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.
Enjoying my last day at Namche Bazar and ending my 4 day training at this altitude. In the next 16-18 days I will be trekking in the higher areas of Gokyo and Khumbu Valley and I return for another week of training here before I finally set myself up for the marathon. It is so far ahead. Yesterdat and today I managed to do about an 90min each with some walking (which is always a case). If you look at the picture you could see that everything is up or down..there is no easy run. Just a few things ahead: I will be spending about 16 days over 4400m and try to ascend over 5000m about 6-7 times (walking up a few smaller peaks) to get closer to those famous and amazing places in this part of the Himalyas.
Another post from Sagarmatha National Park. I am still enjoying the luxury of Namche and working on my preparation. Yesterday I went for a a walk/run training and ended up moving in a fair pace, but had to slow down enjoying the scenery, which was unbelievable: Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Everest and many other peaks on the horizon. Plus managed to get out quick before the rush hour , so actually saw some wildlife: pheasants, eagles, vultures. Today I tested my endurance and went for a 2hr 40min training towards west (Thame, small Hydro-electric station -supplying the area) and back. About 4-500m height gain (up to 3820m) and some tough ground. It was just enough with the food and water I had in my system. I might extend my stay here to get more acclimatized for higher areas, so I could start training there too.
Believe or not I am sitting in an internet place in Namche Bazaar (3400m) and writing a new post. The last days went well as I had planned. I flew to Lukla(2800m) on 17 April and spend a day with restiing. Next day I went for a longer walk/run and actually ended up moving up to 3500m and ran down, tough workout - 2hrs 10minutes. Next day I was expecting a lot of pain in my quads from all the pounding I did to them, but I still went for a run..on easier terrain. This was a proper one with no stops and walks: 1 hour, down to 2600m and back with lots of small ups and downs (steps, rocks, dust). Some people looked at me with disgust some were just wondering: he probably needs help! Today I came up to Namche with all my gear (25kg) and I am ready to spend more time at this altitude before I move higher up towards Gokyo (4700m). Weather is holding well and the visibility is great. More soon.
I managed to take one of the last flights from England, so I arrived Kathmandu yesterday. Few funny moments were along the journey, as it usauly happens if you make your way through India. I tried to fly lightway, so I ended up with only one check in bag (approx. 20kg, icncluding tent, sleeping bag and all clothes) and no hand luggage except a small digital camera and a money belt. Seemed like I will be quick through security..until I got to New Delhi transit. It took me about 15minutes to get through: they checked my money belt 4 times and my camera case twice..and finally put a massive handbag sticker on my "mouse size" camera case. Of course the sign said: Aeroflot (I was flying with Jet Airways). No worries. Nice temperature on the runway - around +40 Celsius and sunny. Flight was good andf arrived safely to Kathmandu Airport, where I was welcomed by 200 local taxi drivers..wanting a piece of me and my luggage- only charging 5 times as much as they would for a local (of course they never use taxis). After some entertaining moments I found a friend who was willing to have a nice 7km walk with me to Thamel (tourist part), where I invaded my prebooked accomodation and enjoyed an afternoon sleep. Today I spent my time joining the local walking program on the streets of Thamel. Lot of participants and some serious looking, hippy-hobo type, grass type and locals enjoyed the workout and of course we all contributed reducing the smog level by inhaling as much as we can. Leaving for the mountains tomorrow..Training begins. More soon... (picture was taken on flight to Lukla)
It has been awhile I posted any notes here, I could say many reasons - why, but I just start a new chapter. I have been preparing myself for different disciplines for many years such as competitions, work, general fittness or some extreme ocasions. I am not sure where I should put this one. To me nature is a very special element especially when it comes to mountainous regions and environment. I have been thinking about completing an official marathon distance for a long time. Throughout my 20+ year running career I have done it many times for training, but never entered a real one. It is about time. Last year I decided to enter this very special marathon which combines distance, mountains and altitude and in an amazing setup: Khumbu Valley For this reason I changed my training slightly to fit the requirements. Having done some intense workouts such as running in deep snow for hours and skiing 30-40kms on low energy intake I believe I have got a solid foundation to build upon. In the next 6-7 weeks I try to keep you updated how things are going and how I actually prepare for this challenge in Nepal. You can follow me up to the Everest Region. I am not sure I would be available all time, but once in awhile I give some details of my progress and finally I tell you about the race itself. Everest Marathon facts: official maraton distance, starting point at Everest Base Camp -5370m, finish line at Namche Bazaar -3600m, mainly downhill-but there are some energy sapping uphills, cold, snow, heat, rain, only 100 runners for all around the world and one of the most amazing surroundings-the highest peaks in the world. One more week until I fly to Nepal until that I do my last workouts in the UK.