By the time the alarm went off at 4.30, i’d already been awake for hours, my head too full of thoughts for sleep. Thoughts about what we’d achieved and what was still to come. Thoughts of course of Lucinda and home, but also thoughts of the amazing people i’d met in this magical place, friends i’d soon be saying goodbye to and that i may never see again.
Breakfast as always looked terrific, after some toast, an omelet and a cup of coffee, it was time to leave our bags behind us and head for the buses. Once again the buses wound there way around along the trail taking us back up the road to where we’d left off yesterday.
By 8am we were off, taking the first steps on this last stage of our great adventure.
Starting from the back i slowly worked my way forward, searching for my running partner of the day before. After a couple of minutes i found Iryna and together we started to climb the gentle slopes that would take us gradually upward for the next 10km.
We no longer had the views of Everest, Makalu or Kanchenjunga, but the views of the lush green valleys were just as beautiful, and at this slower pace there was even time for having fun, jumping streams and shouting ‘Namaste’ into the valleys we ran. For me today was not about times, but instead about appreciating every moment of the run that remained.
Once more we’d got sweets for the children we met and today i’d brought the pencils and crayons that Lucinda had bought for them. It was touching that such small gifts, brought so much joy.
The road had levelled off now, and the check points were coming thick and fast, but I no longer wanted to see the distances marked upon them. Unlike on day one, i was in no rush for today’s run to end, but soon the finish line loomed.
The same band that had played us out on monday, with its drums and pipes, were there back to welcome our return. It didn’t feel like i’d ran 100 miles and I even found the energy to hurdle the finish tape as Iryna and i crossed the line together.
Later, as the remaining runners came in, I caught up with Paul, Jo, and Di in the village hall and we chatted over a beer and some spicy potatoes. But i didn’t get to rest for long. Apparently further up the hill, our Italian friend Giorgio was suffering with an upset stomach and an injured ankle, and that Henda’s knee problem being aggravated by the downhill section. Having taken it easy for the past two days, i still felt fresh enough to head back out and give them some encouragement on their final couple of miles.
Without the burden of my bum bag, I made fairly easy work of running the 5 or 6 Km back up the hill to just short of the second last check point, where i found Giorgio and Henda walking together. They both seemed pretty happy to see me and to learn that they didn’t have far to go and i was rewarded with smiles, a hug and some friendly banter on the way back down.
To me this seemed the perfect way to end a sensational adventure, pulling together to finish the run we’d started together, having shared fantastic times in beautiful surroundings.
Amazing account of what sounds like a fabulous race. I really wanted to do it this year, but a house move (which turned into a renovation project!) put the plans on hold. Hopefully next year
I definitely recommend it, if you have the chance. It was a fantastic experience, and not just the running but the travel and meeting other runners as well. It was also very well organised, in terms of route marking having plenty of drinks and snacks, and the logistics of moving bags around were spot on. Planning the travel was difficult without contact details of other runners etc, and i would definitely recommend a taking a few days extra in India, which i didn’t do but deeply regret not doing.