Himalayan 100 Miles: Day3 (the marathon)

It was another early morning with the race starting at 6, an hour earlier than yesterday. One advantage of not feeling up to eating was i got to stay in bed that little bit longer. I just managed a cup of tea before the start.

The start of the race followed the same route as we ran yesterday, and I started running in a jacket, gloves and several layers and didn’t warm up enough to take them off for the first hour.

To be honest, this should have been a pretty easy run for me, i wasn’t affected by the altitude, the track was good and there wasn’t too much climbing… but i felt awful. At this stage i had not eaten for a couple of days and even though i knew i had to keep on taking fluids, i was finding it hard to even take even small sips of water, and my ipod was down to the last of its power which i was saving that for the downhill. It was only the views and the encouragement from the returning runners after the turn around that kept me going.

By the time I made it to the top of the last hill, i was about a mile behind the people i’d been running with all week, and the group behind had caught me up. I knew i risked dehydration and forced my self to eat salted red potato, banana and jelly babies before starting the decent.

We’d been warned that the decent was very dangerously steep and to take it easy, but i had my xtalon fell shoes on and downhill is my thing. I turned on the ipod, and started the 5000 feet of decent. Although gradual at first, the trail soon became steep as i leant forward and started to fly. Soon i’d forgot that i hadn’t eaten for days or that i’d struggled at the top. Locked into a little world of my own, i bounded from rock to rock, picking up speed and finding new energy. I was soon drinking again and managed to eat the entire pack of jelly babies as i followed the red painted arrows ever downward. The hill seemed to have no bottom, but it didn’t matter, to me this was pure joy.

Eventually i reached the river, and the first bit of road we’d seen in days. The end should have been in sight, but the road seemed to go on and on. It should have been 8 miles from leaving the top of the hill to reaching the finish line, but it had been far, far more than that. When we finally arrived at the finish in 7 hours and 59 minutes, i learned that this was not a marathon, but my first ultra at 32 miles.

Along the last section of road, as we approached the Rimbik, we were greeted by the usual Namaste’s and smiling faces, but life here is obviously hard. We passed many women and children carrying incredibly heavy loads and a group of men that tirelessly chipped at a giant boulder with rocks and hammers, chipping it into hardcore for the new road being built through the village.

Its amazing how even small things become great pleasures when you don’t have them for a while. The little cafe at the finish in Rimbik, sold glass bottles of coke, i sat in the sun and enjoyed every last drop.

As it began to become dark, our concerns for our friends that were still out on the trail rose, knowing that they would be running far further than they expected to run today, and quite possibly finishing in the cold blackness. I was relieved to see many of my new friends coming in, in pairs or groups, helping each other make it through those final miles.

Tonight’s accommodation would be split between 2 lodges at opposite ends of town, the girls at the bottom and boys at the top. Once again i’d be sharing a room with Paul. Our Lodge was built by the father of the owner 40 years ago, who’s family came from the same village as Sherpa Tensing. The room though small, had a very homely feel, with family photos, pictures and prayers on the wall. The whole family from the grand parents to the children both lived and worked together, in the lodge and it would seem that tonight we had one of their bedrooms, while they slept together in a backroom.

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5 Responses to Himalayan 100 Miles: Day3 (the marathon)

  1. Dan says:

    How on earth did you manage to run 32 miles on an empty fuel tank? Amazing. Hope your guts clear up soon — keep off those Nepalese scooby snacks

  2. Debs M-C says:

    Running on empty? No bother. Running an ultra in x-talons? Now that’s impressive :-)

  3. admin says:

    I just ordered a pair of five fingers from the internet – not sure that i’ll be able to run over fells in them – but i can’t wait to give them a try.

  4. Debs says:

    I’ve been quite tempted by them. I guess you’ve read Born to Run too :-) Interested to see how you get on in them.

    BTW I love xtalons. But for hill running only.

    • admin says:

      My wife bought me born to run earlier this year, but i had been thinking about buying some five fingers for a while, i used to run in barefeet all the time when i was a kid and i use the site dailymile for tracking my runs and there are a lot of americans on there, were the barefoot running thing is huge, but i guess it was talking to a girl on the himalayan run that had some that finally persuaded me to give it a go.

      I love my xtalons too, i bought mine in the spring when i’d signed up to do a desert run (which was later canceled) and wanted something ultra light but with decent grip. I find them really good for up hill on fell runs being so light, but the lack of protection in the mid sole kind of slows me down a little on big rocky decents as you can feel the rocks a bit. I think i need a pair of mudclaws for the rougher races ;->