John Percy – Last Man Standing

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John Percy – Last Man Standing

Endurance running brings many challenges and multi-day adventures bring many variables. The process of running day-after-day can push even the most trained and experienced runner to his or her limits. However, for many runners, a race challenge often combines many things – adventure, the unknown, an opportunity to experience a new place, make new friends and yes, a holiday!

Take any race, any race in the world and you will have someone who comes first and someone who comes last. It’s such an awful phrase; last! It sounds insulting, as though that person has failed… but let’s look at the positives. A journey has a start and an end, how one completes that journey is often down to personal motivations, passions and in the scenario of covering distance in a fast time; genetics!

In my most recent adventure, the Everest Trail Race in Nepal, I enjoyed the trails every day with the runners as they climbed, descended and endured the tough and technical trails that this region of the Himalayas has to offer.

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Pasang Llama (Nepal) won the race ahead of Miguel Capo Soler (Spain) and Casey Morgan (UK) with a dominant performance, he completed the six-day journey from Jiri to Tyangboche and back to Lukla in 22-hours, 04-minutes and 22-seconds. His shortest day was 2-hours 50-minutes and the longest day 4-hours 50-minutes.

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Now contrast this to John Percy from the UK. His shortest day was 7-hours 32-minutes and his longest day 14-hours 59-minutes. John, like it or not, became a hero of the Everest Trail Race in 2016. He inspired everyone with his relentless enthusiasm, grit and tenacity to push on, no matter how tough it got or how bad he felt.

Regardless of the time, the distance is the same. A mile is a mile, and every mile matters!”

This quote is relevant in every race, day-in, day-out, all over the world. We often focus and concentrate on the front of the race but often it’s the back of the race where a true story and the real drama happens. I caught up with John Percy to ask about his Nepalese experience.
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“I’ve done this. I’ve done that. I’ve achieved something that so many haven’t, I may not be the fastest, but I never will be the fastest. I’m not built to the be the fastest, and I’m certainly no Casey Morgan that’s for certain. I’m probably three times the size of him. But what I would say is that I’ve got a dogged spirit and a strong will. I say to myself, ‘Never, ever give up!’ and I don’t give up. Ever.”

Ian: John, ETR, what an experience, huh?

John: The most amazing experience I’ve ever encountered.

Ian: Well, I was just thinking about how I was going to talk to you about your race, and I have decided that I’m going call you the strongest man in the race because you were holding everybody else up above you.

John: Yes. I was certainly holding the wooden spoon at the back but it wasn’t through lack of spirit. Yes, I was the last person nearly every day but it certainly didn’t deter me from finishing.

Ian: Yes. One of the things that amazes me, and one of the things I love about a multi-stage race is the contrast. You have Pasang Llama finishing in three hours. You have you, finishing in 15 hours, and that’s just one day. I’ve often thought, the guys and girls at the front they have real natural gift. There’s a reason why they do what they do – they are good at it! Then, once you start to drift further and further, further back in the field, I always think to myself, “What is it? What is it that makes somebody put themselves on the line? Maybe they put themselves through hell to tick a box, to achieve something?” Do you feel that’s where you’re at, and there’s no disrespect in me saying that?

Casey Morgan who placed 3rd said he had the utmost respect for people like you John, who go out and struggle, and fight every day for a finish.

What is it that motivates you?

John: [sighs] Well, I’m a great believer that yet you only got one life, and you’ve got to live it the best you can, and when I do pop my clogs in the end of my life, at least I can go in and say, “I’ve done this. I’ve done that. I’ve achieved something that so many haven’t, I may not be the fastest, but I never will be the fastest. I’m not built to the be the fastest, and I’m certainly not Casey Morgan that’s for certain. I’m probably three times the size of him. But what I would say is that I’ve got a dogged spirit and a strong will. I say to myself, ‘Never, ever give up!’ and I don’t give up. Ever.”

Ian: That was completely on show here every day at the race. Coming into the race, you have commented on Facebook that you’re a little bit nervous and a little bit worried about the race. What worried you before coming out here?

