Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 152 August 2022 | Page 47

Images : Keith MacIntosh , Nabin Sakpota / Wikipedia , Thin Cat / Wikipedia & courtesy Scott McIvor
I sent in my application with some trepidation , as I had not yet run a full ( organised ) marathon , but I emphasised my normal weekend activities , which included hiking and running the Munros . Some days in the mountains were in excess of 10 to 12 hours ’ duration , and ( on one occasion ) over 16 hours ( over 70km ), with between 2500 to 3000 metres of ascent and descent . But would this be sufficient , given the other entries and the experience of seasoned ( albeit mostly road ) runners ? I need not have worried . Thankfully , Diana had faith in my abilities and enthusiasm , and accepted my application . My employers were also very supportive , and granted me an extended leave period of one month .
Himalayan Destination
The event was to take place in November , and there was therefore good time to hone in on my ‘ training ,’ which once again comprised daily road runs during the week , and extended days out in the hills over the weekend . By the time the event approached , I felt that I was in relatively good shape , and with the goodwill and support of family and friends , I was ready for my first big adventure in the ‘ outside world ’. A trip to Nepal . A hike to Everest Base Camp . My first marathon – the first Everest Marathon . It was making news round the world , too , including a brief mention on the BBC , and I had been interviewed by the local newspaper before I departed . It felt so good to be a part of this unique challenge , in spite of the dire consequences on one ’ s health predicted by some !
The majority of runners and the organising team met up in London , flying via Dubai and Dacca ( Dhaka ) with Biman Bangladesh Airlines . An eight-hour layover in Dacca was spent on a whirlwind five-hour city tour , and then we arrived in Kathmandu , the Nepalese capital , and ( at the time ), the only Hindu kingdom in the world . We stayed in the Hotel Shanker , which was formerly a residence of the royal family of Nepal , leaving the noisy
city outside the walls , and enjoying some relative peace and quiet in its extensive gardens .
Over the next few days , we slowly became acquainted with each other , and spent time on guided tours to the capital ’ s most famous landmarks , including Swayambhunath Temple ( also known as the Monkey Temple ), and Boudhanath Stupa , a 2500-year-old Buddhist stupa , with four pairs of eyes of Lord Buddha in four directions keeping an eternal watch over the people and their doings . Many Buddhist pilgrims from Tibet were there circum-ambulating the stupa and spinning prayer wheels . We also visited Pashupatinah Temple , one of the holiest temples of Nepal , dedicated to the Hindu God , Shiva , and Durbar ( the central square ), displaying the Newari architecture that reached its pinnacle during the reign of the Malla kings , who were great builders and patrons of the arts .
Time to Acclimatise
A few days later , local chartered buses took us from Kathmandu to the end of a road heading towards the Everest region , to a small town called Jiri . We were a large group , including runners , doctors , nurses , the organisers and course marshals , but also porters , cooks and kitchen staff . It resembled an army on the march ! We camped for the three-week itinerary , with tents chosen over teahouses , as they tend to be cleaner and warmer , although lodges were used as dining rooms at higher altitudes , as there was somewhere comfortable to sit in the evenings . In order to make daily logistics easier , especially with the limited camping sites available , the full group was divided into two separate teams , with a day ’ s hiking between each team .
Our daily routine included early morning tea and some warm water for a wash , brought to our tents by our porter staff . This was followed by breakfast . On most days , the morning hike was between two and three
Early morning tea brought to the camping runners as they begin acclimatizing . ( 2019 race )
Daily hikes help the runners acclimatise to the rarefied air of the Himalayan Mountains . ( 2019 race )
hours ’ duration , followed by a brief stop for lunch , followed by another hike , similar in length and time to the morning . We usually arrived back at our campsite by mid-afternoon , and we were welcomed with some hot tea and snacks . At lower altitudes , dinner was in a mess tent in the early evening , and time was
The Swayambhunath Monastery in Kathmandu , also known as The Monkey Temple