Everest Trail Race 2018 #ETR2018

EVEREST TRAIL RACE, Nepal

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didnt do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (Sherpa Tenzing) are the stuff of legends; real comic book heroes for this modern era. They had the RIGHT STUFF! You know what I mean, stiff upper lip and the ability to take it on the chin.

Think back, 50+ years ago clad in wool and leather boots they departed Kathmandu on what is now considered one of the most iconic journeys everon the planet. A journey that would take the duo and a British expedition step-by-step, stride-by-stride from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp; a journey to climb the highest mountain in the world, Everest.

To follow in the footsteps of these pioneers, to follow in the footsteps of Hilary and Tenzing and retrace the ‘53’ journey is beyond running. Its a life affirming and life changing experience and one that the Everest Trail Race provides.

Kathmandu is just the most incredible place. Its a cacophony of noise, colour, people, cars and dust. Nothing can really prepare you for the assault on your senses. A dichotomy for the mind; I embrace the poverty around me and I make it look amazing with stunning photos. Am I a fake? Its a question I often ask. Do I prostitute the locals for my own gain? I think the answer is yes! But with each photograph captured I receive a smile, an acknowledgement that I have made them happy.

Departing Kathmandu, the road to Jiri is a twisting and gut-wrenching series of bends and miles. At 1905m altitude base camp 1 is warmed by the glow of yellow tents. As the sun lowers behind the surrounding mountains, anticipation of the journey ahead is high. Sherpas and porters prepare dinner and we spend a first night under canvas. Suddenly, the journey ahead feels very real.

The Everest Trail Race (ETR) follows the route of Hilary and Tenzing from Jiri all the way to Tengboche and then turns around and heads back to Lukla, thus facilitating an easy and manageable exit point to fly back to Kathmandu.

At 100-miles in distance an experienced ultra-runner may well think the race to be easy. Think again. The combination of relentless climbing, long descents, technical terrain and high altitude makes the ETR, mile-for-mile one of the toughest races of its type.

Broken down into manageable chunks, the race is divided into 6-stages with daily distances of approximately 22, 28, 30, 31, 20 and 22km. Altitude gain starts at 3000m and builds to 6000m. The ETR is a journey to widen one’s eyes and lungs. The visual splendor of the Himalayas is beyond words. The mountains, trails and people arguably provide one of the most stunning backdrops to any race on the planet. It’s easy to become stuck in the moment; the moment of relentless forward motion, then something stirs, you look up and as your jaw hits the floor, the visual splendor takes what little breath remains away; you are left gasping, breathless at the beauty.

Large eyes, dried dirt, runny noses and wide-open welcoming smiles; the Nepalese people really are the salt of the earth. Living in a harsh, demanding and remote environment they have adapted to the surroundings and have found a peace and humility that we can all learn from.

The trekking route, on which we travel, is the motorway of Nepal. We are the tourists, a constant stream of heavy goods vehicles surround us: porters, mules or yaks. Porters transport goods and services up and down this trail motorway daily, an important lifeline to the whole community. For £10 a day they will carry 30kgs on their backs covering high altitude and long distances with the ease of mountain goats. Experienced porters have been known to carry up to 120kg per day. It is beyond belief or comprehension. It is easy to look on from the outside and nod disapprovingly. However, this is normal. No roads exist here, the only method of transporting any goods along the trail are by porter, yak or mule.

Day 1 to Bhandar eases runners into the race with 3700m+/- of vertical gain and descentand approximately 21km in distance. The mind is released, and the legs and lungs try to follow. The sound of horns from local villagers announce the race is underway.

Bhandar to Jase Bhanjyang is a beast and arguably day 2 is considered one of the toughest of the race. It’s a brute! A brute of epic proportions; it leaves every runner questioning the journey ahead and the possibility of completion. Deviating from Hilary and Tenzing’s route, the ETR does not circumnavigate Pikey Peak at just over 4000m but goes over it! As one runner said, ‘It would certainly appear that day 1 really had been just a hors d’oeuvre and the race would miss the entrée and go straight into the main course, ready or not!’

