Manaslu madness: part 2/2

Posted on November 7, 2012


Click here for Part 1 of my Manaslu adventures.

Day 2/4

0330 and the alarm rang … a painful start to the day. Far too early and my legs felt stiff as bricks but once we got going, they started to loosen up. I expected the day to be tough … 43k with mammoth ascents, very technical trails and a strict cut off time … but I had no idea just what was in store for me. In short, I got lost three times, had a fall involving a lost footing and resulted in doing the splits over a steep ridge, had an intimate encounter with some dense jungle leaving me to battle through thick bush to emerge back on track and finally, I had some GI issues to deal with. All this within the first couple of hours! Needless to say, my second female position dropped to fourth pretty quickly.

It turned out to be a pretty magical day though. The sun was shining, the skies bright blue, the route absolutely breathtaking and the residents of all the villages we ran through were out cheering, laughing, smiling and clapping. After my various setbacks, I had two choices: continue on with a bad mindset, cursing myself for being in Tori-world and not paying close enough attention to the markings, trail and my nutrition or to get over it and just soldier on and enjoy the moment. Embrace the day and deal with my hand of cards. I chose the latter and ended up having quite an ab fab day. The icing on the cake was meeting another runner, Nic Tinworth his name, who turned out to be a complete rock star and saved my day. He kept my spirits high and my mind positive for hours as we discussed everything from our favourite books, our growing up in HK, our hopes and dreams, plans and scams, loves lost and loves found.  We finished together, 7 1/2 hours after starting and collapsed on the sun filled lawn.

I think my biggest take-away from today was this. With trail running, especially in beautiful places such as Nepal, there is no correlation between your race performance and your level of enjoyment. In lots of other areas of our lives, we often equate how good we are at something with how much we enjoy doing it. Not so with trail running.

In fact, when not at the front of the pack and having to push yourself every moment, you can more easily enjoy the community around you, the culture, the views, the people … and of course the camaraderie with your fellow competitors so I would go so far as to say that if I could do today over, I wouldn’t change a single thing. A new pair of legs for the final stretch tomorrow would be nice though!

Day 3/4

A leisurely 7am start and a sweet 20k. My kinda day! As we all arrived at the race start, I had to laugh. Everyone, including me, was walking like John Wayne sans horse, all feeling quite broken after the distance and elevation gain past. ‘I just want to finish’ and ‘I’m just going to plod along as best I can,‘ were the words on everyone’s lips.

But then the race commenced and it was like a field of frisky racehorses being let loose from their gates, long-time prisoners being released from their shackles. We all seemed to give it our all, any pain and niggles suddenly a distant memory.

This, I suppose, is the perfect illustration of the power of the mind … even when your body feels totally broken, your mind will take you as far as you want to go.

The route was again, breathtaking, the mighty Manaslu never out of sight. We crossed a long ridge with the most magnificent views followed by running through an enchanting forest. Fluffy clouds lay far beneath us and the first rays of sun were starting to shine. Once I got going, I felt wonderful. Strong, powerful and invincible. Complete and utter flow. I aimed for a two-hour finish but smashed it in 1.45. Third girl in.

Days like this leave an imprint on your heart, an unquenchable lust for life and an irreversible smile.

Fun in the sun, cool beers and some much-needed fuel followed and then the long drive back to Kathmandu. An awards dinner awaits us with, I expect, a few cheeky vinos and lots of giggles with the crew.

Day 4/4

I now type this from KTM airport in need of some serious TLC … the consequences of a rather wild final soiree causing far more pain that the run itself.

We talked over breakfast this morning about why trail running events like these have such a wonderful atmosphere. Various answers were put forward but one in particular was that we do these events, not to get from A to B in the shortest time possible but to enjoy every moment of the journey … to experience new places, people, cultures and communities and at the same time, to forge new friendships and learn more about ourselves.

This event proved all that and then some. In fact, all Action Asia events do so I look forward already to the next.

Over and out.


Posted in: uncategorised