FAQs – Answers from 2016 participants
We get a lot of questions from enquiring and aspiring Manaslu runners and the answers can vary greatly from person to person. So we asked our 2016 cohort of runners for their input. Their answers are slighted edited for clarity, but the sentiment is the same.
OVERALL: How was your experience – the highs and lows – with the Manaslu Trail Race?
“It was a tough and challenging race!”
“It’s a fantastic race, can’t wait to try something similar – maybe Mustang next year (although I haven’t broken the news of that plan to my boyfriend yet so don’t tell!). I can’t think of any real lows in terms of the race experience and organisation, only “lows” in terms of some parts of the race were really hard that you had to harness all your reserves of energy to get through, the type of lows that you would expect to experience in a long hard mountain race when you are struggling a bit and wondering if you are going to make it round. The group meals before and after the race in Kathmandu were a great idea. I loved the hotel Manaslu in Kathmandu. I will definitely be staying there again.”
“It unlike any other race I’ve done. In a way, it was a spiritual experience: the vastness of the landscape, time spent alone, the physical challenge, the Buddhist – Hindu culture combined in a way that was very special. The race embodied everything I love about mountain running. There was only really one low and it was my own fault: I didn’t wear warm enough clothes early on the Larkya La stage and suffered for a few hours. Luckily Richard had a spare down jacket so adding that (fifth) layer resolved my discomfort.”
“I loved every minute. It was the experience of a lifetime.”
“Amazing ! One of the best things I’ve ever done. Nepal is beautiful and so are the people we stayed with. I’m not going to lie, it’s not a walk in the park but worth every second. It’s highs – the mountain peaks, the sunrise, the group of amazing, supportive people, the experienced team organising it, the knowledgeable doctor and monk to be, and the feeling of achievement as each day you finish another stage. The organisation is professional enough to feel you are looked after but laid back enough to make you feel relaxed and not as though it’s all about the money but the experience. The lows: the never ending climbs (worth it when you reach the top), the cold…oh so cold as we got higher, and the sickness although luckily I personally did not suffer but had sympathy for those that did. If anyone is in any doubt or is in two minds about this event – do it !!! Just don’t think about it, you won’t regret it!”
“Just incredible. Highs were the cultural aspects and being immersed in the incredible mountain scenery. We met, interacted with and entertained the local people, with old ladies laughing as we ran by, people stopping work in their fields to shout encouragement and school kids running out of class to cheer us on. Visiting the monasteries was also a highlight. Running along the river, through forests, and across the plateau to Pung Gyen monastery. Lows were probably having to walk 20km over Larkya La having been puking all of the night before! But I was so well looked after, and it was still a day of the most beautiful, wild scenery.”
TRAINING : Please comment on your training regime for the race? How did you modify your training for a single vs. multi-stage race? Any tips for what worked, didn’t work, things you should have done in hindsight?
“My training wasn’t ideal as I got injured so I did a fair amount of training in the pool, on the bike, and in the gym. I kind of think that half the battle is just getting to the start line fit and healthy. I did long back to back runs on weekends earlier in the summer in preparation for Monte Rosa and in the lead up to the race when my injuries allowed it – 3 or 4 hours on Saturday, same again on Sunday with plenty of climbing. I also managed to put in at least one other hill run during the week after work.”
“I had intended to do more mountain running prior to the event but it didn’t work out. I DNFed both Lavaredo and the CCC. Technical descending is a particular weakness that needed more work. On the other hand I had a good endurance base, with four other ultras completed in the proceeding 9 months. I didn’t modify my training (for this stage race). In hindsight, I needed to improve my downhill technique for Manaslu. I’m a stomper, which means that my legs were fried on these long descents. I’m working on that now. For the race, I was very happy (running in my) New Balance Vazee’s.”
“I definitely did not do enough training, but I went into the race injured, which wasn’t necessarily a great idea. Training of distances and particularly on lots of hills would have been important. The altitude is hard to train for but an altitude training mask was very useful (e.g. https://altitude02trainingmask.com/) and I would highly recommend one of these. While it’s a little embarrassing being seen on the streets in them I used it on an exercise bike in the privacy of my own home. I didn’t modify my training for single stage race events for this multi-stage race.”
“I started with crashing and burning with UTMR training camp which taught me I needed to get really strong legs! So I worked on that through the summer and tried to do as much hilly hard runs as possible, which isn’t easy in London! I did back-to-back long runs at weekends (e.g. 15k, 20k, 20k). My mileage wasn’t mega high as I don’t have time and I get injured, but towards the end I did a couple of 56/63 m weeks within 4 runs. I’id highly recommend UTMR training camp. After that everything will be a walk in the park! Everyone is different and what I’ve mentioned above may not work for others but that’s what I could fit into my lifestyle and to avoid injury. The back-to-back training runs gave me confidence and so did doing some tough hilly runs. Also, working on my core also really helped. We can always do more training looking back but we also have to remember that this is our hobby and to be enjoyed and we have to work within remits.”
“Strength training was the most important thing, so that your body could keep going day after day without breaking down. In the two months prior to the race, we did lots of backpacking. Hiking up and down mountains with a twenty kilo pack was awesome strength training. Three to four months in advance we’d been doing more running, which was more about time on our feet than speed. We’d take a backpack with food and water, and head out for 20 odd kilometres, stopping for food and photos, and walking up the hills. Also getting to altitude beforehand helped, but that’s not possible for everyone. To train for a multi-stage race, we tried to do 2-3 days of running in a row to get used to recovering overnight.”
