Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 167 April 2024 | Page 31

and Peshawar ( near the historic Khyber Pass on the Afghanistan border ), as well as the hill-station of Murree . However , the most important blessing , for me , was the people that we met and interacted with . They were friendly , welcoming and most charming , especially in the hill areas where we had trekked and climbed . I was very lucky .
Scott poses with K2 during one of his earlier trips to Pakistan .
Scott summits Gasherbrum 11 in 1998 .
Being also a runner , I reflected how appealing it would be if a run were organised in the region , especially on some of the trails leading to the glaciers , as the surrounding scenery would more than compensate for any adverse effects of running at altitude . However , after the September 11 attack on the USA in 2001 , visiting Pakistan became less of a priority , due to the ongoing civil strife in that country , as well as external strife with and in neighbouring countries , and it was only 2019 that I returned , after I had retired from my banking and accountancy profession at the end of 2017 and settled down to retired life in Cape Town .
While working in Qatar for four years , I had joined the Doha Bay Running Club , which became my running and social scene , and I met runners there from many different parts of the world . A running acquaintance who I had previously met on several occasions in marathons in the Middle East , Ziyad Rahim , was also based in Doha , and had multiple Guiness World Records in running to his name . He established Z Adventures , which specialises in organising marathon events in different countries , and he has tapped into a market whereby runners can combine their love of running with travelling and experiencing different cultures .
Z Adventures had offered Pakistan as a destination for one of their adventure marathons in 2017 and in 2018 , but on both occasions , I had work and family commitments that prevented me from participating . A third opportunity arose in 2019 , most likely to be held in August , which was when I had pre-arranged to participate in several trail runs in South Africa , and it seemed that I couldn ’ t participate once again , but fortunately for me , when Ziyad made the final arrangements , the date was rescheduled to the third week in September , and that was available .
Ziyad requested the submission of running CVs , as he was constrained by the number of runners that he could take , and he wanted to include runners from diverse countries and with different backgrounds , including some running their first marathon . It was an honour to be chosen when the final selection was announced .

In the 1990s , while based in Saudi Arabia , I was fortunate to visit Pakistan – ‘ Land of the Pure ’ in Urdu and Persian – on three separate occasions . As I was a keen climber and trekker , I could indulge my passion for participating in expeditions in the Karakoram , the mountain range in northern Pakistan that straddles its border with China and the disputed Kashmir region with India . This range includes four peaks higher than 8000m , including K2 , the world ’ s secondhighest peak at 8 ??? m .

Ziyad Rahim of Z Adventures .
On my third trip to Pakistan , in 1998 , I successfully summited Gasherbrum 11 , the world ’ s 13-highest peak at 8035m . On that day , as it was not climbing season in the Himalayan ranges in Nepal due to the monsoon , and there were no climbing teams at a higher altitude on K2 , there was no-one in the world at an altitude higher than us . This was the second time I could claim that , after summiting Everest in 1993 !
One of my inspiring memories is enjoying the breath-taking scenery on the famous
Karakoram Highway . This roadway is approximately 1300km long , and was built in cooperation with China , terminating on the Pakistan side at the Khunjerab Pass at an altitude of 4714m . The highway is often described as the eighth wonder of the world , due to its high elevation and the tough conditions during its construction , winding through mountains , and alongside parts of the fabled ‘ Silk Road ,’ which connected the trade routes between the East and the West in the middle-ages .
The Karakoram Region of Pakistan .
My three trips to Pakistan also gave me the opportunity to visit renowned cities in the country – not only the modern capital of Islamabad , but also the much older historical cities of Rawalpindi ( with its bazaars and markets ), Lahore ( with its fort and Shalimar Gardens )
The Highway to the Heavens .