Everest Trail Race 2018 Tengboche to Lukla #ETR2018

Day 6 Everest Trail Race #ETR2018

Leaving Tengboche the race retraces stage-5 to Phakding via a diversion at Sensa to the amazing Kumjung Valley where the runners would normally have an incredible backdrop of Everest, Lohtse and Ama Dablam. Today, the cloud came in blocking all views and keeping temperatures very cold throughout the stage.  Arriving at Namche Bazaar the ETR then re-traces stage 5 all the way to Phakding and then as the trail heads back to Kharikhola, a left turn leads to the final climb and the swinish line in Lukla.and then branch left to climb to Lukla and the finish of the 2017 ETR.

On paper, the stage is mostly downhill with 3183m of descent in comparison to 2105m of ascent over the 29.5km course. It’s a tough way to finish a race, but the rewards are worth it!

Today Jordi Gamito eased back and ran with Manuela Vilaseca, overall victory was guaranteed and he enjoyed the day. This allowed Joan Soler to finally achieve a stage victory, well deserved after racing hard all week! Sergio Arias has been a consistent 3rd all week but today he slipped to 4th opening a podium place for Pasang Sherpa.

Purnimaya Rai  despite being guaranteed overall victory, did not ease up today and she pushed ahead to secure another stage victory. Manuela Vilaseca and Becks Ferry finished 2nd and 3rd showing great consistency.

OVERALL GC

  1. Jordi Gamito
  2. Sergio Arias
  3. Joan Soler

OVERALL GC

  1. Purnimaya Rai
  2. Manuela Vilaseca
  3. Becks Ferry

Everest Trail Race 2018 Phakding to Tengboche #ETR2018

Day 5 Everest Trail Race #ETR2018

Phakding to Tengboche is one of the most beautiful trails in the world – the views are constantly incredible, the trails challenging and when one leaves Namche Bazaar, the views of AMA Dablam and Everest as one winds along a narrow path are beyond impressive. When the runner’s arrive at the monastery, the ETR place a finish arch that frames Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam perfectly, It’s quite the picture postcard and the perfect finish line for the ETR.

2124m of positive incline and 20km are the stats for stage 5. Each year, it is considered to be an ‘easy’ day but it never is…

Departing Phakding (2700m), Namche Bazar (3600m) is the first port of call then Kumjung and Cp2 and Phungi Tenga (3300m) before the tough and steep ascent to Tengboche at 3900m.

The finish line at Tengboche is arguably one of THE most amazing finishing lines of any race and this was reflected in some of the emotions shown as runners crossed the line today. It’s a mix of laughter, tears and elation – at times, all three. The view alone is enough to make one cry.

Today, Jordi Gamito and Rai Purnimaya clinched stage victories and almost certainly the title, Everest Trail Race 2018 champions. Jordi has dominated the race winning every stage and Rai appears to have become stronger as the race progressed.

Manuela Vilaseca and Becks Ferry once again placed 2nd and 3rd and will likely finish in these positions on GC at the end of tomorrow’s 6th and final stage.

For the men, Joan Soler finished 2nd running a strong 5th stage and Sergio Arias was 3rd.

Tomorrow is the final day of the ETR 2018 and the runners run back to Lukla via Namche Bazaar.

Everest Trail Race 2018 Kharikhola to Phakding #ETR2018

Day 4 Everest Trail Race #ETR2018

Kharikola to Phakding is very much a transition stage. The first 3-days have been quiet with an occasional glimpse of life. From here on in, the experience changes, the trails become busier – mules and yaks are seen regularly and they must be respected… It can be a confusion for a runner, as they force a slower pace and one must wait for the correct time to pass. In addition, Porters are seen regularly, these people are the hub of this area of Nepal, without them, supplies would not reach the lodges and shops. 

The diversity is incredible. Children play, parents work and the runners navigate a way through this section to finish at what many consider to be the gateway to Everest, Phakding.

At just under 30km’s, stage 4 of the ETR is arguably the most runnable. Leaving the monastery, a short twisting descent leads to the river and a long climb to aid station one at Kari La. It is here that the first real glimpse of the high peaks becomes real. They are no longer distant specs but now feel very real and surprisingly close.

The descent to Surke (Cp2) is a 17km rollercoaster series of switchbacks of technical trail with occasional short climbs to sap the legs and lungs.

From Surke, the trail now flattens a little, with a series of small climbs and descents that lead all the way to the finish at Phakding. 

Today was once again all about Jordi Gamito and Rai Purnimaya, the duo led from the front and were untouchable, they crossed the line in 3:34 and 4:25 respectively and now have strong leads for overall victory with two stages to go.