ALTITUDE: How was your experience with altitude during the Manaslu Race? Did you have prior experience with altitude? Did you take any medication for altitude sickness?
“I had prior experience with altitude. For the race, I suffered altitude sickness from 1st day onwards. It was challenging, but thanks to the doctor who made sure I was ok.”
“No problems out of the ordinary except very swollen hands after being at 5000m and one evening I was quite nauseous which admittedly could have been from any number of reasons and not just altitude. The cold was more of an issue for me than the altitude was. Prior to this race, up to 11,500ft (3500m) was the highest I’d been to run or walk. During the race, I only took a tablet one night to stop the nausea.”
“(The altitude was) no problem at all. Altitude played a part in my prior DNF at CCC so I was very worried about it. During the race, I took a prophylactic dose of Diamox after stage 3 in Samagaun and kept taking it until Bimtang. I had no issues at all with altitude and no side effects.”
“(My experience with altitude during the Manaslu Race was) hard, but the use of the mask in training helped a lot. I did the Mustang Trail Race in 2015 so I had prior experience with altitude. I did take medication for altitude sickness and it helped a lot.”
“(My experience with altitude during the Manaslu Race was) bizarre! It’s odd doing a flattish 5km run and struggling because you can’t get enough air in…the team dealt with it all in the right way though so I personally didn’t feel too bad with it. We acclimatised properly. If there was ever an inkling that altitude might be affecting us, we were given diamox (by the doctor) and on the day we went highest we did a slow trek. I think I took Diamox once and that was only for precautionary reasons. Prior to this race, I think the most I’ve been up to was about 3,800 m. Manaslu was certainly the highest I’ve been.”
“(I had) no problems at all. We headed to Nepal early and walked up to Annapurna Base Camp so were well acclimatised before the race started. That said, the race schedule allowed time to acclimatise too. I didn’t take any medication for altitude sickness during the race.”
FOOD & WATER: Do you have feedback on meals served during the race (breakfast, packed lunch, dinner, tea and snacks)? How much of your own did you consume?
“Food was awesome. I did not take any (of my own food).”
“All was good (apart from lukewarm soggy cabbage, I still have nightmares about lukewarm soggy cabbage). If I was to do the race again I might throw a couple pepperoni sausages or a bottle of Heinz ketchup into my packing (that goes with the mules) just to give dinner a bit of “oomph” as towards the end I found the carb options monotonous and felt I needed protein that wasn’t egg. I am not sure if that’s because I am used to the luxury of the variety of a western diet or if my appetite just decreased directly in proportion to the increase in fatigue and/or altitude. Overall the food was plentiful and adequate for the task so certainly no complaints there. The chocolate cereal with warm milk was awesome. The big fluffy pancake on the morning of the final stage was brilliant too and you can never go wrong with porridge. The tea houses all served coca cola which was a lifesaver. Some of the checkpoints had juice as well as water, which was a good idea. For food I brought: a couple of snack bars and snickers bars each day and one or two gels and some sweets. To be honest there was a decent amount in the packed lunch so I didn’t need that much of my own food. I did eat everything that I bought with me though over the course of the trip.”
“Under the circumstances in which (the food) was made, it was excellent. Very tasty and plenty of it.
For my own food: I might have had some stuff if I was waiting for the mules for a long time but this didn’t happen often. I thought (the food) was very well judged. Obviously hotter ethnic food might have been nicer, but maybe not compatible with racing in the mountains and sharing loos! As a suggestion, more protein in the form of dahl would have been good. I consumed very little of my own food: a few energy gels and some small salami sticks. The salami sticks were a huge treat.”
“There was plenty of food! It was yummy. My only comment is that I’d like have liked more local food in the evenings, but we were well looked after, fed very well for energy for the next days of running. There was often a chance to buy snacks (at the tea houses) to keep you going and to have something different. I loved the chapati and egg for breakfast. I was wondering before coming to the race, if coffee would be in short supply (I drink a lot!) because that was one of the questions when signing. There was more than enough! Afternoon tea (after the run and before dinner) was great too to keep us going till the evening. I didn’t consume as much of my own food as I expected. I took lots of gels but preferred to have the sweets and solid food we were given throughout the day. My general recommendations is to eat lots! You’ll need the energy.”
Do you have feedback on meals served during the race (breakfast, packed lunch, dinner, tea and snacks)? The food was good and varied, although the one thing I would say is that I would have preferred dhal baat for dinner on a few of the nights when the Nepali runners were served it, and we were served pasta or similar!
How much of your own did you consume? A Clif bar each day, because I love them.
Any general food recommendations? There’s plenty of food provided, both at the lodges and in the lunch/snack bags, but if you like a particular trail food (like Clif bars), then bring it from home. Your more “healthy, lower sugar trail/energy foods aren’t really available in Nepal.
RUNNING PACK: How much food and water did you carry during a stage race? What other items, e.g. clothing did you carry in your race pack?
“I packed 3 lbs water and packed lunch. I also carried a wind cheater.”
