I’m sitting at the airport in Kathmandu waiting to board a flight to Lukla to start a trek. Bad weather over the past few days has delayed many flights, so I have some time to catch up on some writing. Below is a post about the trail run I did just over a week ago.
It was just before 7am on Saturday 21st of March. Forty eight people gathered around getting to know one another as they prepared for the second running of 33km and 50km “Kathmandu West Valley Rim Trail Run”, held just outside Kathmandu, Nepal.
With crisp weather conditions we left the gates of the Nagarjun National Park and straight into the first climb of the day. The initial steep climb, about eight hundred meters over three kilometers, gave us an idea of what was in store for the rest of the day.
As I have been moving around a bit the last few weeks I’ve not focused too much on my running training and went into this race a little under prepared. I’d also decided that my conversion process to Vibram five-fingers and minimal running was complete, and that this 50km trail event was a good place to give them a real test. No.
After the initial climb the following fourteen kilometers descended and undulated with a reasonable (three hundred meter) climb at around the 12km mark, all the while views of the majestic Himalaya surrounded us. The downhill that followed was a welcome chance to catch some breath, but the sharp rocky terrain was starting to take it’s toll under-sensitive-foot.
At around the 17km mark, at a sharp left turn, sat a wise-looking Nepalese man. As we greeted and ran passed him to begin the next accent, something in his manner told me there was trouble ahead. In the four kilometers and almost one hour and twenty minutes that followed, I was able to reflect on how calm the Nepalese man’s eyes had been, despite his knowledge of our impending suffering.
The climb to the highest point of the first half of the race, was an ear popping 950 meter rocket with slope over 48% in places. After many stops, to admire the view make sure I was still breathing and check vital signs, I reached the 2450m summit. As I began the wide but “stoney” decent, I started another forty five minute long game of: “On this path of very sharp, pointy stones, which ones look the least sharp to stand on”.
The twelve kilometers, after the 33km / 50km split, wound through some peaceful local villages with friendly locals and kids staring in amazement as the white faces ran past their homes. At thirty seven kilometers, just as I was starting to enjoy a false sense that it was smooth sailing and perhaps two hours till I could put my aching feet up, the final big climb of the day started. Not as steep as the swine from the first half, but higher, climbing 600 meters to the highest point on the course – 2496m.
The final 7km descent to the finish was a tough set of stairs. Just too steep to run with tired legs, but small enough to remind you that if you felt better, you would be able to run these. I finished the event in around ten and a half hours and as I sat at the finish line sipping a beer, I thought back half an hour … I had sat down on one of the stairs a few hundred meters from the summit of the highest point on the race, suffering, I asked myself “why do I choose to put myself through this?” As I started to think this, I looked up and saw the sun setting over the Himalaya and the question faded from my mind.
GP’s top 5 tips for getting through this event:
Be prepared to be challenged.
Get to know your fellow participants – you might spend a good few hours together.
Take time to interact with the local people – they love seeing “tourists”.
Don’t be a poes – make sure your equipment is correct.
- Take the time to appreciate the amazing surroundings this run takes you to.