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Sunday, 1 April 2018

Stupa to Stupa Trail Race in Kathmandu run by The Mountain Company (Jo and Roland)

Photo: Jo and Roland at Swayambunath Stupa (Credit: Robert Mads Anderson)
It’s still dark as the taxi pulls up to Swayambhu Stupa on Saturday 24th March and only a few locals can be seen doing the Kora at the bottom.  As we climb to the top, I can feel my thighs begin to wake up and I wonder whether 54 km running around the Kathmandu Valley rim from one stupa (Swayambhu) to another (Boudhanath) is realistic or sensible idea.

The Mountain Company (Jo and Roland) takes on Stupa to Stupa!
When we met with the other runners- just under 90 of them -, the excitement grew and, whilst walking the Kora of the stupa before the race started, we began to really wake up. As dawn broke, we jogged down the steps and up the first hill (Jamacho) of the trail. Everyone slowed down on the biggest hill of the run and focused on the climb.

Photo: starting Stupa to Stupa (Credit: Robert Mads Anderson)

Photo: Jo on summit of Jamacho (Credit: Robert Mads Anderson)
After that the trail opened up and wound through the woodland and beautiful open trails with some gentle ups and downs for the next 54km. The views along the way to snow capped mountains, then, down over Kathmandu at others were breathtaking and made the pain of each step worth the effort. The trail weaving along jeep tracks, through villages and along ridges were was truly varied and beautiful.

I am not going to pretend that there weren’t other hills on the route, that I didn’t walk huge sections, that I didn’t stop and wonder what I was doing.  But we did complete the course (with some running and a large amount of walking included in the mix) and it was a huge and memorable experience.

Photo: Jo on the trail (Credit: Robert Mads Anderson)

Photo: Jo on the trail (Credit: Robert Mads Anderson)
The day after the run, we were fortunate to attend a talk by one of the Races volunteers Lizzy Hawker.  Lizzy has won the UTMB 5 times, has run the Great Himalaya Trail solo twice, and is a phenomenal athlete and professional trail runner.  She spoke to us about her incredible journey traversing the GHT and how she did it alone with so little equipment it makes me rethink what I will put in my own pack on my next expedition.

Photo: Jo at the finish (Credit: Robert Mads Anderson)

Photo: Boudha stupa (Credit: Robert Mads Anderson)

Photo: Boudha stupa (Credit: Robert Mads Anderson)
So, one week on and we are already planning to be back next year.  The date has already been set for Stupa to Stupa 2019 on March 16th and The Mountain Company plans on expanding it’s participation.  We are offering to pay the entry fee for any of our local guides who want to run and will buy them a pair of running shoes to make sure they have the right start.

If you would like to take part in next years race and want to start training take a look at the details here. We suggest taking a good few days to rest after the race before heading out on your trek!

Many, many thanks to all of the organisers and volunteers for their hard work with Stupa to Stupa 2018. The entire organisation for the race went super smoothly with a fun, friendly and supportive atmosphere. What a great day out and we are already looking forward to 2019!

And finally, if you would like support and sponsor male and female Nepali trail runners hoping to compete at the 2018 Trail World Championship held in Spain please take a look at Trail Running Nepal website. What a great cause and good luck to them all!

Jo Clark- Nepal Operations Manager

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