Everest Trail Race – Stage 2 Bhandar to Jase Bhanjyang
Stage-1 finished yesterday in Bhandar and due to logistics it was necessary for myself to leave camp and make my way to Golla, the midway point of stage 2. It was a 3.5 hour hike with 2000m of vertical, I arrived in the dark and was saddened to see the lodge that I had stayed in on two previous occasions was now a pile of rumble – real evidence of the earthquake od last year. A two story house gone and now the family living in make shift huts. It was devastating to see and no doubt it has devastated them but they are a resilient people, life goes on and as such they offered me a bed and food.
I departed 0530 to climb to Pikey Peak at 4068m. In principal, you look at the stage and think, it’s only 23.9km, and it won’t be too bad! Wrong. The stage has 3468m of vertical ascent and 1796m of negative descent. It’s a brute!
On the trail the freezing early morning temperatures started to rise and with it the sun. Suddenly, the first glimpse of the snow capped Himalayas and Everest in the distance. It was another tough hike to Pikey Peak and in particular, once I got passed 3600m I could feel the altitude hit! Ever watched a program on Everest and seen everybody walking really slow up the gradients? Now I know why… this stage of the ETR was a brute and without doubt it would cause some damage. Finally, we arrived at the Peak and waited for the runners.
It was a split start today, slow runners leaving at 0700 and faster runners at 0800.
Starting with a short and technical descent for a couple of km’s, runners crossed a river via a suspended bridge and then it was pretty much all ‘up’ for 16/17km. The gradients were not brutal (however, poles were essential) and terrain underfoot on the whole was very good, but the combination of these elements and altitude made the whole experience extremely harsh.
Pasang Lama and Jennifer Hill were overall ETR leaders going into stage 2 and they lived up to their billing leading their respective groups to Golla
I had expected Pasang to be in a league of his own today, after all, he is Nepalese. However, the early gaps he had opened up were given away to Miguel Capo Soler and Casey Morgan. In the final climb to Pikey Peak – it certainly looked like he pushed too hard! Miguel was the first to reach the summit and then several minutes later, Casey arrived saying, “Now that is tough, I am nearly passing out with the effort.”
Pasang was expected next but first day 4th place finisher, Joan Soler, arrived next looking strong. Pasang finally arrived but he looked broken, constantly needing to stop.
Jennifer Hill proved in great form and dominated once again for the ladies with Andreja Sterle Podobnik once again following in 2nd to the summit.
One-by-one runners made the Pikey Peak summit, some in better shape than others. Unfortunately, the stunning early morning views of the Himalayas disappeared as the day passed and in the latter stages the race was blocked out with cold wind and dense mist requiring the ETR admin team to make some changes for the latter runners to ensure their safety.
In the distance, just 4km away from Pikey Peak, base camp could be seen early in the day at Jase Bhanjyang (3549m). A technical descent was followed by one last tough climb to the finish and an opportunity to rest.
Miguel took a strong stage victory ahead of Joan Soler who passed on the descent. Casey, post-race said that the climb to Pikey Peak had taken a great deal out of him allowing his Compressport teammate to pull away.
Jennifer once again won the ladies race with Andreja placing 2nd and Sarah Davies 3rd and moving up to 3rd lady overall.
The day took its toll on many runners, with altitude sickness causing issues and of course fatigue.
Going into Stage 3, Miguel Capo Soler and Jennifer Hill have a strong lead.
- Miguel Capo Soler
- Joan Soler
- Casey Morgan
- Jennifer Hill
- Andrej Sterle Podobnik
- Sarah Davies
- Miguel Capo Soler 7:19:17
- Casey Morgan 7:27:53
- Joan Soler 7:29:22
- Jennifer Hill 10:05:35
- Andrej Sterle Podobonik 10:18:20
- Sarah Davies 12:45:26
Stage 3 preview: Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikhola 37.4km
Stage 3 is all about running downhill, however, the finish is brutal ascent to Kharikola at 2100m.
Leaving Jase Bhanjyang runners have a short ascent of 2km to 3800m and then an 8km descent to Jumbesi, CP1. A 6km climb to just over 3000m is then followed with a 4km descent to Lharpa and CP2. Another 3km climb to 3000m and then a brutal leg sapping drop from 3000m to 1500m in 10km before the final sting in the tail, a 3km climb to the finish.
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