New race just announced… you heard it here first, organised by my Nepali mountain running buddies! 50, 70 and 100 km trail races through fantastic forest trails with stunning views of the Annapurna range. An unforgettable start to the year!
It started with a cricketer. On October 31st 1995 Sir Ian Botham, world-renowned cricketer, started this new 100k race. Twelve local runners proved that a run from Pokhara to Poon Hill and back was possible in less than 12 hours. The route normally would take an average trekker 5 days. The winner took 11 hours 55 minutes and 55 seconds.
Since then, due to a decade of conflict, only a couple more races have been run. Now the race is back on track and becoming an established annual event with a successful 100km race in 2009 and a 71 km trail race in 2010.
2011 will be the best race ever, with a new 75% trail course on delightful paths with stupendous views. There are three ultra-distances to choose from, 50k, 70k and a none-too-easy 100 km over some very hilly terrain.
Such is the challenge of this race that it is now a qualification race for India’s ‘The High’.
While in January the nights can be pretty chilly, the skies are typically clear which means warm days and fantastic mountain views. The route-map is not completed but have a look at this map for the recce of the 70km route. Check the website soon for an updated route.
The course heads out of Pokhara (820 m) and soon any trace of the urban world is left behind. While slowly climbing on wide trails the views from the Dhampus ridge are spectacular.
On popular trekking trails we continue to PitamDeurali (2100 m), through Landruk (1565 m) and the Modi river (1350), then up the long steep climb to Ghandruk (1940 m). The 50 km turns South here for the descent to its finish at Birethanti (1025 m).
The 70 and 100 km continue from Ghandruk up to Tadapani (2630 m) on a beautiful forest trail. Then comes a welcome descent to the Bhurungdi khola (2400 m) before heading steeply up to Deurali (3210 m).This ridge leading to Ghorepani is delicious running with absolutely fabulous views of Annapurnas and the Manaslu range to the east and the Dhaulagiri range to the West.
From Ghorepani (2860 m) you head for home. For the 70 km, home is Birethanti, joining the 50 km finishers, after another 1835 m of descent.
The 100 km runners continue to complete the circuit to Pokhara via Kavre which is reached after a last 700 m climb, the long Naudanda ridge from where most will see the night lights of Pokhara, and a final stretch along the town’s beautiful lake.
Feeding stations are frequent and run by local villages and many will be out to watch and cheer you. Children might tell you you’re last or going slow – but they’re just joking. Watch out for buffaloes and goats on the trail or people carrying huge bundles of firewood or fodder. Go around pray flag poles to the left and keep a small handkerchief with you to dry your sweat in case someone gives you a red tikka mark on your forehead.
Registration for the race is on Friday 31st 2010 and payment will be taken then. The race starts at 6.00am on Saturday 1stclose to the airport in Pokhara. There will be lots of travellers and citizens of Kathmandu in Pokhara to bring in the New Year. It will be fun but take it easy! More details including locations will be available on the website shortly.
The entry is a flat 100 Euro for all races. This is a race-only event, and you manage your travel and accommodation according to your own preferences.
Pokhara lies at 827m altitude. The highest point in the race is 3210m, which for many visitors is noticeable but completely manageable.
Getting to Pokhara
It’s easy. From Kathmandu you can come to Pokhara on public bus, micro-bus, tourist bus, private vehicle or even fly. It takes less than 6 hours and $US 5 with the slowest method up to around $US 70 to flight one-way.
There will be prize money for the talented top finishers, however for the local finishers only as this race is much about supporting local running talent in their running careers. Full details will be given soon on the website.
Make a vacation of it: what else to do in Nepal?
This race is just one day, albeit a long one. What to do with the rest of your time in Nepal? The weather is dry, the skies clear and daytime temperatures are around 17C (63F).With a few days, a week or more, there is much to do.
Trek: Annapurna base-camp is a close by and an amazing 6-7 day trek.
More Trail Running: You could fly up to Jomoson in Mustang, and run to holy Muktinath and back. There are many other trails with lodges meaning you can travel light. Those experienced at altitude could run the famed Annapurna circuit.
Adventure Sports: Mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, bungy jumping (world’s 3rd largest), paragliding.
Culture: Kathmandu valley offers the globe’s highest density of UNESCO World heritage sites, Kathmandu and Patan Durbar squares, Pashupathinath, Bouddha and on it goes – try it as a culture run! Route can be found here.
Nature: It’s all around you but Chitwan offers an immensity of wildlife and jungle fun. Spiritual: Meditation retreats and fantastic & low cost massages come to mind.
Reaching Kathmandu is easier than ever. It’s connected via hubs in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangkok and the Gulf. Needless to say, the earlier you book the better.
Finding a place to meet your budget is never a problem in Nepal and you can sleep well from $US 5 to $US 100. Similarly in Pokhara and Kathmandu there is a range of international cuisine to suit every palette.
Contact Details and Useful Websites
For all enquiries big and small, contact:
Roger Henke, c/o Summit Hotel, P O Box 1406, Kopundol Heights, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: +977 1 5521810 / 5524694. Fax: +977 1 5523737. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org