“I carried about a litre and a half (of liquid) and half of that was water and half electrolyte drink. I took some of the items in the packed lunch, especially the cheese, flapjack-type bars, and snickers bars. I took some sweeties too (jelly babies). For clothing in my race pack: it varied depending on the temperature and length of the stage. Usually a thermal top and leggings and a waterproof jacket. On the higher stages I took additional gloves and a down jacket. I used trekking poles for some of the stages. I carried my phone, a map, compass, whistle, torch, small first aid kit including foil blanket, water purification tablets, sunglasses, hat, food and drink. I also carried suncream, which I made sure to reapply when I got to checkpoints. Also, hand sanitiser and toilet roll. I also acquired a second down jacket courtesy of Richard, which was an absolute life saver.”
“I had two 750 ml bottles and iodine tablets. I brought too many gels with me and wound up giving a lot of them to other people. The first two days were hot. Then it got progressively cooler. I found that I got the hang of (packing appropriate clothing in my race pack) as the race went on – no point carrying more than is necessary.”
“I carried 2 litres (of water) every day and for me that was always enough when supplemented with drinks at the checkpoint. I also carried a light down jacket on the high altitude days.”
“I carried 2-3 litres of water, sweets, and a couple of bars. I seemed to accumulate some things I had there just in case but didn’t use such as a couple of flapjacks. Breakfast keeps you going a long time so I think I only really needed to have a gel or some sweets after an hour or so, maybe something more substantial like a bar for lunch and then another snack around another hour or so and before you know it you’ve finished the run for the day! For clothes that I carried: a fresh layer of clothes, when it was colder a hat, gloves, long sleeves, a light down jacket…you’ll need when you finish the day’s race and you’re waiting around for tea (and the mules to arrive with your other bag). I used the Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka pack. I think it’s 4 litre capacity and it was perfect, I think that’s generally the size most people used. Then other little bits like phone for camera, some wipes and loo roll just in case!”
“For food and water: a clif bar, the lunch/snack bag provided, and a 2 litre water bladder. I used a 15L pack and carried enough warm clothes that I could take off my damp sweaty stuff and not freeze while waiting for the mules at the end of each stage. A merino t-shirt and long sleeved top, my thin waterproof/windproof running jacket, merino long johns, woolly hat and gloves. As we climbed in altitude, I managed to squeeze my down jacket and waterproof/windproof over-trousers in there too. I carried more than a lot of people but was pleased to have it when we ran a long stage and had a long wait for the mules. I’d practiced running with the pack and was used to the weight.”
OTHER GEAR: Any comments on the gear you used or brought but didn’t use? Wished you had brought?
I brought walking sticks but didn’t use very much.
“I would have brought a second down jacket. I got really quite cold during the higher stages of the race.
A thermo flask or Nalgene bottle is essential. The new sleeping bag which goes to -20 that I bought for the race was my best buy ever! I should have packed more eye drops. I wear contacts and my eyes suffered a bit in the cold of the mountains and in the dust of Kathmandu. An extra battery for my camera would have been a good idea – I was terrified I wouldn’t have enough battery to last. Ear plugs were good too for getting a decent night’s sleep. Maybe some Vics vapour rub or similar would have been a good idea. I got a bit of a cold during the race and I’m sure it caused me to snore – apologies to my roommate!”
“I wish I had practiced using my GoPro prior to the race and had brought an image stabilizer. That said, everyone shared their photos.”
“I wore wool running shirts both short and long sleeves and these were great. They kept me warm when it was cool and were breathable when it was hot. Plus they didn’t stink so I could wear them day after day.”
“I bought poles in Kathmandu and didn’t use them. Some people did though. It’s totally personal. If you want to use them I’d suggest getting the lightest pair that you can fold up and I know a lot of really fast people were using them for the climbs up and then when you get running again you can just fold away. I also wish I’d invested in a thick down jacket. It gets super cold the higher up you go and I had three lighter down jackets but it wasn’t enough…one thick one would have been better.”
“My set of Black Diamond collapsable carbon walking poles were crucial! They made the climbs so much easier. You definitely need to practice with them so you can get into a good rhythm.”
ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD
“Striking a balance between “travelling light” [while running] and being warm enough at the end while you waited for your bag to arrive was a bit tricky and as I really suffer from the cold my bag was a bit on the heavy side. It’s definitely worth practicing running with a heavier bag just in case bad weather is in the forecast. Some people ran carrying very little, which is no doubt advantageous if you are trying to move at speed but at the same time it is easy to turn an ankle or similar during the race and get very cold while waiting on medical assistance.”