Like any good meal, you can sometimes be a little over faced with the plate in front of you. Pikey Peak was such an indulgence. It was a climbing journey that made a vertical kilometer look like a small hill-rep. Front-runners can anticipate 2-hours plus of relentless climbing, the remainder of the field can spend 4, 5, 6 and maybe longer negotiating the steep slopes of these Himalayan foothills. From the summit; each step of pain is rewarded with a wonderful vista of the Himalayan range. In the distance Everest, Lohtse and Ama Dablam making this 4000m-peak dwarf with their 7000m plus splendor.

Kharikhola provides an incredible end to day-3. A monastery perched atop a mountain. I have often heard how runners have discussed and explained out of body experiences while running. Its not something one can pinpoint, like a mirage they come and go leaving one to question ones sanity. Kharikhola may well have provided such stimulus. Is that real?one may ask and as the final steps arrive and the ETR finish banner awaits.

Travel is the discovery of truth; an affirmation of the promise that human kind is far more beautiful than it is flawed. With each trip comes a new optimism that where there is despair and hardship, there are ideas and people just waiting to be energized, to be empowered, to make a difference for good.” – Dan Thompson, Following Whispers: Walking on the Rooftop of the World in Nepal’s Himalayas.

The trail changes and suddenly more trekkers, more porters, more mules and yaks populate the trail to Lukla and beyond. Dropping down and climbing up, the trail switches and twists and as you turn a bend at Kari La, the mountains hit you through the mist. They are no longer distant peaks but massive snow-covered monsters that make you realise how completely insignificant you are.

I see a woman carrying wood to her home. I stop her and ask for a photograph. Without hesitation she stops, looks me in the eye and patiently waits while I work my craft. Her face is leathered, full of lines and adorned with gold jewelry. She is beautiful. I cant even remotely pinpoint her age, but her face tells me a multitude of stories. Each line an experience. A story of laughter, a story of childhood and I am sure many stories of hardship.

Tengboche, the finish line of day-5 offers a panorama to bring a tear to the eye. Everest, Lohtse and Ama Dablam are close and the finish line of the ETR frames them beautifully like a classic painting. Relief, emotions and an outpouring of tears make the journey worthwhile. So tough the journey, many a runner needs to be reminded to turn around, look, and see what is behind them. The reaction always the same, a huge intake of air, a hand to the face and then a lowering of the head.

Hillary and Tenzing carried on from Tengboche. In the process they created a new world, a world where anything is possible. They climbed to the top and looked down and in doing so they paved the way for all of us to set new horizons, new goals and they have made us all ask the question, what if?

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

Edmund Hillary

Passing through Sagarmatha National Park, crossing Hilary Bridge, navigating through Namche Bazaar the final calling of Lukla confirms the end of the ETR.

Nepal and the Everest Trail Race provides more than a race experience, they provide a spiritual journey that transcends running. Running may be the vehicle but the trails of Nepal provide the highway, a highway to a new experience, to something magical and to something special.

Words taken from the book RUNNING BEYOND HERE

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Skyrunning UK inaugural Peaks SkyRace August 3rd

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The inaugural Peaks SkyRace takes place this coming weekend, August 3rd, launching the first ‘Sky’ distance race in the Skyrunner® National Series UK.

‘This course combines altitude with technical terrain and some superb views; a combination which should please the most discerning athlete,’ Craig explained, ‘a personal highlight on the course without a doubt is Ramshaw Rocks, it’s beautiful and rugged.’

Covering a distance of 29.7-miles, with a total elevation gain and loss of 2012m, the Peaks SkyRace is expected to be a real test that combines tough technical running with the addition of pace, for those who wish to push the envelope.

 Skyrunning UK Sponsored by

Based on an old Peak District Challenge called the ‘Five Trigs Round’ for which there is no fixed course, just the requirement to visit five specific trig points. The route takes in some of the best of the White Peak District as well as including the highlights of the traditional round.

©mickkenyon.com

©mickkenyon.com

‘The Peaks may not have the raw elevation of the Lakes or Snowdonia, but it has rugged technical terrain,’ said Richard Weremiuk, race director.

‘It has been a priority from day one to ensure that Skyrunning UK provides courses of varying length, difficulty, elevation and terrain on some of the most iconic trails and areas of the UK.’  said Skyrunning UK Director, Ian Corless.

Put the date in your diary, August 3rd 2014 and we look forward to seeing you all for the UK’s very first Peaks SkyRace.