John: I was a little bit worried about pushing my body to the limited at altitude. I’ve been at altitude a few times over the last few years at varying degrees of success and failure. I was a little bit worried about how my body would cope. Obviously, it is a tough race and there is a lot of climbing, a lot of technical descending. I can power through that. I don’t mind that. I didn’t particularly like the technical sections, not really tough on the legs, just tough on my feet and the whole body really.

Ian: Casey said that the descent on day three, which was your longest day, you were out there for 15-hours to get to the finish line. He said, “that’s one of the most technical and persistent descents that he’s ever been on.” What was your thought process on that descent because at that point, you’ve been out there a long time? You’re looking at your watch and your thinking, ” Am I going to get timed out?” There’s all sorts of processes going on within your own mind. What is that experience like for you?

John: Time wise, yes, you’ve always got that worry of being timed out and things like that. Really, as an individual, I just put it in the back of my mind. I’m the type of person who could basically get up first thing in the morning, and march for the next 50-hours and it wouldn’t make a big difference to me. Endurance-wise like that, it doesn’t affect me. But those downhill sections did take a toll on my human spirit. You get to a lot of dark places in these type of events but that day I would say was my darkest hour…

Ian: Of course, I understand that! Once you get to the bottom of the descents, you then had to climb all the way up to the monastery at Kharikhola, it’s already dark and that is tough. At the Everest Trail Race, they try and avoid people being out on the course in the dark because it can be a dangerous place, and the darkness brings its own darkness. It makes it difficult because the trails are technical, and twisty, and rocky, and gnarly. How did you find that climb up to Kharikhola when you had already been out on the course for 12+ hours.

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John: Yes. I think the only good part about that, on the way up was that I knew the end was in sight which was a good feeling. I knew it wasn’t far away. It was a case of just power through. You know, just get through it. Finish it. We’re nearly there now. The end’s in sight. I could see the lights. I could hear people’s voices. It did lift my spirits, the last climb. When you think about it that last climb could destroy the human spirit but for me, it actually raised my spirit a little bit, you know?

Ian: Yes. You weren’t taken out of the race (missing the cut-off), which I think was a really, really good decision. I think always, the rules are in place to give some order and some control in a race. I think, rules are there to be broken sometimes, and effectively what you were given in the race was a second life but in that second life, you seem to have been revived a little bit, I don’t know whether it’s your body adapting to the altitude, maybe you were just getting into a rhythm, but after that, it seemed as though you got into a time zone and was able to then function within the time zones of the race.

What happened? Do you think that maybe that running over the terrain just became that little bit easier which meant you could cover ground quicker?

John: Again, you know, I can only thank the whole team for letting me continue in the race after that punishing hard day where I was out of the time limits. Time limits are there for a good reason. I’ve got to say on that long day, it was the technical descents in the dark which were very, very scary. In addition, I did take quite a big fall on day-2 which did impact on me for day 3. But after that day, I don’t know… something inside says, “Right. You’ve been at your lowest point now. Everything now has got to be a bonus. Just give it everything you can!”

I was quite lucky every day that my body seemed to adapt a little bit better, but I think I just passed that point of being at my lowest ebb, and then I just started to feel a lot better in myself and that lifted my spirits.

Ian: As you get past Kharikhola, you start to get into the more populated trails of Nepal, because you’re on the main schlep into base camp and the scenery changes, the whole atmosphere of the race changes. What has the Nepalese experience been like for you?

John: The Nepalese experience has been awe inspiring. It really makes you wake up and take a long look at yourself, you ask questions about me, as an individual, living in a westernized society, and everything that we’ve got as individuals, as opposed to how the Nepalese people live. I feel now, as if I’m a very lucky individual. You know, how I live my life compared to the very happy folk of Nepal. I mean, they’re just such lovely people. A smile. A handshake, no animosity, everybody was incredible. They see you as an individual.

Ian: You know what’s really interesting, I have spoken to many about Nepal and the Everest Trail Race, and each person has said that the people, not the mountains are the most important thing.

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John: No, you’re right. It’s the people that make this race so special, and everybody that is involved with the race passing through the whole Nepalese countryside, and through the population and everything. It’s certainly for me, been the most enjoyable thing I have ever done. I’ve done a lot in my life, and seen a lot in my life, but this is probably going to be one of the highlights of my life.

