Set against one of the most iconic and awe-inspiring backdrops on the planet, the Everest Trail Race is one of the world’s toughest high-altitude ultra-marathons.
Winding through the remote Solukhumbu region of the Himalayas in Nepal, the Everest Trail Race (ETR) is an annual multi-stage footrace, with a brutal range in altitude of more than 25,000 meters.
Along hard trails of frozen earth, crunching through crisp snow and running over different types of rock, red, green and grey in colour, prepare to cover a gruelling 160km over six days.
Divided into stages of roughly 22, 28, 30, 31, 20 and 22 km respectively, the daily difference in altitude goes from a heart-pounding 3,000 meters up to 5,950. En route expect breath-taking views of not only one, but several of the world’s tallest mountains, Everest, Lothse, AmaDablam, Tamseku, Kangtega, Makalu and Kanchenjunga.
Snacks, meals and water are provided by the organisation, both along the route and in the camps at the end of each stage, but the race does require a degree of self-sufficiency. You must carry all the personal technical equipment you will need to survive – a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, warm clothes plus the mandatory safety equipment laid out in the race rules. Taking into account the weight of the material in relation to the temperatures that may occur during the day (up to 18°C) and (max -10°C) at night, is just all part of the challenge.
In fact, the race is a test for both runners and the race organisation as the area is only accessible by foot. Local Nepalese men and women, from the Sherpa, Rais, Tamang and other Tibeto-Burman speaking ethnic groups will be your daily Solukhumbu audience, as well as making up the staff of race officials, medical staff, timekeepers and logistics personnel.
"You reach the highest point of the day and you are breathing hard, short shallow breaths. You think you must stop, that you can’t go on, but then you settle into a sustainable rhythm. Your body is adapting to the workload, to the altitude and with that realisation you feel a rush of empowerment that motivates you to run right past the foot of Everest."
Ideal for runners who wish to push the limit of their own physical and mental ability.
The ETR is suitable for elite athletes, mountain walkers, trail runners and those in good health. Which is not to say that with some dedicated alpine training, you too couldn’t become as nimble as a mountain goat…
Started in 2011 by Spanish extreme ultra-runner, Jordi Abad, the Everest Train Race is staged at the beginning of the dry season when the air is clean after the monsoon, the visibility is impeccable and the surroundings of this unique environment are simply at their finest.
You can register your interest for this race here.
Read Lynden Kemp's review for 2013 and James Eacott's for 2014.
Read In the footsteps of Hillary by Ian Corless here about the ETR.