Event website HERE

Skyrunning UK sponsor ROCKTAPE will be available at the event offering advice and taping. In addition, Raidlight UK will have a selection of apparel and accessories.

Great Lakeland 3 Day ™ Day 3

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The final day of the Great Lakeland 3 Day ™ was very much a victory lap as runners finished of the final leg of a 3-day triangular route, navigating via a selection of trigs to arrive back at Pooley Bridge where they had all started 3-days earlier.

The damp, misty and wet conditions of the previous day faded away with the arrival of dawn. Although the day would remain overcast for the majority, the occasional glimpse of sun would appear when the clouds decided to break.

Although a shorter day, a great deal of challenges would confront the Elite, A, B and C categories. The great success of the GL3D is the appeal and flexibility for each participant to race at a different level on different days if required. Shane Ohly said, ‘We are a small but adventurous three-day mountain marathon with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that attracts both runners and long-distance walkers.’

The race has been an incredible success and the addition of the C course has made the 2014 edition even more appealing providing a tough and challenging adventure for walkers. Rather than complex navigation, the emphasis is on long mountain journeys, spectacular scenery and enjoying an amazing mountain experience.

Brilliantly organized, great fun, tough, a real challenge… are all words and comments that could be heard as participants departed from the race base at Pooley Bridge.

I am sure many will be back in 2015.

 

Overall Results: 

Elite:

Jim Mann 16:30:28

Chris Warner 18:29:57

Robert Hicks 19:08:56

1st lady: Kerstin Rosenqvist 21:39:15

A

Simon Harper 17:38:38

Jim Trueman 18:24:30

Matt Puxon 18:54:21

1st lady: Sally Ann Spencer 19:59:13

B

Alexander Beaven 12:37:40

David Nevill 13:10:03

Nick Gallivan 13:45:42

1st lady: Christine Waller 16:34:26

C

Stephen Burt 11:49:56

Jacqueline Cooper 12:59:25

Martin & Nicola Kirkman 13:00:20

Ourea Events HERE

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Great Lakeland 3 Day™ HERE

all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Skyrunning UK announce the PEAKS SKYRACE

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Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce the first SkyRace for the Skyrunner® National Series UK calendar, the Peaks SkyRace located in the heart of the Pennines.

Covering a distance of 29.7-miles, with a total elevation gain and loss of 2012m, the Peaks SkyRace is the brainchild of experienced race director, Richard Weremiuk (Beyond Marathon), Anthony Bethell and Billy Craig. The Peaks SkyRace promises to be a great ‘opener’ for the 2014 Skyrunner® National Series calendar within the UK.

‘This course combines altitude with technical terrain and some superb views; a combination which should please the most discerning athlete,’ Craig explained, ‘A personal highlight on the course without a doubt is Ramshaw Rocks, it’s beautiful and rugged.’

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Weremiuk is no stranger to race direction and he brings all his experience from ‘Beyond Marathon’ for this new departure into the Skyrunning UK calendar. ‘Features on Talk Ultra podcast have raised the profile of Skyrunning to the point where virtually most ultra runners have heard of it and I’m sure many have aspirations to run in the mountains with the superstars of the World circuit. Skyrunning coming to the UK may well give them that opportunity.’

 Ramshaw-Rocks

Based on an old Peak District Challenge called the ‘Five Trigs Round’ for which there is no fixed course, just the requirement to visit five specific trig points. Weremiuk and the team have taken that concept and built a fixed course around it with Skyrunning in mind! The route takes in some of the best of the White Peak District as well as including the highlights of the traditional round.

‘The Peaks may not have the raw elevation of the Lakes or Snowdonia, but it has rugged technical terrain,’ said Weremiuk, ‘A highlight for me is the ascent of Daneblower Hollow. It is little known to most, but it’s a narrow trail alongside a brook and small waterfall, it really challenges your footwork.’

Bethell, who took part in the 2013 Skyrunner® World Series in 2013, gained a lot of experience from these events which has been invaluable in ensuring that Skyrunning principles are upheld for the Peaks SkyRace, ‘A long joyous descent on tricky terrain into Stake Clough after Shining Tor is one of those “Brakes off, Brain off” moments that one finds in all the classic Skyrunning races, UK Skyrunners® will love it,’ exclaimed Bethell.