ETR: When you get to Tyangboche on day five, you get that finish line, and for me it’s one of the best finish lines in the world. What’s it like seeing Ama Dablam, Everest, Lothse, Nuptse?

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John: You can’t believe you’re there. I’ve been in mountains all my life. I’ve climbed all over the UK and quite a bit of the Alps. I’ve always wanted to see Everest. I’ve seen it so many times, as you can imagine in movies, looked at it in books etc.… To actually stand in front of it, at the most famous monastery in the world, no doubt about it, it’s just truly awe inspiring.

ETR: Final day, basically, a nice little parade lap home. You weren’t last. [laughs]

John: No, I wasn’t!

ETR: You saved a big effort for the last day?

John: Yes. I really pushed myself and I thought to myself, I had a little cheeky glint in my eye. When I got to the three-and-a-half km to go, I thought, “Sorry, Eusebio. Every man for himself now and I went for it.”

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Ian: Race done, experience completed. Everybody has a new and personal experience, they are all so different, but your experience is maybe more rewarding? But I think what’s also quite important is your experience has affected everybody else’s experience because they’ve been able to see how you struggled, battled and succeeded. I think it makes people look at themselves and think, “Well, next time I race I’m not going to pull out when the going gets tough,” they will say to themselves, “John stuck at it at ETR and managed to survive and get through.”

You’ve been to some dark places in this race!

What’s the outcome now, you’re sitting here in the sun next to a pool? It can feel like a distant memory, when a runner finishes a tough race, they often say, “I’m never doing that again.” Then within 12-hours that say, “It wasn’t that bad, was it?”

Was it not that bad?

John: Yes, it was bad. That will not change in my head. Yes, it was hard, yes it was tough. Pain will go away. Leg pain, arm pain, whatever I have got, pain will go away. But the memories will never go away of this race. I will never forget it and I’ll always say, “Never ever, say never.”

Ian: Final question for you. There’ll be people listening to this thinking, “You know what? ETR sounds like a brutal race, I want to go next year or the year after. What advice would you give, Casey for example said that the most important things coming into this race, is not necessarily being a runner but being a great hiker and a great walker. Of course, Casey ran quite a great deal too. What advice would you give to people?

John: A mixture of both. I did a lot of hill work before I came to this race. You need a mixture of both endurance, speed and human endeavor. You need to be on your A-game to complete this race.

Ian: Where do you go from here? What’s next? Is there another race or is there another experience? Are you now tempted by Everest having gotten so close to it?

John: No. I’ve enjoyed seeing Everest but I’m not an individual who would dare to climb Everest. It’s never been my goal. I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, K2 and quite a few of the big peaks in North Africa, Africa and Europe. But next from here? I have got something in my head that I really wanted to do. Whether I do it or not remains to be seen. There’s something there that I still want to do. It’s just like I said before, when I do leave this mortal coil, I want to say, “Well, I did this, this and this and this”

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John with Eusebio – they became great friends on the trails

READ AND VIEW IMAGES FROM THE 2016 EVERST TRAIL RACE HERE

Episode 124 – Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016

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Episode 124 of Talk Ultra is all about the Everest Trail Race with a selection of audio from 5 participants – Andreja Sterle Podobonik, Casey Morgan, Jennifer Hill, Tom Arnold and John Percy. We bring you news from the ultra world and Niandi Carmont co-hosts

We are in La Palma and bring you the audio from our apartment right on the Transvulcania route. So, apologies if you can hear the sea in the background and if we sound like we are recording in public toilet….

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK many thanks for all the great comments and support. It’s been great to get so many messages on social media. For those interested, we are planning a RUNNING BEYOND event in the UK in London. The venue is tbc but the dates will be Friday March 3rd to Sunday March 5th. We will have Running Beyond Book on sale and of course it will be possible to get it signed. We will have an exhibition of images from the book printed large in a gallery but this will also be a three day event on all things ultra, trail or mountain running. We will have guest speakers, films, a photography workshop and this will all be in conjunction with Like The Wind Magazine and Run Ultra. Watch this space!