Manaslu Trail Race 2015 reviews / feedback
Stephan and Barbara Tassani-Prell
Hi Richard,We just arrived at home and we are missing you, Dhir and all the others from the organisation team, too!I think the distances of the stages are perfect, because of the high altitude. My favorite place was Sama with the impressive view to the summit of Manaslu and the finish at the Hinang gompa with the view to the Chuli Himal and the nice place there in front of the Monastary. I was very impressed by the trails. They are technical but not to hard and most runable and very different every day. For me it was really my best Trailrunning experience since more than 20 years of Trailrunning!The most difficulty for me and Barbara was crossing the Pass, because of the high altitude and the very early start, but we did it!The accommodations are very simple but most of them are very nice and the staff was great!People are so friendly in Nepal! This is not to compere with Europe!We want to come back soon! If you have more ideas, please tell me.Yours Stephan and Barbara
Tite Togni (YOGAXRUNNERS)
“Sister, take this blanket, drink a lot of tatopani (hot water) and just enjoy”. With these essential recommendations, Mira Rai who ran (and won) the race last year, left me at the onset of this 4th edition of Manaslu Mountain Trail Race 2015: 8 stages on the least beaten of all treks in Nepal, 10 times less than the close area of Annapurna.Manaslu, the ‘Mountain of Manas’, the Spirit, Man in its essence, that is not the body even if in its most athletic form, but the intelligence that lies deep inside, was the white cathedral we approached like pilgrims: barefoot, in tiptoes, with no clues of distance, elevation, profile but just following the course marks of the unique team of organisers Dhir, Richard, Lizzy & crew.Where else you can run, walk, hike, crawl for days ranging from Vertical and SkyRaces in tropical forest to freezing and frozen snow treks up to a Base Camp or through a Pass at 5160m and finally drop exhausted on a monk’s mattress?Where else you can receive a deeper lesson of humility when you think you are exhausted and you approached by the porters who are carrying on their backs two of your 10 kilo bags, flying up and down the same way in plastic sandals ?
Manaslu, the bare, fierce 8000m peak was always there to answer: you are not your body, your senses, your fears, your muscles, your lungs, but in essence you are like me, you are Man-as, Spirit, Energy in motion. Enjoy.
I’ve been thinking about this and you almost want two different perspectives. A relative newbie and a seasoned multi stager with altitude in the legs and lungs. I think the two types will say rather different things so any article could be split into these two types with some overlap. Anyway here’s a few words that may help (or not). I’ll be writing a blog on the event and then things I’d consider I’ll send that to you when it’s done.
1. The trails compared to those in West Australia could well have been on another planet. The amount of vertical ascent and the gradients seemed endless in the Himalaya compared to somewhere that has hills maybe reaching 400m on a good day. The shoes though faired better, the hard old granites of Australia trash shoes very quickly in comparison to the Himalayas. The trails are used as proper roads on the Manaslu circuit so were generally really good out of necessity and wide enough most of the time for mule/yak trains and runners (with the landslide sections the obvious exception)
2. Distances are irrelevant. The amount of time you’re on your feet is much more important and 25-30mins/km was not unusual at altitude (for me at least). Its slower than walking but the apparent effort is definitely not the same. Descending the moraine boulder fields were the biggest challenge for me around the Bimtang area having never encountered these massive moraines before my brain just couldn’t process the route down so that made it frustratingly slow, I’m also not used to running steps of which there were plenty in the first few days from Soti Khola to Lihi. The trails are technical, but with practice doable, if you live somewhere with similar terrain such as the Alps I can see it would be less of a mental and physical challenge and this was borne out by the resultant speed of the runners at the end of the day. Those of us without access to these kind of trails, while not overly technical but specific in skills, really suffered compared to our normal terrains.
3. The area is phenomenal. The mountains, glaciers, rivers- the sheer vastness of the landscape and the power of the natural forces acting in it are like nowhere I have ever been-it is breath taking where ever you look and constantly changing and challenging. In some ways I think we were lucky there were so few people on the trails this year and the isolation and distance from the rest of the world really hit home. This is a place of stark rugged beauty where incredibly tough and resilient people live and having travelled a fair amount I can think of nowhere else like it. It has certainly carved out a space inside me that’s for sure.
4. For me the greatest difficulty was getting over stage 1! Your guinea pig stage with stunning views of Ganesh Himal made me seriously doubt my suitability for the event. 2kms up and down in 21kms on ridiculously steep terrain made me think that if every day after that was similar I really wasn’t ready at all and should just go home there and then! In truth it was maybe day 4 before I got over this shock. While I was slow in the high terrain I enjoyed the high altitude days. I was surprised at how difficult I found some of the descents to be (again lack of familiarity with the terrain and a deep seated self-preservation need not to break an ankle miles away from anywhere). So my greatest difficulty was me and my perceived weaknesses. You are only ever at odds with yourself in an event like this and you find out if you really are strong enough. I certainly didn’t have confidence going in (a mistake) but feel a better about my abilities now its over.
5. Things I wouldn’t do without if planning on taking part. (i) Poles! On the steep sections they gave aching legs a real break and gave a focus to the rhythm of walking.
(ii) A damn good down jacket. I took two, one lighter weight and one heavy for evenings. Both were invaluable but I live somewhere hot and feel the cold
(iii) If you’re a protein lover recovery protein drinks are a low weight high value item. The diet is very carb-rich as it needs to be but the carnivores were obsessing about meat by the middle of the event. Nearly everyone lost between 2-4kgs, mostly just keeping warm so you need to be able to eat.
(iv) if you do live near mountains, or are planning on racing, time spent running the biggest mountains you can find at the highest altitudes you can find would be invaluable if that’s an option for you. I think without these you won’t be racing just taking part. (Not a problem for me as that was the plan)
(v) if you don’t like being in the dark the 4am walk across the pass could do with a really good head torch for the first hour and a half!(vi) wet wipes. Obviously hot water isn’t something you’ll encounter for a while and some days you can’t face glacial melt water the get a quick wash. Wet wipes gave the illusion of cleanliness!(vii) on advisement we took some greens powder with us. The diet is good but a bit of back up from a lightweight product full on nutrients you won’t be getting could just help you stay physically together that little bit longer
Nothing else stands out that isn’t already on your equipment list.