‘It has been a priority from day one to ensure that Skyrunning UK provides courses of varying length, difficulty, elevation and terrain on some of the most iconic trails and areas of the UK,’ said Skyrunning UK Director, Ian Corless, ‘We have the V3K on the Welsh 3000’s and the 3×3 on an iconic Lakeland course. The Peaks SkyRace not only offers our first shorter ‘Sky’ race but it also offers an opportunity to race in the Pennines over technical ground. I’m really excited about this addition to the series.’

 SNS UK Logo-Light

 

Entries for the Peaks SkyRace are now open… put the date in your diary, August 3rd 2014 and we look forward to seeing you all for the UK’s very first SkyRace.

 

Course Description:

A short sharp shock to start with an ascent of Solomon’s Tower, then it’s back down to the outskirts of Buxton. Next you climb onto Axe Edge Moor, through Three Shires Head along the Ramshaw Rocks ridge and along to a Hen Cloud. The Roaches follow which will without doubt be the highlight for many.  Descend into Gradbach before soon after facing the Peak District Matterhorn, Shutlingsloe. Descend then begin the long climb up past The Cat and Fiddle to the summit Shining Tor. A fun descent to the Goyt valley floor is followed with a climb onto Burbage Edge and the finish in Buxton.

Bethell states as with all SkyRaces, ‘we offer a fully marked course with chip timing, awards medal for all finishers and a trophy for male and female winners. Hopefully, the ridge runs along Ramshaw Rocks and the Roaches will live up to the Skyrunning Motto of ‘Less Cloud, More Sky’….’

Race Stats 

·      Distance: 29.7m

·      Elevation gain: 2012m

·      Elevation loss: 2012m

·      Checkpoints: Two with food/ liquid.

Facilities on offer at the race

·      On site car parking

·      Food and drink at 2-checkpoints

·      Insured race with medical support

·      Shower and changing facilities at the finish

·      Electronic Chip Timing from RaceTimerPro

·      Comprehensive participant guide, sent 1 month before the event

·      Experienced marshals and staff

Race dates and times.

3rd August, 8am start.

£45.00

Website:  http://www.peakskyrace.co.uk

Entry: http://www.peakskyrace.co.uk/enter

Skyrunning UK: http://www.skyrunninguk.com

Marmot Dark Mountains 2014 Results & Images

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The 2014 Marmot Dark Mountains was a resounding success and in contrast to the 2013 event, weather conditions were extremely kind on all entrants… well, at least all those who finished before 7am.

As predicted, the weather took a very serious turn for the worse as dawn arrived with increasing winds and torrential rain. It really did turn into a tough test for the final 20 or so teams who were still out on the course. However, a warm leisure centre awaited and a breakfast fit for a king.

Marmot Dark Mountain - FINAL (BLACK)

Shane Ohly and the Ourea Events Team really did put on a great event with excellent support. Nothing was left to chance. As we all know, an event of this nature is not for the inexperienced.

A night in the Peak District with only a map, head torch and all essential equipment (as required for safety) plus your running partner for company is a test you either embrace or shy away from.

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Departing from Glossop at timed intervals starting at 1900hrs on Saturday, competitors ventured out into the dark. Maps were checked, bearings taken and then a plan was formulated. Experience really showed in the first 5-minutes of the race. Some runners required several minutes of map checking before departing whereas experienced runners like eventual elite category winners, Steve Birkinshaw and Tom Gibbs received a map and immediately ran whilst taking bearings and making navigation decisions whilst covering ground.

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Conditions during the night on the whole were extremely favourable. It was dry and temperatures, particularly if running, were mild. Of course the wind did blow on the tops and occasionally mist and fog would move in and out making navigation difficult. A couple of teams did struggle with this and were forced to retire.

The ground was very wet from months of rain and certain sections of the Peak District had been blocked off to ensure safety.

Headlights appeared all over the mountains as different teams navigated different routes to maximise time. One thing remained a constant; as I encountered runners on the course, a smile and welcome greeting was always returned.

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A midpoint checkpoint proved to be a great central hub to see runners depart and arrive. A glowing Marmot tent providing protection for the marshall team and of course providing an additional safety shelter should runners need it.