00:21:31NEWS

100k Worlds in Spain

  1. Hideaki Yamauchi 6:18
  2. Bongmusa Mthembu 6:24
  3. Patrick Reagan 6:35
  1. Kirstin Bull 7:34
  2. Nikola Sustic 7:36
  3. Jo Zakrezewski 7:41

JFK50

  1. Jim Walmsley 5:21:29 smashed Max Kings by 13 min! For perspective – Walmsley’s year now included nine wins in 10 starts, six course records, and two giant FKTs in the Grand Canyon.
  2. Anthony Kunkel 5:52
  3. Mike Owen 5:56
  1. Leah Frost 6:23
  2. Caroline Boller 6:32
  3. Megan DiGregorio 7:02

2017 Skyrunner World Series Announced and new Vertical World Circuit HERE

ETR 2016

Pasang Llama

Miguel Capo Soler

Casey Morgan

Andreja Sterle Podobonik

Jennifer Hill

Sarah Davies

00:36:54 INTERVIEWS FROM EVEREST TRAIL RACE

  • Andreja Sterle Podobonik
  • Casey Morgan
  • Jennifer Hill
  • Tom Arnold
  • John Percy

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Caboolture Historical Village Dusk to Dawn 100km | 100 kilometers | February 13, 2016 | website

Caboolture Historical Village Dusk to Dawn 50km | 50 kilometers | February 13, 2016 | website

Cayman Islands

Off the Beaten Track | 50 kilometers | February 21, 2016 | website

Finland

Lapland

66° North Ultra Race | 66 kilometers | February 19, 2016 | website

Roavve Polar Ultra 300 | 308 kilometers | February 19, 2016 | website

France

Yvelines

51 km | 51 kilometers | February 21, 2016 | website

51 km en relais | 51 kilometers | February 21, 2016 | website

Ireland

Kildare

Donadea 50K | 50 kilometers | February 13, 2016 | website

New Zealand

Bedrock50 | 53 kilometers | February 20, 2016 | website

Taupo 155 km Great Lake Relay | 155 kilometers | February 20, 2016 | website

Taupo 67.5 km Great Lake Relay | 67 kilometers | February 20, 2016 | website

Sri Lanka

RacingThePlanet: Sri Lanka 2016 | 250 kilometers | February 14, 2016 | website

Thailand

100 km Relay | 100 kilometers | February 20, 2016 | website

50 km Relay | 50 kilometers | February 20, 2016 | website

Thai Ultra Race | 140 kilometers | February 13, 2016 | website

USA

Arizona

Ragnar Relay Del Sol | 200 miles | February 19, 2016 | website

Southwest 125 Ultra | 125 miles | February 15, 2016 | website

Colorado

Headless Horsetooth Fat Ass 50K | 50 kilometers | February 20, 2016 | website

Virginia

Holiday Lake 50K | 50 kilometers | February 13, 2016 | website

Washington

Fishline 50K | 50 kilometers | February 21, 2016 | website

02:05:08 CLOSE

Our next show will be a christmas special and we will bring you our four favourite interviews from 2016, so, if you have a preference or a favourite, let us know on our Facebook page.

 

 

02:08:30

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Stitcher You can listen on iOS HEREAndroid HERE or via a web player HERE

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

inov-8 AT/C MERINO LSZ Base Layer/ Mid Layer Top

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My recent trip to Nepal for the 2016 Everest Trail Race provided an opportunity for me to try out some new kit items. I do plan to write a full article on the kit I used and provide an overview for those who plan to either run a similar multi-day race or maybe go trekking.

One thing that is key for any multi-day journey, trekking or racing is weight and functionality. You really do have to be brutal with your choices. Luxuries, in general, are a no, no as they just add weight.

Nepal in November provides some real contrasts which can really test kit choices. Days are sunny, warm (at times hot) and shorts and a t-shirt work great. However, as soon as the sun disappears, the temperatures drop dramatically. Depending on what altitude you are at and how exposed you are, those temperatures will continue to drop and exposed locations will drop well below -10.