Hope this helps a little.
Thanks again-hope you’ve caught up on sleep and that things are improving in Kathmandu (but I guess they aren’t).
- How did you find the trails compared to where you run at home?
Obviously a lot more vertical, but not very technical.
- The distances seem relatively short, but how did they feel with altitude and the nature of the trail underfoot?
Distance is a very abstract concept in Nepal…
- What impressions did you have of the manaslu area? Along side the running, what did you enjoy?Impression: It is an area of many transitions. From jungle and hindu culture, it takes only a few days of passing through forest, steppe and finally high alpine, while the look of people, their clothes and architecture gradually changes into that of Tibet.
Enjoyed: The good company of runners and staff. Tibetan culture.
- What was the greatest difficulty you faced?
Personally it was being sick, but that’s bad advertisement, so let’s say…
- Any recommendations for others who might go next year?
Race, but also view it as a travel through amazing environments. Take your time to look up from the trail every noe and then. Stop. Be amazed.
- Feel free to make up a question and answer it yourself!
There has been a lot of news buzz after the earthquake. What’s your impression?
Many trails and some buildings were damaged. The locals have put in tremendous amounts of work, and by the time of the race, both trails and accommodation had been repaired to working condition. The decline in tourists was, however, noticeable. To local economy needs people who stay in the lodges, buying food and drinks!
Andrea Mondini – Italy
Ciao, with italian slow time but you get a feedback;-)! Thanks again to you and your staff for you amazing job, until you’re not in Nepal you cannot understand how hard it is to organize such races, but since I did and it all worked perfect, confratualtion again for the great effort!!So here my answers:1. Trails were actually perfect since they are the only way to move and used daily from the local populations they had nothing to be jelaous of our trails in the Alps!2. The great effort I think was a mixture between altitude but also getting used to different food habits and eventual associate health problems, no food, no fuel ;-)!! personally for me the acclimatation time worked perfeckt, just had a little headache coming down form Manaslu Base Camp and Tibetan border, felt great at Larke La3. I enjoyed every single step I made, even if painful, landscape was just stunning all around us, and was great to see how local peolple still live, and what I admired most is their happiness to live, always smiling even while carrying 30 or more kg on their backs, never complaining, just a lesson for life! and also in Kathmandu people are really poor but they are nice, never felt in trouble walking alone even in the darkness, much safe then in lots of our “civilized cities”4. I should say losing my bag…but actually it was part of the adventure. I think the greatest difficult is the envorinement in which you have to live, just cold water so hard to wash, not really clean rooms and beds, but as always when you are, let’s say, in trouble it helps to get closer with your adventure fellows and so did we, great international group with great mood and so everything looks nice or at least difficulties are soustainable or softer!5. No prejudice, just enjoy every minute and bring a positive attitude!
Our race doctor, Dr Bikash Basyal
Emergency contact with race
This information has been superseded by sending a message via our tracking device.
Should you need to contact a participant urgently, you can do so via Thuraya’s free sms service.
Please bear the following points in mind:
- We check the phone in the mornings (6am) and evenings (6pm) Nepal time and some locations may have poor reception, but at least once per day the phone will be checked.
- Keep messages down to 100 characters, even though it says 160. Send as many short messages as needed. Click “Send SMS” then hit the back button and type message again.
- You can also send messages from your own mobile with unlimited characters at your own cost. Long messages will be broken up in to multiple messages.
- Don’t use apostrophes as they don’t work.
- If you need a reply, include a mobile number. The service is far from perfect. The reply may or may not reach you, if necessary we’ll call, speaking very slowly and clearly in as few words as possible.
- We won’t reply unless completely necessary. We need to conserve the phone’s battery. Electricity supply is erratic at best in November as micro-hydro electricity plants get problems with ice.
- Note the primary number is +88216 21370195 and you use the last 8 digits in the website box at https://sms.thuraya.com/. The secondary number is +88216 21289545.
Micro spikes recommended – 2015 update
Microspikes. They’re not really designed for deep snow or slopes, but they help a lot.
As you will certainly know, in 2014 snowfall brought by Cyclone Hudhud gave rise to a disaster in the Annapurna region of Nepal. In 2013 a similar snowfall happened and blocked many high passes. Philippe Gatta, a French endurance athlete trying to run the Great Himalaya Trail called off his attempt (video) as many passes he’d still to attempt were blocked with snow.
This year less snow fell than 2013 but still a considerable amount in a short space of time. The Larkya pass is not a dangerous one. It has negligible avalanche risk and no real dangerous sections. It’s a steady up and a steady down. Everybody passed last year without incident, but there was plenty of slipping going on, not least for the mules carrying the baggage, and this is not pleasant. We had some none-slip studs for shoes which we handed out, but what was really effective were shoe chains or microspikes. They are absolutely perfect for this pass crossing.
This year we’ve sourced a batch of micro spikes from a local supplier for those that don’t have already so you can cross the pass with limited slip.
For those trekking, if you need to buy, then you can find in Snowland Trekking which is in a small alley under Potala Hotel, close to OR2K restaurant in Thamel for around Rs 1000 – 1500 (USD 10-15) depending on the type. Absolutely worth it. Necessary for your own safety and others. Snowland is a manufacture of other trekking equipment like jackets, sleeping bags etc.
