मई 29, 2023 Live from the road

Everest Base Camp - Namche Bazaar

Reported by Dhavala Stott 42.0 km

May 29th 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of Tenzing and Hillary's immortal first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. In this photo Everest is peeking behind a cloud, just to the left of the highest looking peak in the photo- Lhotse. Having spent just 2 nights at base camp, we marveled at the resilience and patience of the climbers from back then and the current day who spend up to 40 nights there before starting their climb.
"Individual self-transcendence collectively inspires Humanity at large." ~Sri Chinmoy

The morning dawned without the frost and snow that we'd seen the previous 2 mornings- a glorious day for running.

Six Peace Runners lined up for the full marathon from Base Camp as well as two more who would complete the half marathon starting in Dingboche. It is the 18th running of 'the world's highest marathon' with around 200 runners entered, including 150 from overseas. There is also a 70km ultra and a half marathon taking place on the same day.

Luckily we have some photos from the route as words can't do justice to the vastness or sheer beauty of the mountains. Even on the hike up when we couldn't always see them, we could feel their peaceful presence.

The marathon starts at an altitude of 5356m and finishes in Namche at 3440, which makes it sound down hill all the way, but there's also around 1000 metres of ascent and as we'd discovered on the hike up, Nepalese trails can definitely be described as undulating.

We were blessed with clear skies which gave us breathtaking views all along the route. The terrain was challenging and in the first half especially we could really feel the effects of the altitude, so we moved along at either a slow jog or fast walk according to how we felt.

Ama Dablam gives a glorious backdrop for the Peace Torch, carried all the way by Ankurika.

The top Nepalese runners had flown from the start line. Many of them are adapted to the altitude and move over the terrain with ease and grace. The first Nepalese man finished in 3.48 and the first woman in 5.28. For the rest of us, our times would be around double what we might take on a flat sea level course.

Descending into Dingboche before embarking on a challenging out and back (uphill!!) loop to reach halfway.

Shyamala receiving a hard-earned wristband to show she's completed the out and back section.

Further down the route the altitude made it more comfortable to move a bit quicker and we were now surrounded by green and rocks rather than snowy tops.

There were frequent aid stations, which were always a welcome sight. The aid stations workers all gave us great encouragement as well as much needed refills of water and snacks.

Over bridges....

Through villages.....

Past Stupa's.....

A well-earned little sit down for Preetidutta. The last 8 miles were probably the hilliest of the course with what seemed like half of that being uphill- we became sure the hills had doubled in height since we walked up the trail!

Tengboche Monastery was a welcome sight, coming around the 20 mile mark and after a long climb through flowering rhododendron bushes.

Laxmi Magar ran the half marathon, here she's holding the torch lit at Buddha's birthplace in Lumbini.

Roshni Rai after completing the half marathon.

Abhejali and Magdalena finishing the half marathon in 4.02 and 4.26 respectively.

Some of the team offered a few words about their experience of the race.
Ankurika, who finished in 7.33, " I really enjoyed (most of) the marathon as it was a perfect finale for our amazing expedition. Running on technical terrain kept the mind busy and those fantastic downhills surrounded by stunning panorama really conveyed a feeling of flying on top of the world."

Dhavala finished in 7.44. "For about the first 16-18 miles I found running just felt too uncoordinated because of the altitude so I got myself into as fast a hike as I could and tried to remember to look around and appreciate where I was- not so easy when I was also watching the ground in my efforts not to trip on the rocks! On the switchback part of the course I was finding the uphill tough going when I looked up and saw Ankurika running towards me holding the Peace Torch. Having seen the Torch running relay- style down roads around the world it gave me a lot of joy to see it being run through the mountains. Around 23 miles in I was puffing up a 2 mile long hill when I passed a British couple hiking. They said they wanted to ask one of the runners if they were enjoying it?? I replied it maybe wasn't the best time to ask, but that once I'd finished, it would be one of the best things I'd ever done."

Harita finished in 8.49 "Running this marathon was so unique! Dodging yaks, gasping for air while barely jogging, unfathomable surroundings, sweetest recollections from our journey up...what a great privilege! All my gratitude to the many seen and unseen mountain dweller-servers who made it possible!"