I am all for layering my clothing and to provide some perspective, here is my kit list for the duration of the Everest Trail Race.

nepal-kit

You will see from the above, I was keeping things light and functional. 3.2kg of apparel for 7-days and that included my sleeping bag. In addition to the above apparel and sleeping bag I had an Aarn pack, Aarn front photo pockets, 2 x Canon 5D cameras and 3 lenses: 16-35, 24-70 and 70-200. The camera equipment weighs a great deal. More on that in my next post when I summarise all the above kit.

One piece of kit was a stand out though. The inov-8 AT/C MERINO LSZ top.

Merino wool for me is essential as a base layer when working in cold climates. I make sure I have long leggings, socks, gloves and top all made from Merino.

The advantages?

  • Warmth
  • Less odour
  • Quick drying
  • Warmth when wet

So, when I first looked at the inov-8 product I was really impressed as it offered some key features that I had not seen on other Merino products:

  1. Hood
  2. Zip
  3. Thumb loops
  4. Hand mitts

The downside being that as a base layer top, it was a little heavier than the competition. However, the competition didn’t have the ‘extras’ that made the inov-8 attractive. To cut a long story short, I decided to go with the additional weight and put the product through its paces in Nepal.

If I wanted to be truly lightweight and despite the odourless qualities of Merino, potentially a little smelly, I could have gone with just one base layer. I didn’t! I took two tops. I had a simple reasoning and logic for this. I would wear one during the day and the other at night.

Unlike other products that are available, the inov-8 is not a form fitting product. Thank goodness! I hate feeling squeezed into my clothing. The AT/C MERINO LSZ is loose and not baggy and provides a snug and reassuringly comfortable warmth. The real selling points of this product are:

Hood – The hood adds great warmth, fits snuggly and if you zip up the 1/2 zip to the top you are left with a really warm base layer that works exceptionally well in the early morning before the sun rises. At the end of the day after the sun disappears and at night when inside a sleeping bag and you want additional warmth and the options to stop drafts going down your neck.

Hand Mitts – The cuff of the sleeve has a thumb hole as seen on many base layer products and what this provides is almost a half glove with no fingers. However, inov-8 have added an extra layer of fabric and by folding this back and over the fingers, it provides a simple hand mitt. Again this worked exceptionally well for early morning or late evening chills or when sleeping to keep extremities warm.

At the end of the day, the inov-8 AT/C MERINO LSZ is a base layer, there isn’t a great deal to write. However, this product impressed so much I was keen to give the product a nod. The addition of Superfine 18.5 micron Australian Merino wool delivers fantastic next-to-skin feel and fit, the hood and 1/2 zip is a great feature and the hand mitts is the type of simple innovation that I love.

This product is a winner.

As we are entering into the cold, dark, inclement months, an inov-8 AT/C MERINO LSZ would make a great addition to any kit list.

Product information at inov-8 HERE

Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Stage 6 Results and Summary

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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.

Namaste.

The 2016 Everest Trail Race Overall Results (confirmed times to follow)

  1. Pasang Lama
  2. Miguel Capo Soler
  3. Casey Morgan
  1. Andrej Sterle Podobonik
  2. Jennifer Hill
  3. Sarah Davies

Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Stage 5 Results and Summary

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Everest Trail Race – Race Day 5 Phakding to Tyangboche

Last night we stayed in a lodge and it was another very cold night. We were in a valley, so, once the sun disappeared, temperatures plummeted. Everyone was cold, despite being inside.

Stage 5 of the race is the one we have all been waiting for. The arrival at Tyangboche provides one of the greatest vistas available with Everest taking center stage.

The first 5km rolled along pretty easy with Pasang and Alejandra leading the way. On entering the Sagramantha National Park route markings would no longer exist and participants would need to use the route book. In principal this sounded a little more complicated than it actually was. The route was very straightforward and at any points where an error could be made, an ETR staff member would be present to ensure the correct path was taken.

After crossing the famous Hillary Bridge the main ascent to Namche Bazaar would start. At CP1 Pasang was once again forging an unassailable lead, not only on the stage but the overall classification. He is well ahead of the rest of the racers. Miguel Capo Soler and Casey Morgan followed the Nepalese runner but he was too strong finishing well ahead of the Compressport duo. On the final tough ascent to the finish, Miguel pulled away from Casey opening a short time gap.