Race doctors speak: Dr Suvash Dawadi & Dr Beth McElroy
In green, Dr Pranav. In blue, Seth Wolpin. This short tale is set at the stunning location of Hinang Monastery. Seth was getting a fast start to be ahead getting on to the narrow trail through the forest. The start happened in the monastery grounds – such a beautiful place – and everybody was super excited. He followed leader Phudorjee Lamasherpa sprinting away through the monastery gate. The gates are built so that the locals – on average of shorter height – have to bend to get through them. Seth is nearly 180cm/5’10” tall, and was wearing a peaked cap. In the rush of the starting pack, he hit his head on the frame of the door, hard, at running pace. Wow.
It’s at time’s like this that you’re glad you’ve an excellent doctor and $400 first aid kit with you. Seth was stitched up within the hour and after the wooziness had settled down, walked on to complete the day. And he was very brave, and didn’t cry at all. Swore like crazy as the stitches went in, but no tears.
This year we have two doctors. Dr Pranav last year was on his toes most of the time treating minor matters and checking on wellbeing. He suggested two people might be better.
This year we have Dr Beth McElroy and Dr Suvash Dawadi with us. You can call him DAWA he says. Dr Beth McElroy has enormous experience of expedition medicine, and Dr Suvash is still studying, one day training to be a GP in a remote place in Nepal in order to help his country. He’s very excited to come along and learn as much as he can from the experience.
We met last week to check through the first aid rucksack and I asked him a few questions written out below.
- Where are you from? Where do you work, and what is your specialisation?
I am Suvash Dawadi, from the terai (plains) of Nepal. My friends call me DAWA. I work in Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital and currently am training to be a General Practitioner. I also have successfully completed the Diploma in Mountain Medicine and a one day Basic Life Support/ Advance Cardiac Life Support training here in Nepal.
- Why are you looking forward to the Manaslu Trail Race this year?
I have a great interest in trekking and travelling in the Himalayas. I plan on pursuing an expedition medicine fellowship later on in my career. The Manaslu region itself is one that I have dreamed about visiting ever since my late father told me about his travels to the base camp and over the Larkya La.He told me the culture and nature both are unparalleled. I am looking forward to being part of this race and am very happy to put what I have learnt in the Diploma in Mountain Medicine to good use.
- For you as medical experts, what is going to be the biggest challenge?
There are plenty of challenges regarding the practice of medicine in a remote environment, let alone a race. The sheer number of people to take care of, the wilderness environment, the altitude and the multitude of problems that can arise within a limited resource setting are some challenges. Keeping up with the race so that medical assistance is as early as possible is another challenge. Also dealing with participants and teams from various walks of life, and various countries and culture will be a welcome challenge.
- What advice do you have for participants to keep healthy and strong?
I think the biggest advice to the participants is simply to train properly before the race! During the race do not hesitate to point out even trivial symptoms rather than persisting despite them. Any problem if caught early is always easily manageable. Keep hydrated and nourished. And please avoid the use of medications without informing the medical team – this just keeps everything in order. Keep a very basic first aid kit, for small cuts, blisters, water purification and any medications you might be using regularly.
- Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
Most important, enjoy the race!
Dr Beth McElroy is the second part of the team. She answers the same questions below!
1. Where are you from? Where do you work, and what is your specialisation?
My name is Beth McElroy I am a UK based Doctor currently working in
the Emergency Department in Cumbria. Part of my role is within the
Mountain Rescue Team where I continue to gain experience in
pre-hospital and emergency care. I completed my Diploma in Mountain
Medicine in Nepal in Spring 2014. This year I have worked as medic on
the London to Paris bike ride, on an expedition to the Calakmul
Jungle, Mexico and on a sucessful summit fo Mount Kilimanjaro.
2. Why are you looking forward to the Manaslu Trail Race this year?
The Manaslu circuit is a beautiful part of Nepal and a road less
trodden by tourists. To be able to work in this environment is indeed
spectacular and to be able to support the elite-athletes involved is
3. For you as medical experts, what is going to be the biggest challenge?
As a Doctor trained in high altitude medicine I am prepared to deal
with a lot of altitude and cold related problems. Exertion at altitude
makes people particularly susceptible to altitude sickness and may
affect many people’s races if they are not adequately acclimatised.
Given the terrain I am also expecting to manage a number of
musculo-skeletal problems particularly with knees and ankles. Trips
and falls are therefore a worry but with the good medical kit we are
well equipt to deal with these problems in the remote setting of the
4. What advice do you have for participants to keep healthy and strong?
Hydration and nutrition is essential for a good race. Being dehydrated
can ruin an event for a participant so it is important to drink, drink
and drink. It is crucial to let the medical team know at the first
incidence of any diarrhoea and vomiting or signs of altitude sickness:
Headache, nausea, shortness of breath, tingling fingers or
Participants can help themselves by changing out of their wet clothes
and keeping warm at the end of each day, drinking as much as they can,
being sensible with footwear, clothing and eye protection throughout
the race. Essential items inculde personal medications, knee and ankle
supports of the appropriate size, supply of pain killers, plasters,
medicated talcum powder, rehydration sachets and Diamox
5. Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
For those choosing to use Diamox – the tablet which helps with
acclimatisation without masking symtpoms of altitude sickness there is
an information sheet which can address your questions. Diamox information sheet 2014
Any questions you might have, please post below!
