Everest Trail Race – Race Day 6 Tyangboche to Lukla
At 3086m, the temperatures were just a little cool outside, a night in a lodge offered just that ‘little’ extra protection but many commented that they thought it was warmer in a tent.
I was up at 0530 an on the trails by 0600 to hike 2-hours into the course to Khumjung which would offer us the spectacular back drop of Everest, Lohtse and the stunning Ama Dablam. The first runners arrived before 0900 and then I spent a day on the trails, running, hiking and walking with the race as it unfolded.
It was a cold start with temperatures well below freezing, however, moving with a pack and a couple of cameras soon elevates your internal temperature and before long I was down to a base layer, gloves and a buff for additional temperature regulation.
The race started had two starts again, 0700 and 0800. The route dropped immediately from 3800m to 3300m before climbing back up to Khumjung at just over 3800m. It’s a beautiful trail, technical in sections but the views offered are inspiring. It’s a difficult place to run… you need to watch where you put your feet but around you the vistas are just incredible.
Climbing up to Khumjung one is suddenly surprised by quite a large village with rows and rows of houses. I had to look twice to make sure I was still in Nepal. At our vantage point, we waited. On cue, Pasang Lama arrived running up trails I struggled to hike up. This guy is a machine. He waved, wished Namaste and pushed onward up the trail.
Over 30-minutes later, the usual suspects arrived, Miguel Capo Soler, Casey Morgan, Andreja Sterle Podobonik and many of the other top placed runners today were running together and having fun. It was a little like the last day of the Tour de France. They were working together and obviously content that the last day would be an enjoyable one.
Andreja was powering along, looking up the trail she focused on keeping a pace with the top men. It may have been the last day with a commanding lead but she wasn’t taking it easy.
Sarah Davies was the next top ranked lady that passed me and I suddenly started to wonder if 2nd placed lady, Jennifer Hill was having a bad day? It turns out that Jennifer had sickness through the night – the last day was going to be a tough one!
The long descent from Khumjung lasted 6km. It wasn’t an easy 6k! The trail twisted from left to right with conditions changing from dry sand, rocks, clay and large stones. Passing through Namche Bazaar was quite an experience; one would almost call this a ‘metropolis’ of the region. It has many building, an obvious presence of tourists and with this demand, shops, restaurants and bars. We had no time to stop, pushing on through the trail we were now on one of the main trekking routes to Lukla. Yaks made the journey difficult in places, they occupy the single-track with horns outstretched, needless to say, and you need to be careful.
At the front of the race, the pattern was set and overall standings would not change, Pasang Lama and Andrej Sterle Podobonik would be crowned ‘champions of the 2016 Everest Trail Race.
However, as they crossed the line in Lukla, I was several hours behind following the experiences of the other competitors. This is what is so great about the ETR, irrespective of ability or speed, Nepal, the region, the trails; the people offer something for all. It has been the most remarkable journey.
At Phakding we crossed the Dudh Koshi river and we were in the final stretch home. Weaving in and out, up and down, the sun beat down on us. Today was all about camaraderie and I was fortunate to experience those moments.
Cheplung was our final CP, just 3.5km to go uphill to the finish in Lukla. It was a beautiful moment to see the pain, the passions and emotions from six grueling days on the most incredible trails released as each and every runner passed under the ETR banner. Tears, joy and relief; it was a bond shared with each and every runner and one that each member of the ETR staff could appreciate. You see, the race is not only about the participants, it is also about the incredible organization and planning task that is undertaken by Jordi Abad and his team.
This is no ordinary race! You can’t just drive a car to a place as and when it is needed. Meticulous planning makes this race happen and I have to say, it was executed to precision and perfection.
The race is over. But the journey is not complete. Tomorrow we fly from Lukla back to Kathmandu and the prospect of a day and a half to explore inspires even more emotions and passions.
Nepal is a contrast. It is a cacophony that penetrates the eyes, skin and mind. It is possibly the most exhilarating, awe inspiring and incredible experience you could ever witness.
The ETR doesn’t come to an end for me, it’s my 3rd time in Nepal and I have the same feelings and emotions just like the first time. Nepal provides a beginning, a beginning of a love affair with Nepal, the people the trail and the Himalayas.
The 2016 Everest Trail Race Overall Results (confirmed times to follow)
- Pasang Lama
- Miguel Capo Soler
- Casey Morgan
- Andrej Sterle Podobonik
- Jennifer Hill
- Sarah Davies