Alejandra once again showed her dominance not only in the ladie’s field but the overall classification. She took another stage win and overall victory is not in doubt. Jennifer Hill ran another consistent day but could not match the ladies’ race leaders pace and once again Sarah Davies finished 3rd lady and almost certainly secured the final podium place.

Irrespective of the efforts of all the runners and ETR staff, the main hero of the day is Nepal. The sky remained clear and pure blue to show the beauty of the region and the stunning Himalayas. Tyangboche is an incredible place with a series of small lodges and shops serving essentials. It has a monastery and of course it’s a hub for those trekking or moving higher up into the mountain ranges or going to base camp.

This evening we are all treated to a night in a lodge! Of course we have no heating, but at 4000m we all expect -10 temperatures. However, I do think a few ‘beverages’ may be consumed with just one day remaining and the finish at Lukla.

Stage results: *Times to follow

  1. Pasang Lama 3:13:27
  2. Miguel Capo Soler 3:25:04
  3. Casey Morgan 3:27:27
  1. Andreja Sterle Podobnik 4:16:15
  2. Jennifer Hill 4:40:06
  3. Sarah Davies 5:44:37

General Classification: *Ranking to follow

  1. Pasang Lama 18:43:21
  2. Miguel Capo Soler 19:32:18
  3. Casey Morgan 19:43:16
  1. Andrej Sterle Podobonik 26:04:14
  2. Jennifer Hill 27:12:58
  3. Sarah Davies 34:07:11

Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Stage 4 Results and Summary

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Everest Trail Race – Race Day 4 Kharikhola – Phakding

It was a wonderful calm night and relatively warm, certainly in contrast to the previous night. I was up and on the trail by 0600 to hike my way in to CP1 at Kari La (2893m). It was a tough 8km, basically climbing 1000m in 5km.

Kharikhola to Phakding is a very busy trail with Sherpa’s and Porters making journeys up and down the trail, there are continual mule trains ferrying all sorts of supplies to shops, lodges and other facilities. This is the only way to move things around. This the motorway of this region!

I arrived at CP1 approximately 30 minutes before Pasang Lama arrived, once again he was leading the way. He covered the initial 8km in a ridiculous 60-minutes. Today, Casey Morgan was feeling jaded with a head cold, he pursued the Nepalese runner with Miguel Capo Soler but the writing was already on the wall. Andrej Sterle Podobnik controlled the ladies field from the front once again putting race leader Jennifer Hill under pressure. Jennifer looked relaxed as she followed but Andreja was pulling away.

It seems highly unlikely that Pasang Lama will not be the 2016 Everest Trail Race winner but the ladies’ race has an exciting battle between Andreja and Jennifer.

From Kari La, the trail drops down through twisting and winding trail; sometimes technical and occasionally muddy. However, if you are confident on your feet and feeling good, you can certainly keep a great pace going.

Pasang arrived at CP2, Surke in 2-hours with 17km covered. His nearest rivals were 17-minutes later.

The further down the trail we went, the busier it became. We started to see more and more groups of trekkers with Sherpa’s and porters and of course the continual ferrying of all sorts of items escalated as the demand for supplies increased.

From CP3 at Cheplung, passing Nurning the towns became a little more organized, formal and touristy. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but our early days on the trail had been remote, almost isolated. We were now entering in to the hub of Nepal’s trekking arena and our proximity to Lukla was obvious. Lukla is a main hub for the doorway to Everest.

Weaving in and out of the trails, passing on the right of mules, squeezing past trekkers on the left and jumping around porters, the finish of stage 4 was soon in sight.

Dropping down the trail and crossing the Kamsyawa Khola (river) the day was done. An exhilarating and eye opening day on the trails of Nepal.

Pasang Lama once again took victory with Casey Morgan and Miguel Capo Soler placing 2nd and 3rd. For the ladies, it was Andreja Sterle Podobonik ahead of Jennifer Hill and Sarah Davies. Importantly, Andreja now has the lead in the ladie’s race.