Manaslu 2014, arrival details
1. Welcome to Nepal
We will meet you at the airport and pick you up and take you to the hotel. You must fill this form in – Flight Arrival Time form – so that the transport company has accurate information.
If for some reason you are coming earlier and you don’t need an airport pick up please let us know.
Arrival at airport, pickup location
When you arrive at the airport
This is the location of Manaslu Hotel relative to the airport. The route taken won’t be this but Google doesn’t know the backstreets as well as the driver.
Here is the location of the hotel in more detail. It’s near to the Radisson.
On Saturday night we’ll go for a group dinner at Nepali Chulo. It is close by and we’ll walk via backstreets:
Pre-race interview: Holly and Martin Rush
If someone decides to come back to this race, all the way from UK back to Nepal, and bring their other half, then perhaps that’s a good sign that this race has something special. From an organisers’ point of view, the 2012 first edition felt like a very steep learning curve indeed – about as steep as the hill on day 3. It did not always go smoothly – as first editions often don’t – but despite that Holly enjoyed herself immensely and is bringing husband Martin which is great.
To introduce them a little…
Holly has shifted from marathon to trail, and recently just won the Ultravasen 90 km trail race in Sweden in 7hrs 9mins. In 2013 (after coming to the Mustang Trail Race with us) she hit the Comrades 90k up hill – 7th position in 7hrs. She’s an expert massage therapist and expert dog lover too. You can read Holly on her WordPress blog.
Martin is in charge of Coaching and Competition development for endurance running in Great Britain. He manages a team of coaches who organise and deliver coach education workshops, conferences and provide technical advice and mentoring to make British endurance coaching the best it can be. He also advises on competition planning and selection policies for GB and England teams. Ask him about the Olympics too when you meet him.
So if you always wanted to make the British Team in running, now’s your chance!
OK, so a few questions and answers from Holly (two times in Nepal), with Martin’s (zero times in Nepal). She’s got a few tips for those who are wondering how the running is going to be. Looking forward to meet you again in the Hotel Manaslu in November Holly.
- You’ve been to Manaslu before in 2012. How was the experience? Holly: Totally mind blowing. My first experience of Nepal and trail racing so it was a bit of a baptism of fire really. The mountains were super hard but beautiful, the other competitors became life long friends. It really didnt feel like a race more like a challenge to get to the end in one piece. I returned home a converted trail runner!Martin: Lived every moment of it with the return of my wife Holly from the race who was happy to say it was life changing. I am still doing my own sock washing…
- What did you learn at that race what you’d share with competitors for this race?Holly: throw all expectations of times out the window. A mile at home could take 7 mins….. at altitude in the mountains it can take you 30 mins to run/walk 1 mile. Practice descending on technical trails…. there are lots, even steps and Indiana Jones type bridges. Pack light, you really don’t need much but make sure the kit you have works…. practice with it before the event. My pack rubbed really badly and basically fell apart. Best bit of kit was my super warm duvet jacket, expensive but worth every penny. When the sun goes behind the mountain late afernoon, the temperature plummets. [NB: Killian Jornet on descending here…]Martin: Don’t expect to be the same person you were when you return. Do expect to travel back out to Nepal on a regular basis.
- What would you say to people concerned about altitude?Holly: Don’t panic about the altitude. The course is designed so that you gradually climb through the week but some days we go high then drop down a little to sleep, this helps the body adjust. Also listen to your body, if you are struggling simply slow down. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and eat well. Altitude can suppress appetite and dehydrate you so even if you don’t feel hungry get some food in you as soon as possible. I think the least you worry about it the less likely you are to experience problems, just enjoy the experience.Martin: I can answer this one without having been, although I haven’t been to anything higher than 3600m. Listen to your body and stay within your capacities. The gradual ascent over the days and pattern of the race with sleeps lower than gains will help and the initial reaction to the jump to altitude will fade over 2 to 3 days.
- And with 2 months left, what other tips would you give to competitors so they can prepare themselves?Holly: As I say practice descending but also practice climbing. You need strong legs especially quads. Core work is essential also as you will be out for long time everyday carrying a pack so you need to be strong. Get your kit sorted soon so you can do some trial runs. Check your camera works…..there will be lots of opportunities to take amazing photos.Martin: Build up over the next 7 weeks and then an easier period for the last week before you travel. Get fit, arrive fresh. It’s an endurance event so the key to training in my mind is get used to enduring – lots of long stuff over mountainous terrain, if you can. Keep healthy and don’t get injured so back off if anything hurts!
- Why are you coming again to Nepal and Manaslu?
Holly: I am coming back for several reasons, firstly, I love Nepal…even the madness of Kathmandu so any opportunity to come back I will take it. Secondly, ever since my first trip to Nepal (this will be my third time) I havn’t stopped going on about it to my husband. So this time I am bringing him with me to see what all the fuss is about. I just hope he falls in love with it like I did!!?Martin: The adventure and because Holly hasn’t stopped going on about how amazing it is!
- How are you planning to run this year’s race?Holly: For me this time I will be walk/running the race with my husband. He isn’t able to run much due to a long standing injury (he is an ex-athlete and therefore perpetually injured!) and as we want to experience the race together we will take our time. I am sure I will be chomping at the bit to run off but at least this time I can hang out at some of the villages and drink tea with the locals on route. Either way I can’t wait to come back to beautiful Manaslu.
