Another trip report from an unusual location: Hungary! I should have had more of these stories, but sadly nowadays I spend more time away from my home than at home. I recruited a few members of my family to do a walk/challenge in an area called "Witness Mountains". There are several hills/mountains in an area on the northwest of Lake Balaton called wittnes mountains, which are representing volcanic history and solid erosion. This challenge/walk is part of a series and we just decided to do it in a few days before. A few facts: 24km, 820m climb, 3 peaks and 8 control points. We decided to add another peak at the beginning since the peak was really close to the start, so we changed the tour to a 28km, 1100m climb. Overnight there was a massive snowfall which made this hike an absolutely epic trip with lots of falls, mud, snow and laughter. Four of us walked together all the way to the finish line and managed to do it in 6hrs 59minutes, what was only one minute away from the deadline. Great trip and amazing views!
In a few words I would like to explain the route. There are two Everest marathons, one in November and one in May. Both of them run on similar ground, but the main difference is in the start and finish sections. The one in May starts from Khumbu Glacier (EBC) and runs on a route of: Gorak Shep, Lobuche, Thukla, Dingboche, Thyangboche, Khunde Hospital, Khumjung Hillary School, Syangboche, Namche Bazar following the historical places of the first successful Everest Expedition (reached summit on 29 May, 1953, Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary). The other one is running on a lower route starting from Gorak Shep and adding the extra miles in Namche area towards Thame, before it turns back and finishes in Namche Bazar. Looking at the profile and the difficulty of both races it is clear that the marathon in May offers more challenges with the extra time spent at higher altitude plus the "breathtaking" Khunde climb (more than 600m). Most of the runners "powerwalk" this part since it is almost impossible to run after spending so many kilometers running downhill at that altitude. If we go more into details this event is a seriuos trail running challenge: icy and snowy start, loose rocks, boulder fields, narrow paths, zig-zags up and down. Both races have limited number of entries, since it runs in Sagarmatha National Park and the impact could be significant. At this time of year the weather starts playing its pre-monsoon game, so please expect anything (snow, rain, sleet, wind, etc). Majority of the paths are narrow so runners need to be aware of trekkers, load carriers, sherpas, animals, etc. The vista on the course is absolutely amazing - if you can look around and behind you without falling- sights of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Taboche, Lobuche, Cholatse, etc. On pictures you can see the start area, Nuptse wall and Gorak Shep sandy field, leaving Pangboche area, Thyangboche Monastry and Namche Bazar (running route comes down on right side -closest zig zag).
Just got back to Kathmandu after travelling back from Namche Bazaar. I have managed to finish the marathon and even take the "first westerner " title. We are all know that theer was no way catching the sherpa runners, but had a great battle for my final 36th place. I ran/walked for 5:34minutes and finished 4th foreigner (first westerner, behind 3 indian army runners). Unfortunately my stomach issues forced me to slow down/ even walk for a long time after keeping my pace to 4:45-5:05 target time. All happened after the 30km mark and I could not do much... Despite of all these facts I was extremely happy to finish in one piece. More details and pictures soon... (Picture: close to start area at Base camp - one day before the race)
After 10 days of recovery and slow training in Namche I am heading up to Everest Base Camp ...once again. In the last days I managed to get back to my "nearly normal" health level (thanks to a huge dose of antibiotics) and even I raised my training regime. Yesterday I topped it with a 190minutes run with 1200m ascent and descent. No need to say that my speed was not detectable and my form needs to be worked on. Other than that I feel pretty much ready for the quest. There will be about 100runners with approx. 30 westerners. Next time I will reporting abouth the race itself.
Just a recap from the last 3 week: I have missed out on a few bits , but most of my plan was executed in a safe manner. I moved up in Gokyo Valley and stayed about 5-6days there and I crossed Tso La and moved to Khumbu Valley then to "Chukung Valley" and returned. Facts:
15 days over 4700m, 7 times over 5100m
3 pass crossings: Renjo La(5400m), Tso La (5350m), Kongma La (5533m)
2 small peaks ( Gokyo Ri, Chukung Ri)
20-25kg backpack, poles, 80% of the time walking and running in trainers
snowed about 4-5 times (no rain)
crossed 3 glaciers
extra feature: Cho Oyu Base Camp visit (amazing place)
Just a short one, before I give a full report. I am back in Namche safe and sound, unfortunately not 100% healthy, but I guess it is all part of the game. I managed to collect a throat infection, so spent some time off and missed out on a few extra bits, but overall had a great time and still up for the challenge. More soon.