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
Andrej Sterle Podobnik
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.
Currently connection will not allow us to upload images
As the sun disappeared last night, so did the temperature but by Nepal standards it was a warm night! Just a base layer upper and bottom required inside the sleeping bag.
Morning came with a welcoming hot tea delivered to every tent by the Sherpa’s who are helping us. Organization is excellent. ETR have one advance team everyday, so as we are looked after in Jiri and new base camp, tents, eating tents, media tent and so on are being assembled in duplication. As Jordi Abad explains, “it’s the only way it can work here. The terrain is too difficult and too arduous to try and transport the same facilities day after day.”
At around 0700, villagers from Jiri came to observe the ETR roadshow and they played music to announce the start as they have done for the past several years.
On the stoke of 0900 the runners departed and the cold chilly of the early morning had disappeared with the rising of the sun. The contrast between just a few hours extremely noticeable.
Starting at 1890m the runners had a short descent and then immediately the first climb of the day to Mali at 2200m. Pasang Lama dictated the early stages followed by Casey Morgan and Miguel Capo Soler.
Jennifer Hill bided her time in the early stage but took a convincing lead and looked relaxed throughout the stage. Andreja Sterle Podobnik and Janine Canham pursued.
Deurali Pass via Khasrubas (2173m) was the toughest climb of the day and the highest point 2715m. Pasang, only had a slender lead over Casey and Miguel. A long descent to the finish and anything could happen – Pasang prevailed and took the stage win in Bhandar.
Andreja couldn’t pull back time and Jennifer and the British athlete secured a stage one victory with Janine taking 3rd.
Runners now have the opportunity to relax, eat and prepare for tomorrows stage. It’s a tough day!
Stage 2 preview:
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. Total stage distance 23.92km
Please note: I am leaving stage 1 camp today and hiking through the afternoon and early evening to hopefully arrive at a suitable vantage point to record images from stage 2. Updates will follow as soon as possible.
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.
Episode 121 – On this weeks show we speak with ELS2900 race director, Matt Lefort, about his super tough Andorran race. Niandi brings us a selection of audio, recorded in the Simpson Desrert, as Australia’s 2016 Big Red Run took place. Ian is interviewed by a Portuguese magazine and Speedgoat is back co-hosting!
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is now available in Germany, Spain, Italy and the English language versions will be posted out on November 3rd. News in that the book will now also be translated to Swedish – HERE
Marc Lauenstein defended his Otter African Trail Run title in South Africa, and set a new course record in 3:54. Robyn Owen and Stevie Kremerplaced 1 + 2 with Owen winning in 4:49 to Kremer’s 4:52. Full results.
BIG DOG BACKYARD ULTRA
A 4.16-mile loop of trail every hour. Those that finish the loop in an hour move on to the next loop and this continues until the last runner standing!Babak Rastgoufard won in 28:48 and gets a place in the Barkley Marathons.
Jon Albon becomes OCR world champion again
Centurion Running’s Autumn 100 had 2 course records from Mark Denby 14:07:39 and Susie Chesher 15:22 – Suzie was so quick she finished 2nd overall results here
6,700 meters of elevation gain over just 70k (44 miles). Thirty-nine competitors started the race, and 24 managed the improbable finish. Xavier Teixido, finished in front at 13:49. Vivien ReynaudandÒscar Perez were second and third in 15:18 and 15:38.
Sonia Regueiro became a two-time finisher and winner, this time 18:59, three hours faster than her finish last year, and Cati Lladó was second in 21:26.
00:54:56 INTERVIEW with ELS2900 RD – Matt Lefort
Pete Kostelnick if you don’t know already is aiming to break the trans-US running record, which stands at 46 days, 8 hours. Pete will likely finish in around 41 or 42 days early next week, which is utterly insane when you think about the fact that he could shave nearly five days off this record. He’s averaging 71 miles a day for the last 36 days, or in Aussie speak, that’s 114kms a day. Bowsers.Read HERE
Frank Pipp, ‘pipped’ everyone to the line at the 2016 Superior 100 in a time of 20:24:00 in what turned out to be a dominant performance. Pipp (Iron Mountain, Michigan) was a professional cyclist from 2005 to 2013 and Superior 100 was hist first 100!
In the ladies race it was three ‘outa’ three for Mallory Richard in a time of 23:51:00. Her performance was strong enough to rank 5th overall.
Joe Uhan and Timbo Jenkins placed 2nd and 3rd in 22:46:00 and 22:59:00 respectively with 2014 Superior 100 champion, Adam Schwarz-Lowe placing 4th in 23:00:00.
Tina Johnson was 2nd lady some way behind a dominant Mallory in 29:50:00 and Stephanie Hoff placed 3rd in 30:52:00.