Martin: Very, very, very slowly and probably with a limp as I have a bad calf muscle.
2014 entry list so far
A good number of participants this year, though sadly some had to drop out at the last minute due to injury and personal / family reasons.
Looking forward to welcoming all of the participants this weekend.
We also welcome Lizzy Hawker who’s going to be gently hiking around and assisting with start finishes and course marking, under doctors orders to take it easy, editing her book.
|8||Martha Kristine Syvertsen|
|9||Jose Jorge Garcia Fidalgo|
|10||Roberto Gonz‡lez Garc’a|
|100||Dr. Beth McElroy|
|101||Dr. Suvash Dawadi|
Fundraising on the Manaslu Trail race
On the 2013 race, Karen Carrington, an American resident of Shanghai competed to raise money for children to have necessary surgery that they could not otherwise afford, through the charity Heart 2 Heart. Congratulations to Karen for all her hard work in raising this money to make such a difference to these children, and their families’ lives.
Great news for the new year! The first of the children you helped me sponsor from the funds raised from the Shangri-la Challenge and the Manaslu Trail Race have arrived at the hospital. They are two Tibetan boys (Wang Dui Ci Ren & Luo Sang Ci Ren) who are just wonderful – full of life, smiles, and mischief. Their information sheets are attached.
Both boys arrived in pretty good shape so they were able to have surgery yesterday. I visited them this afternoon and they are already well on the road to recovery. They are already smiling, which I probably wouldn’t be! They’ll probably be dancing with the others (we brought in 7 Tibetan children for surgery at the same time) by tomorrow since that seems to be one of their favourite activities.
It’s a wonderful thing you’ve all done through these sponsorships. I wish you could all meet them. I know that just looking at them made all those endless kilometers worthwhile. Thanks again for helping to make both of their surgeries possible. They are great boys and now I’m sure they’ll be able to grow up to be wonderful men.
I’ll let you know about the remaining 1+ children we’ve sponsored once they arrive at the hospital. That will probably be after Chinese New Year, however, since travel gets a bit difficult from now until mid-February.
Happy New Year! You’ve certainly made mine happy.
– Karen Carrington
2013: Anna Frost and Lizzy Hawker return to Nepal
Perhaps the best thing about multi-stage races are the great people you meet. People from diverse countries, backgrounds, with diverse careers, and there’s a lot of time to get to know each other. In the out of the way places we visit, nobody is particularly busy, and there are few distractions, just time in the mountains with an optional amount of time with other people. Pure downtime!
From a running perspective, it’s also great to have talented, professional runners among us.
Anna says: “The format sounds perfect. A small team…and big days in the massive mountains. Sounds like a dream. I am so excited.” Anna has visited Nepal once before and ran the Everest Marathon.
Last year Lizzy Hawker came to the race and finished second overall behind the very strong Upendra Sunuwar.
This year is different. Lizzy suffered stress fractures in both feet earlier this year, and then, after an intense burst of training to try to gain enough fitness for the UTMB after a long period of rest, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the femur.
Lizzy is now resting and Manaslu will provide the first gentle steps back to fitness for 2014. See caption below – the back runners will be delighted to know they will have distinguished company.
For all us mortals, it will be great to have two very experienced and talented runners amongst us. But don’t forget, for Lizzy and Anna too – and for all participants – this is a great chance to meet people from all over the world and hear stories, gain new perspectives, and hopefully, to broaden horizons and make new friendships. Sounds a cliché but that’s how it turned out in 2012!
About Anna Frost:
• 4th Ice Trail Tarentaise – France
• 6th Mont Blanc Marathon – France
• 1st Colorado Trail – La Reunion
• 2nd= Moonlight Marathon – NZ
• 3rd El Cruce – Argentina – Chile
• 2nd Sky Running World Series
• 2nd Ultra Cavalls del Vent – Pyrenees, France
• 1st Speed Goat 50km – Utah, USA
• 1st Maxi-Race 88km – Annecy, France
• 1st TransVulcania Ultra Trail 50mile – La Palma (new record 8.10hrs)
• 1st Moonlight Marathon – Queenstown, NZ
• Queenstown to Dunedin Run: 5days, 285km, 40hours
• Taranaki Speed Records: Ascent/Descent: 2.10hr RTM: 7.41hr
• 1st TNF50mile Championship – San Francisco 2010 and 2011 (new record 6.54hr)
• 2nd Kinabalu Climbathon – Malaysia 2010 and 2011
• 1st Table Mountain Challenge – South Africa (new record)
• 1st TransRockies 6day Mixed Team with Rickey Gates – USA
• 1st 4Trails Stage race – 4 countries, 4 days
• 1st Six Foot Track Marathon Blue Mountains – Australia
• 3rd Hermannslauf Trail – Germany
• 1st Signes Double Marathon Trail – France
• 1st Yorkshire Three Peaks – UK 2010
• 1st TransRockies Run3 – Colorado 2010
• 1st Commonwealth Uphill Mountain Running Championships Keswick 2009
• 1st Everest Marathon (new record holder by 27-minutes) – Nepal 2009
• World Sky Running Series – 2nd 2010, 2011
• World Long Course Mountain Running Championships – 3rd 2009 & 2010
• World Mountain Running Grand Prix Series – 1st 2008, 3rd 2010
• World Mountain Running Championships – 10th 2009, 18th 2010