Race Report - 2017 Everest Trail Race (Stage 3)

11/11/2017 10:00:00 PM

Spectacular view atop a long climb just before starting a big descent.

The third stage presented the longest stage of the race, starting at Jase Bhanjyang just below Pikey peak and finishing at Kharikhola in front of a beautiful monastery atop a steep "hill". We would cover a total of 37.4km or 23 miles and ascend 2,521m or 8,300ft and descend 4,110m or 13,500ft finishing with a 1,300ft climb over the final 1.5 miles. My feet took a serious beating on the descent, which required me to finally try the taping method I had practiced prior to arriving in Nepal prior to the final 3 stages.


After spending what would be the coldest night over 6 days of racing, I woke up shortly before 5AM, just in time to zip open our tent for the first round of hot Sherpa tea. Fortunately, the coldest night was still a balmy 28 degrees Fahrenheit rather than the forecast for a teeth chattering low teens. While I was always concerned about every gram of weight in my pack, exchanging my 20F sleeping bag for a 5F rated sleeping bag was definitely worth the extra 100 or so grams. The right gear choices can make or break an event like this, not just regarding your running gear, but especially as it relates to your recovery gear in camp. I spent the 9 months leading up to the race weighing gear weight vs. gear purpose.


Most runners were wearing an extra layer of clothing as the morning air was still crisp after the chilly night. I opted to go short sleeve yet again as I knew I'd be warming up as soon as the climbing began...and there was always plenty of climbing to do:-)

View from our basecamp at the finish of stage 3.

My strategy was once again to stay within my own means and run my own race, so I lined up behind the top ten or so runners as we all tried to stay warm at the exposed starting line. Those chills quickly turned to sweat beads as we immediately started a short steep climb to begin stage 3.

One of the many technical descents with a spectacular backdrop.

While I felt pretty good at the start and was excited to get going, that excitement quickly turned into a feeling of strange exhaustion and lack of energy less than 6 miles into this stage, not the best thing to happen on the longest stage of the race at just over 20 miles. My legs felt ok, I was just experiencing extremely low energy. All I could do was slow down and hope for improvement. I kept a steady pace, but there was some walking into and out of checkpoints today. A little nudge from one of my fellow competitors, Ester Alves, after one of the checkpoints got my motivated to keep moving. I just followed her as we started the longest descent of the race that made up the majority of the 12,000ft descent of the day. 

Can you say gnarly ascent?

While my feet certainly took a beating on all of the descending, I did manage to keep going. Unlike the previous 2 days, this stage had a kicker at the end of it, an 1,800ft climb over less than 2 miles. It all but broke me, especially when I looked up early on to see the task at hand. All I could do was to put my head down and grind it out until I would hear the welcoming RD and volunteers at the finish.

Prayer flags framed many of the spectacular views in the Himalayas.

The finish line was definitely one of the more spectacular ones as we climbed a long set of stairs after passing through a beautiful gate to complete the day in front of a monastery. I actually stopped before crossing the finish line just to take in the sight and to take some pictures. 


This location also had a teahouse at the bottom of the hill. It was the most welcome sight during the race as my low levels of energy had me envisioning drinking an ice cold Coke at the finish, which now was actually a possibility, since I had brought about 3000 Rupees as emergency funds as suggested by the race organization. Who would have thought that you could buy a Coke in the middle of the Himalayan Mountains...I certainly did not and I would have paid them way more than I was actually charged, since I knew how all the supplies got there, often on the backs of porters and sometimes by use of mules and yak. The Nepalese people are the strongest and most resilient people I've ever met, oh yeah, and the most friendly by far.

Many Himalayan hillsides are used for farming.

The second highlight of the day, aside from the delicious Coke at the finish, was the fact that we all caught our first glimpse of Mount Everest. The namesake and ultimate "destination" of this race finally made an appearance at the horizon, snow-capped and beautifully framed by Lhotse and Ama Dablam.



One of the many amazing hanging bridges that we would cross.


Yup, Mount Everest in all its glory.





The Nepalese people decorate their animals and their vehicles beautifully.


A short section of actual dirt trail:-)




We crossed this river a couple of times.


One always has to watch their footing on these descents.



Trails reminiscent of old cobblestone roads.


There's always time for a mid-race selfie with fellow runners, Bob Harding and myself.




One of the hundreds of mule and yak trains we'd encounter along the race course.


Spectacular views as far as the eye could see.


Altra elite runner Sondre Amdahl taking a moment for a picture. No mid-race selfies with this guy, he was crushing it!






Tim Mulcare, myself and Paul Martin post-race just below the finish line.


Picture of the Kharikhola monastery.

Picture of basecamp in front of the Kharikhola monastery.




Kharikhola finish line atop a set of never ending stairs:-)


Spectacular frame for today's finish line.


Basecamp laundry...just take it off, hang it out and hope it'll dry in time for the next stage.


Fellow runners chatting with local kids in front of Kharikhola monastery.


The finish line "chute".





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