Well here I am sat back home admittedly suffering from post Manaslu race blues ..what an awesome race it turned out to be with amazing people!! I wanted and expected a tough race and tough ..brutally tough is what I got by the bucket load.
The Race Itself was a 7 stage over 8 days mountain foot race along the Manaslu trekking trail ( Manaslu Mountain being the 8th highest in the world ). The distance stated was 212km running and about 30 km trekking required although the final distance ran was closer to 220+ km .. the race boasted High altitude ..taking us up to 5100 meters, most of the event being ran between 2700 meters and 4400 Meters and it didn’t disappoint there … on average there was at least 2-3000 meters of ascent & descent on each stage ..I ran my Garmin for the first two stages which recorded just under 10,000 meters of elevation gain & loss for both stages ..so you can imagine how tough the rest of the stages were as we climbed higher !!
The race was semi self supported, you were required to carry a safety first aid kit for the mountains, warm clothing in case you were out long after sun down or stuck on the trail or any length time before being rescued..plus food for the day which had to include 1200 calories in gels and bars plus a packed lunch supplied each day and 2 ltrs of water… you were also allowed to have a further bag carried by the porters to each stage .. weight 7kg ..so other essentials and sleeping back could be carried, but there was also no guarantee the porters would make it to the stage point, the temperatures dropped considerably after sun down ..so you had to be prepared in case of this ..so it was prudent to carry all your warm clothing in the end plus rations for the next day just in case !! I used an OMM 20ltr which proved great and generally weighed between 5-8 kg with all my gear.
At the end of every stage a traditional Nepali style meal would be supplied plus breakfast the next day, this I thought was a nice touch as it added to the keeping with the cultural aspect of the race ..also added to the challenge ..dealing with rural Nepal’s hygiene problems required a cast iron stomach.
The Race attracted a wide range of competitors experience wise .. from Legends in the endurance world, Lizzy Hawker ( 2nd Place )& Lisa Tamati … seasoned professional GB marathon runner Holly Rush ( 3rd place ) … as well as very experienced & Talented local mountain runner Upendra Sunuwar (1st place ) …and vastly experienced adventure racers, ultra mountain runners, multi day veterans, seasoned marathon runners & Iron man competitors ..mountain trekkers..right the way down to those with very little experience and there to challenge themselves…as this was the first time the race was run, no one really new what to expect difficulty wise.
In all Honesty I was going to write a day to day ..stage by stage account of the race, but in the end and after writing lots then reading what I’d written I felt my words nor pictures did the run justice. Plus also this way I get to leave the race with an air of mystery for those wanting to take part in the future. For Reference though The Manaslu Trekking Circuit alone if you research will show that its a tough endurance trek, with a recommend duration of 18-21 days to complete… you will be required to that and more in 8 days.
The Scenery will blow you away if you have never been to Nepal thats for sure…you will be humbled amongst the vast size of the mountains and valleys you will be running and the terrain will constantly be challenging and tough throughout every stage with no reprieve. The Altitude and shear ascents and descents will leave you breathless and your lungs and body aching for oxygen and Freezing Temperatures at night will keep you awake ..leaving you emotional and tired in the mornings.
Bottom line I believe only 17 people completed the full race course out of the 40 or so runners, 6 people had to be helicoptered out due to altitude related illness and exhaustion …so in my eyes as my first multi day ..this one ticked all my boxes, it was breath taking & stunning ..Brutal & challenging ..emotional & exhausting ..which is my perception of what multi day race should be all about. Unfortunately I have nothing yet to compare it to Race wise, but from other competitors that have ..they all put this race up there as one of the toughest … so if you are looking to test your self then this is definitely for you ..I will be running it again either next year or the year after that is for sure. My only tip is do not take it lightly, prepare well and prepare tough.
Before I sign off I will like to say a big thank you to the race organizers Richard Bull & Dhir for putting this amazing race together & to all the competitors I met and now have become friends with, everyone was amazing and the race brought together a camaraderie that I’ve never experienced before and will never forget .. I only hope my next Multi Day is half as good as this one 🙂