Stage results:

  1. Pasang Lama 3:45:43
  2. Miguel Capo Soler 4:03:33
  3. Casey Morgan 4:03:34
  1. Andreja Sterle Podobnik 5:10:50
  2. Jennifer Hill 5:55:29
  3. Sarah Davies 6:54:02

 

General Classification: 

  1. Pasang Lama 15:29:55
  2. Miguel Capo Soler 16:07:16
  3. Casey Morgan 16:15:50 
  1. Andrej Sterle Podobonik 21:48:00
  2. Jennifer Hill 22:32:54
  3. Sarah Davies 28:22:35

Stage 5 Preview: Phakding to Llegada 20km

Leaving Phkakding at 2600m runners will only gain 200m in the first 8km. The climbing of the day begins but the terrain and severity is much more relaxed than the previous days. CP1 Namche Bazar is at 10km  (3400m).  Phunki Tenga at 17.5km (3300m) now will offer the runners the most spectacular views of Everest and the other 8000m peaks. This sight will spur them on for the kick in the tail, the 2km climb from 3300m to 3700m and the finish at Tyangboche.

 

Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Stage 3 Results and Summary

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Everest Trail Race – Stage 3 Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikola

The mist and wind persisted into the night and it was seriously cold! Jase Bhanjyang sitting just below 4000m is renowned for being a cold place and last night it lived up to expectations. Needless to say, kit was tested and those who compromised on weight were left with a really cold and uncomfortable night. Pretty much everyone slept in base layers and down jackets with hoods up and gloves on.

Once again, it would be a split start, 0700 and 0800. Today’s stage had considerably less climbing than stage two, however, it had lots of descending, it may not hurt the lungs as much but it would certainly hurt the legs. Many thought it would be an easier day…

A short climb out of camp the runners would then descend to Jumbesi (CP1) at 2696m. This initial trail would see them running through a dense forest section.

No hiking on the trail for me today, I was helicoptered out to Kharikhola – a beautiful Monastery on top of a mountain (Pema Namding).

Kharikhola is a main trekking route and in addition, it is a main route for supplies. It amazes me to watch children carry baskets literally as big as they are and for sure, probably twice the weight. Donkeys go up and down the trail all day carrying all sorts of supplies, from bottles of gas, water, corn, maize, beer, Coke, cigarettes and so on. You suddenly realize how life moves around in these mountains.

Sherpa’s arrive carrying packs that look as though it will be break their packs, behind them, a string of tourists with small packs and poles.

Back on the trail, not surprisingly, Pasang Sherpa was once again blazing a trail along this tough ETR route, he was looking to make amends for a poor day yesterday. He was pursued by the top-4 runners, Joan Soler, Casey Morgan and Miguel Capo Soler. In the ladies, Andreja Sterle Podobnik took the race to Jennifer Hill today leading by a minute at the top of the first climb.

After CP1 at Jumbesi, the runners crossed the Junbesi Khola river and climbed up to Phurteng at just over 3000m. Descending to CP2 at Lharpa another climb awaited.

The race now had a familiar format; Pasang would lead the men by a considerable margin, followed by Casey and Miguel, Joan was off the pace, today he didn’t feel quite as good!

For the ladies, Andreja like Pasang would lead the lead the way but Jennifer marked the gap.

Today’s finish line at Kharikhola is a special one, it’s one of the best I have witnessed, however, the runners have to work for that finish. Leaving Taksindu La, the final long descent of the day, 3100m to 1500m in 10km. However, at the bottom the sting in the tail, a 4km climb from Jubhing to the Monastery finish.

Pasang and Andreja took out the respective stage wins. Importantly, Pasang dictated a very fast pace today regaining all the time lost yesterday and now providing himself a convincing lead over Miguel and Casey. Although Andreja tried today, Jennifer ran a consistent pace and the time she lost was relatively insignificant to the overall classification.

Stage results:

  1. Pasang Lama
  2. Casey Morgan
  3. Miguel Capo Soler
  1. Andrej Sterle Podobnik
  2. Jennifer Hill
  3. Sarah Davies

 

General Classification:

  1. Pasang Lama
  2. Miguel Capo Soler
  3. Casey Morgan
  1. Jennifer Hill
  2. Andrej Sterle Podobonik
  3. Sarah Davies

Stage 4 preview: Kharikhola to Llegada 27.5km

Departing the monastery, a small descent awaits the runners of just 4km before a long tough climb to Kari La (CP1) at 2900m. From here the course goes up and down all around 2700/2800m for appx 10km before a very steep descent to CP2 at Surke (2200m). A continual climb to CP3 at Cheplung continues to the arrival at Phakding/ Llegaga.