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As the event unfolded, pre race favourites in the elite race, Steve Birkinshaw/ Tom Gibb took a very early lead and never really looked  back. Bruce Duncan/ Lucy Harris pushed them close in the early stages but as the race progressed the gap opened.

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Over the other categories:

Catherine and Ross Litherland took a convincing victory in the A category in 11:30:01

Matt Harris and James Stokes won the B category by around 18-mins in 12:43:34

Louis and Bertie Goffe won the C category by over 30-mins in 6:37:02

Ben Stansfield and Pat Bartlett won the Long Score with 345 points in 9:44:47

Joe Gillyon and Catherine Evans won the Short Score with 185 points in 7:37:24

Full results available HERE

©iancorless.com.©iancorless.com.P1100638The 2014 Marmot Dark Mountains was without doubt a great success. Marmot and SilvaUK added to the whole experience and without doubt a huge thanks was passed on to all the marshals who ensured safety for all throughout the night.

You can receive additional information from the race website HERE

Photography of the race is available HERE

Marmot Dark Mountains™ – Peak District National Park in January 2014

Image ©benwinston

Image ©benwinston

The second Marmot Dark Mountains™ mountain marathon will take place in the Peak District National Park in January 2014. Race organiser, Shane Ohly from Ourea Events, elaborated on the special allure of this area.
“The Peak District has the perfect blend of high moorland areas, challenging terrain and a wonderful sense of wilderness… especially at night. Precisely because of the superb nature of the area, we have had to negotiate over a two year period with the National Trust, National Park and other agencies to secure permission for this event. We have six different courses on offer and they all take advantage of some of the best parts of Bleaklow and Kinder Scout. It promises to a superb test of competitors’ mountain running skills.
Marmot Dark Mountain - FINAL (BLACK)
Marmot Dark Mountains™ takes place on the last weekend of January each year, and the inaugural event took place in what can only be described as diabolical weather (just have a look at the videos on the event website) but Shane Ohly knows this is all part of the attraction.
“Obviously, we would all like to have a still, cloud free and moonlit night but competitors don’t enter this event unless they are up for an epic mountain running experience and it is our job to deliver this safely without compromising on the nature of the challenge. The knowledge gained from the first event shows that with experienced and vetted competitors, you can run an event in atrocious weather and allow the competitors to make decisions about their own safety. Kenny Leitch, a competitor at the 2013 event summed it up nicely.
“What an extraordinary event! I did my first mountain marathon 24 years ago and Marmot Dark Mountains™ definitely had the worst conditions ever.”
Image ©benwinston Marmot Dark Mountains - iancorless.com

Image ©benwinston Marmot Dark Mountains – iancorless.com 

As a night mountain marathon, the event presents some unique challenges to both the competitors and the organisers. This year Ourea Events has been working in collaboration with Harvey Maps to produce a bespoke ‘high contrast’ map of the event area, which shows the contours and other map detail with greater clarity than a standard map.
With the announcement of the event area, the organisers have also released details of the planner’s optimum routes. The 2014 planner, Dave Taylor, is a very experienced fell runner and Peak District local so the competitors can expect that his optimum routes really are the quickest way to complete each of the courses.
C Course = Distance 36.3km / Height Gain 1,547m
B Course = Distance 41.1km / Height Gain 1,785m
A Course = Distance 44.4km / Height Gain 1,940m
Elite Course = Distance 55.5km / Height Gain 2,635m
Short Score = 8 hours
Long Score = 10 hours
BW-Sponsors-Marmot BW-Sponsors-Silva
With the support of sponsorship from Marmot® and Silva® there is a £500 cash prize for the winning elite team at the event. This year the competition is really hotting up, with top elite runners Tim Higginbottom and Chris Near from Team Hagloffs already entered.
Tim said, “Elite mountain marathons are hard to finish let alone win; the courses are long, navigation tricky and route choices crucial. So if you take this concept, remove the half-way rest, run it overnight to make the navigation nearly impossible – and then stage it in deepest winter for good measure you have something that will stretch the best to their limit! There’s a certain type of person that enjoys a challenge this hard. See you out there!”
LINKS:
Date: 25th & 26th January 2014
Venue: Peak District National Park
Entry: £45 per person
Courses: Elite, A, B, C, Short Score and Long Score