Returning home after this year's spring season leading two KE climbing trips in Nepal was strange. Usually nobody takes much notice, most either hardly notice that I've been away or after so many years leading KE groups have now got used to it. This season was different. On the 29th May with my friend Phanden Sherpa I ran the Everest Marathon and friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours and most people I meet are all keen to know all about it.
For the more goulish questioners I feel that I have disappointed them. It was a great event. I really enjoyed it, I'm no super athlete and it was my first marathon.
The race goes from the bottom serac of the Khumbu Glacier, through Base Camp and onto the moraines at the side. It then follows the normal trekking route through Lobuche to Dingboche. From there it turns uphill to near to Chukkung before returning back downhill to rejoin to normal trail above Pangboche. It then climbs up to Tangboche monastery and drops steeply down to the river at Phunki Tenga Another long uphill leads to Kangjuma and this is followed by a few welcome easy kilometres along a balcony path into Namche Bazaar and the finish. It is, in case you are wondering the full marathon distance and begins at a height of over 5300m and ends at 3400m. There is also a 60km Ultra marathon on the same day.
Training wise I hadn't run at all since the end of March when I arrived in Nepal. I do quite frequently run in the Peak District near my home. Phanden and I had however been climbing and trekking at high altitude for many weeks and I'm sure that made a difference. The best running training would be long, slow and over rough ground.
My tips for future runners are a bit similar to those I would give for going on many KE trips. Enjoy what you are doing and where you are. Look after yourself by eating, drinking and keeping warm, protect yourself against the sun, especially on the glacier and crucially go slowly. At the start of the race about half the group sprinted off from the whistle. Later I passed many of them.
It is said that most people will do about twice their normal marathon time, so don't set out to try to prove anything and anyway the Nepali runners will always be way better than the rest of us.
The whole event is organised by KE's long time agent and friends in Kathmandu, Himex. They do a fantastic job in very difficult conditions. Image trying to feed nearly 200 people three times a day camped on the Khumbu Glacier in the snow. Most people trekked up to the Base Camp in small groups lead by Himex leaders. Janet my wife and I did our own thing and only met up with the main party at BC. Despite this everyone was really friendly both during the preparation stage and on the run itself. Supporters and trekkers along the way all gave encouraging cheers as we passed too. Fortunately most of the Everest expeditions had already left BC so there wasn't that much yak traffic to manoeuvre round along the trail either.
There are many highs and lows on the day, both psychological ones and geographical ones. For Phanden and me the low point was probably a hill we had both trekked up dozens of times before from Deboche to Tangboche. It's not the longest or the steepest but we had run out of umph and needed energy food and water at the check point at the top.
The Himex team had many checkpoints and water points along the route where the crew cheered us on. I was particularly inspired when just below Kangjuma the "official" said that there were only about 40 foreigners ahead of me. We had another surge of energy on the long balcony path into Namche too. Janet had trekked down with a porter the day before and had positioned herself on a good viewpoint by a stupa. When we saw her waving the sore feet and knees were forgotten and we all jogged in reasonable style through the finishing gate together.
Himex had thought of everything and we were immediately handed drinks, a much needed souvenir tracksuit (by then the cloud had come in and it was cold) and a well earned medal.
The last runners on the day reached the finish at 10.30 pm, by which time I had showered, eaten a large Dahl Baat and had been asleep for several hours.
Would I do it again? Well, a mile from the finish Phanden said to me "Tom Dai when we do the Ultra I think we need to train for two or three months before", without thinking I replied "Phanden Bhai, I think you are right."
Results for Tom and the KE clients...
Tom Richardson finished the race in 81st place with a fantastic time of 8:45:20 with Phanden Sherpa hot on his heals behind him.
KE would like to congratulate Tom and the entire group on an incredible effort. In particular well done to KE client John Ewart who finished in 44th place and was the 3rd person from the UK to cross the finish line this year.
KE Group placements and times
44th Mr John Ewart - 07:23:10
59th Mr Paul Longster - 08:04.33
78th Mr Richard Leahy - 08:39:35
79th Mr Michael Mason - 08:40:00
94th Mr Tim Dooley - 09:37:40
96th Mr Doug Macisaac - 09:41:20
107th Mrs Carolyne Sanders - 10:28:56
110th Mr Robert Watson - 10:48:17
122nd Mrs Debra Hay - 12:21:22
123rd Miss Angela Tillman - 12:21:23
124th Mr George Hay - 12:21:24
130th Mr Joan Llopart Moragas - 13:05:20
131st Mrs Isabel Puig Torrents - 13:05:21
The overall winner of the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon 2013 was Ram Kumar Raj Bhandari from Nepal. He finished in an incredible 3 hrs 59 mins and 45 secs!