14 November 2017


Everest and Lhotse, I hope to be back some day.

The final stage was definitely a downhill stage, but the distance of 30km or 18 miles still included 2,105m or 7,000ft ascent and 3,138m or 10,300ft of descent. We would run from Tengboche to Lukla, our final destination and hub to fly back to Kathmandu.

Ama Dablam in all its glory.

I decided to push hard. I still had a slight chance of moving into 8th overall and 2nd in the Master's division. There wasn't going to be another stage. In addition, we would trace back most of the previous stage 5 and some of stage 4 before turning towards Lukla, our final destination and finish line for the Everest Trail Race, so I decided the keep my "camera" (iPhone 7) holstered for this stage and focus on running only.

Some of my nutty new "family" just before the start of the final stage.

This stage started at pretty high altitude (12,500ft) and in the coldest temps, yet, at least I felt cold enough to actually use my CEP compression arm sleeves. We would immediately descent nearly 2,000ft from the start over just 1.5 miles. It was a hair raising descent to say the least as I was trying to stay upright while trying to hang on to the runners in front of me.

While I kept a couple of runners ahead in sight initially, that changed as the race progressed. My focus shifted towards running my own race pace while "dodging" porters, mules, yaks and trekkers, who continued to be extremely supportive, shouting encouraging words to us runners in any imaginable language. Foot and hoof traffic was the highest during this stage, but I had gotten used to it and figured out how to behave while passing the different obstacles to stay both safe and manage not to lose too much time in the process. 

The man that put this amazing adventure together, Jordi Abad.

At some point, the female overall lead Chhechee Sherpa Rai caught up to me, somewhere during the early stage of the 7 mile downhill descent that preceded the final 3 mile climb to the finish in Lukla. If I could stay with her on the descent, I figured I'd do pretty well. I had been climbing slightly better than her on a couple stages, so if I could repeat that today, I figured I would have a pretty good performance. I had no idea where any of my direct male competitors were on the course, so all I could do was to keep pushing and hope that I was reducing the gap between the runners ahead in the overall rankings.

Some happy finishers right there.

As expected, Chhechee set a strong pace. She runs extremely lightfooted and I just kept trying to follow in her "footsteps". I managed for the most part, only slipping and sliding around a couple of times. As we started the final climb, I decided to push past her. 
World champ and all around top notch guy Luis Alberto.

The finish line almost surprised me as I came up a steep climb and turned the corner at the entrance to Lukla. It was a glorious sight as I crossed the finish line. But I did immediately think how sad it was that this once in a lifetime adventure had come to an end. I spent the next couple of hours taking it all in, sitting in the sun, enjoying a cold Everest beer, taking pictures in the village and cheering on my new family members as they all crossed the finish line. I will never forget the friends I made during this journey and I will be forever thankful to the entire race organization around Jordi Abad and his amazing crew of 160+ volunteers and Sherpas, whom made this event a flawlessly run adventure that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It is impossible to write down in words what this event means to me.

The finish line as seen from Lukla.

Friends and colleagues have asked me questions like "so what is next for you?" and "how do you top this?". The answer is easy, I am already planning amazing adventures for the next year as I continue to look for challenging mountain adventures, but nothing will ever top the experience that is the Everest Trail Race. NAMASTE

Animal personification of "the twins", Gareth and Kieran:-) 

One last yak train crossing the finish line of the ETR.


View from our lodge in Lukla.

Amazing views in every direction where the norm at the ETR.

The hustle & bustle of Lukla.

Lukla airport, National Geographic's "Most dangerous Airport".

Yup, found the Irish pub in Lukla.

1 comment:

  1. How awesome that must have been. I have visited that area twice and would like to one day run 🏃 this race. Namaste 🙏



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