Manaslu madness: part 1/2

Posted on November 6, 2012


Day 0/4

This was my third race with Action Asia. Last November, in the Langtang region of Nepal and then in May this year in Lijiang, China. Anyone who has followed my adventures for a while, will know that these events give whole new meaning to the very word adventure … and this one, I’m stoked to say, was no different.

We all met up in Kathmandu. I was delighted to see old friends and as always, to make new ones. As ever, an awesome bunch of runners with great stories to share. Within half an hour of meeting my lovely roomie (pictured) Wendy, an ex HK-er now residing in Barcelona, we were discussing doing next years Andalusian trail … a stunning 250k’er that’s been on my bucket list for a while.

But back to AA. We had a fairly smooth journey down to Ghorka where the race would commence, especially considering the journeys to my last two races here in Nepal have involved cancelled flights, lost luggage, landslides, avalanches, monsoon rains, leeches galore, travels on the back of a truck filled with chickens and Maoist road blocks. I kid you not!

We settled into our various guesthouses, all refreshingly simple yet clean and totally functional. I say refreshingly because places like this are a wonderful antidote to the bright lights and bling nights of the desert I call home. Next up was race registration and this is where the fun began. You know you’re in for a treat when three key points conveyed in the race briefing were these:

1. “The red ribbons aka course markings have all been stolen so look out for red paint, except that disappears in the sun, so unless you are VERY careful and stop at every single possible junction, you WILL get lost. This course is a maze.”

Excellent, I thought. Tori gets lost in every race even when the markings are second to none.

2. “There are lots of VERY wild animals out there. Angry bulls with horns. They WILL attack you. Be wary, pass them calmly and don’t upset them.”

Two words. ‘Oh’ and ‘s***’.

3. “At the 35k-ish mark, you will climb a brutal 2km long very steep staircase. I repeat, it is brutal.”

When race director, mad Mike Maddess, says this, you know it’ll be brutal with a large B. He himself is a phenomenal mountain goat.

And with that we finished up, had a delicious candlelit (thanks to a blackout) dinner, of dhal bhat, Nepal’s staple dish of rice and lentils, and then readied ourselves for the morning. Wendy is now fast asleep and I, as per, am too excited to think about it. It might be a long night!

Day 1/4

I slept so well. We all did. I think when staying high up in the mountains with all that crisp ‘alpine’ air and when away from our day-to-day lives where everything is controlled by the touch of a button or the twist of a dial, our bodies welcome the lack of distraction with open arms. Forget social engagements, looming deadlines, training commitments and day-to-day responsibilities … instead all that is asked of us is chilling, sleeping, eating and running.

Our crack of dawn alarms weren’t even needed thanks to waking to the call of a large cock. Before you think ‘what an explosive start’, I should probably point out that said cock was of the poultry variety, outside in the coup. Sorry!

The run was nothing short of spectacular. Think 360-degree views of the towering snow-capped peaks of Manaslu and others, giant steep ascents, long and windy descents, gorgeous little villages with ramshackle huts and blue tinned roofs, little kids laughing and chasing us, the big ones, cheering and supporting us.

I enjoyed most of it. It really was stunning although I did have a few moments when my body was yelling at me. Since the Sabah Ultra mid September, I’ve spent far too little time training and far too much, wining, dining and then some. If anything then, this race so far has made for a marvellous, albeit vigorous, wake up call!

I finished second female although just seconds behind me were two other super fast chicks. In first place was the legendary Kami Semick. Kami has run some of the world’s toughest races with the world’s top ultra runners. Another league altogether.

I now type this on the terrace of our guest house, catching the last of the days rays and chatting with fellow runners.

Ps. Note to a special someone. LOVED my playlist. Thank you! X

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