 

Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Kathmandu

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Today was a relaxing day in Kathmandu soaking up the sights, sounds, colour but most importantly, for me, the people!

Nepal and the Nepalese people fascinate me.

The day started with a morning in Patan – Patan, an ancient fortified town, was founded in 745 AD by Vanraj Chavda, the most prominent king of the Chavda Kingdom. He named the city Anhilpur Patan or “Anhilwad Patan” after his close friend and Prime Minister Anhil shepherd. (wikipedia).

And the midday around the Boudhanath Stupa (or Bodnath Stupa) which is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is the center of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. The stupa is located in the town of Boudha, on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. (sacred-destinations).

The close of the day allowed runners to obtain race numbers, have equipment checked and as I write this, the race briefing is about to start.

Tomorrow we leave Kathmandu for Jiri, a journey of 7-8 hours and our first overnight camp. Racing will start on Thursday at 0900.

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Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Arrival Kathmandu

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The 2016 Everest Trail Race has begun… as with all races, it starts with a journey and as I am sure you all know, some are more bearable than others. This was a good one! We departed Heathrow on Nov 6th in the early evening, a 4-hour flight to Istanbul was followed with a short wait time before a red-eye flight through the night to arrive in Kathmandu for midday the following day.

The Nepal/ Kathmandu impact hits immediately – noise, colour, cars, motorbikes, buses, dust and people are everywhere!

A short journey to our hotel is followed by a simple pre-registration of athletes; the official race briefing will take place tomorrow. Everyones tired but a new day has kicked in leaving everyone unsure if they should be eating lunch or breakfast? Eyes are watery and red, hair is a little dishevelled and wild, but the anticipation of the 2016 ETR has everyone wired and excited.

It’s time to unpack, prepare and organise equipment for the race that starts in three days time but first a little exploring – the bustling streets of Tamil await and provide a quick and rapid immersion into the wonders of Nepal and it’s people.

Tomorrow, Monday, is a day of organised exploring to the Monkey Temple and Durba Square; a hub of history for this region of Nepal.

Sleep deprived, it’s a short day for everyone, bed calls and tomorrow the 2016 Everest Trail Race experience really begins for all concerned.

Racing starts on Thursday10th November

Day 1 – Departing Jiri at 0900 runners will cover two major peaks, Mali at just over 2400m and Deurali Pass (2700m).

Day 2 – Leaving Bhandar, non-stop climbing follows a short 4km descent; firstly, to Gompa (Golla) at 3010m, a small downhill section follows of 2km and then a climb to Pikey Peak at 4068m. It’s a tough-tough day and the sting in the tail comes at the very end with a very short and steep ascent to Jase Bhajyang.

Day 3 – Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikhola

Stage 3 is all about running downhill, however, the finish is brutal ascent to Kharikhola 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.

Day 4 – Kharikhola to Llegada

Departing the monastery, a small descent awaits the runners of just 4km before a long tough climb to Kari La (CP1) at 2900m. From here the course goes up and down all around 2700/2800m for approximately 10km before a very steep descent to CP2 at Surke (2200m). A continual climb to CP3 at Cheplung continues to the arrival at Phakding/ Llegaga. 

Day 5 – Phakding to Llegada

Leaving Phakding at 2600m runners will only gain 200m in the first 8km. CP1 Namche Bazar is at 10km  (3400m).  Phunki Tenga at 17.5km (3300m) now will offer the runners the most spectacular views of Everest and the other 8000m peaks. This sight will spur them on for the kick in the tail; the 2km climb from 3300m to 3700m and the finish at Tengboche.

Day 6 – Thyangboche to Lukla

The final stage of the ETR re-traces much of the same ground of Day-5 but (obviously) in the opposite direction. The main difference comes after Phakding when the trail splits and participants go left climbing to the finish in Lukla.