13 November 2017


The view as we completed the final climb to the finish line of stage 5, Everest ad Lhotse.

The fifth stage had us running from Phakding to another monastery and probably the most scenic backdrop to any finish line in Tengboche, where Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam framed the view. We had to cover 20km or 12 miles while ascending 2,224m or 7,300ft and descending 1,022m or 3,300ft.

Just looking at the distance and overall vertical gain and loss, this stage seems "easy" on paper when compare to the other stages and indeed, it was the fastest out of all days for me. However, it wasn't easy. All of the vertical gain was spread over just 2 climbs, the first one 4 miles into the stage and the second and final stinger, an 1,800ft climb over less than 2 miles to the finish line.

Ama Dablam in all its glory.

Running a shorter stage meant pushing just a bit harder over the entire duration of the stage. I was also trying to catch Michele Petrone, a fellow competitor from Italy, who had put quite a bit of distance between him and myself over the first 3 stages and had been sitting in second place in the masters division. I had made up 15 minutes of the gap between us on stage 4, but I needed to keep pushing on the remaining 2 stages, if I wanted to make a serious attempt at catching him. I also wanted to make sure I didn't get passed for 3rd place overall in the masters division. 

Everest and Lhotse kissed by the sun.

I had been taking pictures and enjoying the amazing landscape the previous 4 stages and now I added a bit of a competitive spirit to this journey. I knew we would finish this stage at the most amazing location in Tengboche before returning to Lukla on the final stage, so one could call this the beginning of the final stretch of the Everest Trail Race.

The prettiest location I have ever been to.

I ended up running solo for most of the day, catching a glimpse of other runners here and there in the distance, either ahead or behind me. The number of trekkers, tourists and porters as well as mule and yak trains continued to increase tenfold when compared to the early stages. It is definitely part of this amazing landscape, but it added an additional challenge to the race, namely trying to pass these "obstacles" without falling off the mountain or losing too much time over fellow competitors.

Everest and Lhotse.

My energy levels stayed consistent, I made sure to drink most of my fluids and took in most of the nutrition provided at checkpoints. I didn't push too hard too early, so I felt pretty good all day. I continued to stop to take pictures along the way, views of the Himalayas around every corner. It never got old. 

Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam.

I finally started to find a rhythm, running most flats at a relaxed pace and downhills and a fast pace while trying to keep a steady fastish hiking pace on every uphill. As a result, I managed to keep my heart rate in check and was able to push the final climb to Tengboche to finish about 9 min ahead of the eventual female overall winner Chhechee Sherpa Rai after running with her for a while prior to starting the final climb.

When I crossed the finish line, I was in awe of the views all around me. I couldn't put my phone down, I just kept snapping pictures. This was also the moment when I kinda started to try to wrap my head around this adventure. With Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam right in front of me, I felt like a pretty lucky guy. I mean, I get to do this stuff, how awesome is that! 

River in the Khumbu Valley as seen from a hanging bridge.

As I sit here writing this report, I am still not quite able to process it all. I have this strange feeling of wanting to go back, yet not wanting to take away from this "once in a lifetime" experience. I'm not sure if this makes sense. Ultimately, I am certain that I will go back to Nepal. It is a place that stays with you, the vibrant culture and colors of this country, the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, the tranquility of the early stages and the unique trail traffic with a mix of tourists, locals and animals along the latter stages make this a one of a kind experience. Words just cannot describe it, which is why I kept taking pictures.

The original Hillary Bridge as seen from the new hanging bridge above.

The stairway to heaven was created in Nepal...many many times over:-)

This view will never get old.

Oh, your 10lbs pack weighs heavy on your back? Suck it up buttercup, it can always be worse;-) Nepali are the strongest people I've ever met.

Snow capped mountains always capture my imagination.

Spectacular views.

The famous Yak.

Namche bazaar, a major trade hub in the Himalayas.

"Road" leading through Namche.

The Hillary bridge(s) seen from below.

A Yak train. They are beautiful animals.


Prayer flags are a beautiful part of the Nepali landscape. 

One of my favorite views, Namche bazaar as seen from above after passing through.

Path leading into Namche.

Crossing the new Hillary bridge.

Our lodge across Tengboche monastery.

Tengboche monastery.

ETR finish line in front of the grand Himalayas.

Yup, there is a bakery with tasty cakes and coffee,

How everything gets moved in these parts of Nepal.

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