The Himalayan 100 Mile Stage RaceUltra madman Mark Lyons takes on the Himalayan 100 Stage Race and finishes in the top ten!
The Himalayan 100 is a five day stage race crossing the North East Himalayan region near Darjeeling, it starts in Manybejung where the first stage follows 24 miles of trails across Sandakphu National Park climbing to the tiny Sherpa village of Sandakphu at 12,848 ft. The first stage has over 11,300 feet of altitude gain , just to break us in... gulp! The second stage was run over 20 miles on high level trails that give you vertigo just looking off the side, running from camp to Molle and back with spectacular views of Mt Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, and Makalu (four of the five highest peaks in the world). The third stage was where we joined the Everest Challenge ultra marathon, this is a separate race of over 30 miles, although the organisers try say it is only a marathon distance, dream on! It is open to other entrants and was out past Molle again, then down to Rimbik village (6350 ft) on trails. The fourth stage was a short but tough 13 miles through the jungle plantations following a river then a huge climb to finish and the fifth and last stage of 17 miles starts with a very runnable but long and steep climb of over 6 miles, then a fast 11 mile section to finish with breathtaking final views of Kanchenjunga mountain range before finishing back in the town of Manybejung.I was blown away by this race, it was everything I had hoped it would be and much, much more. I have been in the Himalayas many times yet this race showed me scenery different to what I had seen before, new wonderment at every turn, views that had me forgetting just how hard I was running, and you really did need distracting, the course was the steepest technical running I have ever done, far in excess of anything I have came across even in hill running, my calves screamed at me constantly on the ups, my quads on the downs, seriously extreme gradient at every turn and most of it ran at well over 10,000 feet... tough going for any runners legs and when we eventually dropped down from the mountains and hit the jungle sections the view changed from the vastness of the worlds highest mountains to the beauty of dense jungle and its slippery trails, the climbing didn't change though, it still managed to throw difficulties at us on every bend, seriously this race will make you rethink your own existence...There was a band of very good runners of all nationalities in the race from USA, UK, Spain, Argentina, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden,Brazil, Ireland, Czech, South Africa so although a small event with just a little over 50 runners it really felt much larger and the chat was amazing, in an extreme race like the Himalaya 100 there is a lot of camaraderie.Although there were many nationalaities represented it was pretty much a male domionated race, there were still a few very fit ladies from Czechoslovakia, Germany, UK and America competing though.The race was very well organised and we were fed an all you can eat banquet of healthy food every night, I lost 3-4 kilos in both the Marathon Des Sable and Gobi races, this time I put on a kilo. My highlights of the race would have to be the three days of high mountain trail running at 12,800 feet with the views of Everest, Makalu and Lhotse and when I had to fight it out for over six miles with Andy a fellow runner for fifth place on the final stage... my legs were shot and he was like a blood hound sitting on my back for miles but with only a mile to go I summoned something special up from within and pulled away to make the line ahead of him.My advice to anyone running this race is to do lots of hill work, loads of it and find the steepest nastiest hill you can find and do some more! Be prepared for some very cold starts at 12,800 feet in the mornings and take a camera! Take two cameras! The place is breathtakingly beautiful!! You will be moved...Loading...For more from ultra madman Mark Lyons, check out his blog: www.runner786.com