Everest Marathon….done! (and a confession!)

Jennie Edmondson

Well, what an epic day!  We trekked to Gorak Shep on Thursday arriving mid-afternoon before the big day.   After watching the sunset over Everest (overwhelming!) we were all in bed by 2030, and it was great to be in a lodge rather than under canvas, albeit still in our sleeping bags and very cold!

Our day started at 0445 and having slept (or not slept!) in our race gear, we were down for our porridge soon after!  After a double serving for energy, we all began to head out in to the cold to ‘number off’ before the start.  At 0630 we were off and the 20 Nepalese runners sprinted across the open sandy plain (that was the last I saw of them!) before the path led off across the rocky moraine which ensured the rest of us merely walked and scrambled. With a start over 5km above sea level, it was hard to breathe, let alone run!

With checkpoints (with drinks & ‘frusli’ bars) nearly every 3 miles, it was great way to keep track of time and have something to look forward to.  The run was very challenging under foot and for the first two hours (and at various places throughout) there was a fair bit of ice to watch out for.  The field soon spread out and I settled in to a slow jog/ walk as I kept my eyes open for the landmarks I had noted on the way up.

At Pangboche
At Pangboche

Before I go on, I do have a confession.  I didn’t actually confess to the full extent of my ‘cut knee’ when I fell on the fun run in Kathmandu.  With a mile to go to the finish, when I fell, I actually split open my knee.  Having sat on the path for 10 minutes before the next runner came along, and an hour before the back-up bus showed up, I thought I had lost all hope of getting to the start of this race.  However, after some discussion about stitching me up on the track, it was decided to get me back to the hotel, where I was laid out on a table in the ‘One Eyed Bar’ (all a bit M*A*S*H). With an audience of medical staff, my expert stitcher, Baz, swilled it out with Dettol (emotional!) before commencing with 4 internal stitches and a further 16 over the top!    Thankfully, due to the outstanding medical support we have here from our own doctors, it was not necessary to go to hospital.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Jennie together again.
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Jennie together again.

So, the two weeks leading up to yesterdays run have been pretty painful and the trekking has been an extra challenge!  I invested in a pair of trekking poles and would not have been able to walk without them!  The support and encouragement from all the runners and staff has been outstanding.  Nearly everyone has had battles to fight on this adventure, from D&V to aches and sprains, coughs and colds: the medical staff have been phenomenal in their tireless compassion!  Anyway, I had my stitches out in front of a packed house in Pheriche (12 days after the fall) which left me feeling a bit vulnerable, but happy that it had healed.

3 days later, yesterday, I was running and only broke out the poles for the massive descent/ascent just after the half way point.  With the help of regular painkillers, I can happily say that I enjoyed the run!  It was much slower that I would have liked, but bearing in mind that two weeks ago, I did not think I would complete the trek, let alone the race, I was very happy with my 8 hour 20 minute time.

Jennie at the finish
Jennie at the finish

Back in Namche now, we hardly look like a bunch of finely tuned athletes: everyone is hobbling and coughing and spluttering!!  A new course record was set by the winner (a Nepali) at 3 hours 47mins – wow!   The first foreign male came home in 5hrs 55mins and my awesome room/tent buddy Amanda was the second girl home in 6 hrs 10mins – what a legend!  After various ailments & falls during the race, only two failed to finish.  The final competitor limped in just under 12 hours after the start!

We leave for a 6 hour trek back to Lukla tomorrow at 0800, in the hope of catching the first flights out on Monday morning.  What an adventure this has been, but I am so looking forward to getting home and seeing my girls (and I guess it would be nice to see Sam too – as long as the ironing is done!)