, I walked looking for some local colour. I found a family relaxing under a tree, the midday sun was warm and they needed a break from the hard work in the fields.
They locals embrace tourists and actually seem to enjoy the process of having a photo taken. I lifted out balloons for the children and comically all the adults wanted one too. They were sitting, laughing aloud, as each and every one of them tried to inflate them. I am convinced they had not witnessed a balloon before. I inflated one and let go…. It whirled through then air and landed as if dead.
Relaxed with the balloon distraction, one-by-one they looked into my lens.
Weathered faces show the lines from years of toil in the fields. Children have wonderful circular faces that glow and piercing eyes with a cheeky smile.
I could photograph these people all day!
Back on the bus the ride continues and finally our arrival at Jiri came. We had been on the road 8-hours and the glow of yellow tents was a warm welcome as the day began to lose its light.
Water collection, tent allocation and final preparations were underway for tomorrows race day as the runners became acquainted with their new homes for the next 6-days . A mug of hot tea warms as the departing of the sun takes the heat of the day away and the temperature slowly drops…
Day 1 commences at 0900 Thursday 10th November.
Jiri (1850m) to Bhandar (2050m) – 21.5km 3795m+
The stage has two summits, one at 2400m and the high point of the day at Deurali Pass 2700m before descending to the finish at Bhandar.