Joan Soler and Sergio Arias once again were 2nd and 3rd, 3:52 and 3:58 for the men and Manuela Vilaseca was 2nd in 4:49 ahead of Becks Ferry in 5:31 who picked up and injury on stage 3.

Tomorrow, stage-5 is a short day of just 20km’s and 2124m of vertical gain. It culminates at the monastery at Tyengboche with Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam providing arguably the most impressive finish line of any race!

Everest Trail Race 2018 Bhandar to Jase Bhanjyang #ETR2018

Day 2 Everest Trail Race #ETR2018

Starting in Bhandar runners have the pleasure of running downhill along some twisting and technical trail before crossing a suspension bridge that stretches over Kinja Khola River. It’s a day when the true Nepal starts to reveal itself. The occasional glimpse of the high peaks in the distance pulling the runners along the course. 

From the river, it’s relentless climbing to Golla at just over 3000m. Here an aid station provides a little respite and some flat trails. But flat does not last long, the climbing starts again firstly to Ngaur and then onward to the highest point of the ETR; Pikey Peak at 4063m. The summit at Pikey Peak on a clear day offers an amazing Himalayan vista with the first glimpse of Everest possible in the distance.

From the peak, a tough technical descent for several kilometres winds its way down to a lodge and then a tough short climb is the sting in the tail to the arrival at Jase Bhanjyang at 3600m.

Day 2 of the Everest Trail Race is the toughest of the race: fact! It’s a brutal exercise in climbing and one that takes place at attitude stretching each and every participant to the limit. In 2017, Luis Alberto Hernando dare I say, made this stage look easy! He smashed the old course record and in the process set a new time of 3:35.

It was another strong day for Jordi Gamito. He forged ahead running close to the 2017 time of Luis Alberto Hernando. “I am much stronger than last year and feel really good,” said Jordi at the finish. Today Joan Soler, running his 4th ETR pushed for 2nd ahead of Sergio Arias.

For the women, it was much closer today with Manuela Vilaseca and Rai Purnimaya running close together, the duo now only separated by minutes on general classification. Becks Ferry was a solid 3rd and 3rd on GC.

Day 3 is brutal day that is a stark opposite to day-2, at 37.4km it has more descending (4110m) than ascending (2512m). Starting in Jase Bhanjyang runners will pass through Jumbesi, Phurteng, Salung, Taksindu and then from Jubhing the race finishes with a tough climb to the stunning monastery at Kharikhola.

Everest Trail Race 2018 Jiri to Bhandar #ETR2018

Day 1 Everest Trail Race #ETR2018

The Everest Trail Race started today in the small town of Jiri.

After the previous day’s long bus ride from Kathmandu to Jiri, a night under canvas and suddenly, the 2018 ETR was rolling out for what will be the most amazing running journey the competitors will ever experience.

The night had been chilly and calm, and it was a first experience of what the next six days will be like – cold nights, warm food and the glow of the stars for company. Anticipation in the camp was high, finally the race was happening!

Runner’s prepared kit, made adjustments and from here on in, everything they would need would be carried on their backs. Clothes, sleeping bag, and snack food – the race providing warm meals and a shared tent to sleep in at night.

 A local group of musicians, providing a local soundtrack to the start of the first day and suddenly they were off…

Stage-1 for the ETR doesn’t reach the high mountains or break the tree line, but had almost 2000m of vertical gain and loss in just over 20km.

Jordi Gamito 4th in 2017, today, was in a league of his own finishing in 2:42 well ahead of the 2nd and 3rd men, Drias and Eleation, 2:51 and 3:04.

Equally, for the ladies, Manuela Vilaseca was a clear winner in 3:22 ahead of the Nepali runner, Rai and Becks Ferry from the UK, 3:31 for both.

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A very tough stage lies ahead tomorrow. From the start a long twisting and at times technical descent leads to the river and a crossing bridge, from here on in it is climbing and climbing all the way beyond 4000m to the summit of Pikey Peak.

Everest Trail Race 2018 Monkey Temple and Patan #ETR2018

Today, the calm of the Monkey Temple and historical Patan. It’s a day of noise, colour and amazing people as the ETR runners relax and soak in the beauty of this magical area.

The Monkey Temple *’Swayambhunath’  is an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’ for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. For the Buddhist Newars, in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudha.

Patan *Lalitpur Metropolitan City is the third largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu and Pokhara and it is located in the south-central part of Kathmandu Valley which is a new metropolitan city of Nepal. Lalitpur is also known as Manigal. It is best known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts. It is called city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue.

Each year I am constantly surprised and blown away by my experiences as I meet the locals in their environment, some I now have seen for several years on my trips to these magical places.

Tomorrow the runner’s leave early morning for Jiri and camp 1, the race starts the following day at 0900, Thursday 8th November.