Pretidutta happily finishing in 9.33.
"The marathon was filled with new experiences from start to finish!
We lined up at 6:30am. It was a beautiful clear day! So many of the 150 runners were also first-timers and had no idea what to expect, so we were all in this together. The horn went, and we were off, dodging our first hurdle, the yaks taking up the track. The Nepalese runners bounded off over the rocks and finished hours before any international finishers.
It was nice to run back through the towns and villages we had spent time in on our journey up. All the sweet memories of each place and the people we met. Some recognized us and cheered.
I was happy to have other runners near me the whole way, so we felt like a team. A lot of the track was rocky or steep, so we were hiking more than we were running. But any opportunity to run, we would.
The second half of the marathon came with 2 very steep and long climbs up. I took these so slowly, I couldn't go any faster. I had to stop many times to rest and catch my breath. The Nepalese porters carrying huge loads on their back were smiling and encouraging me as they proceeded past. Many times throughout the marathon I thought the end would never come. It was tough! But very worthwhile. The feeling after finishing was extremely satisfying.
Not only finishing the highest marathon in the world but it was the culmination of the whole life-changing experience! For the last 10 days, being absorbed in the culture and with the people of this beautiful Everest region was deeply memorable. The two nights staying at Everest Base Camp were an amazing experience, getting to know the other runners and their different stories of what brought them here. And finally running the marathon, a fantastic and unique experience of a lifetime."

Sweta and Shyamala finishing, joined by some local kids and surrounded by the donkeys on the path they had to weave past to find the finish line!

Shyamala and Sweta finished in 11.08.
Shyamala- " I'm delighted and grateful to complete this marathon and to have been a part of such a unique Peace Run! I was only able to hike but that didn't matter :) With the acclimatisation it's a marathon adventure that starts 10 days before so why rush back down!! I didn't even think of my day as a 'marathon race' - more a full days journey in the mountains. Moving back down the paths, through all the villages, up and down the valleys we'd traveled on our way up.
Receiving my finishers medal I offer gratitude to Peace Run founder Sri Chinmoy, and the mountains for the peace, joy and strength they always bring to my heart."

Our 3 sherpa's effortlessly switched to race support today to put in another marathon shift of their own- quite literally in Karma's case as he completed the full marathon after being up at 3am to help prepare and serve breakfast to all the runners! Sonam and Kami were waiting at the finish for each team member and then guided us all through the finishers process of a trip to the medical tent before collecting our certificates and medals. To have those who grew up, work and live among these mountains to guide us helps more than we can say- our gratitude to Sonam, Kami and Karma Sherpa and our ever smiling porters who somehow managed to get our luggage from base camp to the finish before we reached it!

The finishers smiles say it all :-)

Shyamala and Sweta had the welcome company of Karma Sherpa along the way. Especially as he kindly ran ahead to order them much needed garlic soup at the half way tea house (Shyamala's magic potion!)

Shikhar Pandey, the event director holds the torch. Thank You Shikhar and the whole organising team for so whole-heartedly welcoming the Peace Run to your event and taking first class care of the team. We have run races around the world and found the organisation here to be excellent- we'd definitely recommend it.

Dr Udaya Raj Sharma, holding the torch, an enviromentalist and conservationist who helped create the Sagarmatha National park.

This Nepalese runner looked extremely fresh after completing her run.

Many of the locals had worn their traditional sherpa dress for the occasion.

The winners results!

The overall marathon winners!

We were thrilled to get our picture with Manju Rawat, the womens marathon winner.

Much gratitude for a Peace Run day that will live long in our hearts.

Many of the photos in today's report are with kind permission from the Everest Marathon. Many were taken by Anuj Adhikary, a talented photographer who we were happy to meet at base camp. You can see some of his incredible work here: https://anujadhikary.com/#intro

Torch carried by
Abhejali Bernardová (Czech Republic), Ankurika Hammerl (Austria), Dhavala Stott (Great Britain), Harita Davies (New Zealand), Jayasalini Abramovskikh (Russia), Kuleshvari Sulic (Serbia), Magdalena Lewosinska (Poland), Preetidutta Thorpe (New Zealand), Shyamala Stott (Great Britain), Sweta Pradhan (Nepal).  
Accompanied by  
Mira Rai (NP), Laxmi Magar (NP), Sonam Sherpa (NP), Karma Sherpa (NP), Kami Sherpa (NP), Roshni Rai
Abhejali Bernardová, Harita Davies, Shyamala Stott
The torch has travelled 42.0 km from Everest Base Camp to Namche Bazaar.

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