Here are some questions which are frequently asked. If you have further questions, please mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you ASAP and also add it here. Please note the additional Q&A here.
- What will an average day on the race be like?
- Where do we sleep?
- How long do I have to complete each stage?
- How much stuff do I have to carry while running?
- I want to run for a charity of my choice? Can I do that?
- What kind of training should I do?
- What food will be available?
- Will there be medical facilities available?
- What about altitude? Do I need to prepare somehow?
- What is the terrain and trails like?
- How much money do I need to carry?
- What about running at altitude? What is it like?
- What temperatures can we expect?
- Do I need a visa for Nepal and how do I get it?
- Can I bring things not mentioned on the kit list?
- How much of my things will be carried by porters from stage to stage?
- Does this event give points for the UTMB?
1/ What will an average day on the race be like?
It depends on the length of the day in question. Normally we’ll get up at 6 to 6.30 – it’s the best time of the day! We’ll pack our bags for the mules, eat a light breakfast (maybe eggs, chapati, pancake, porridge, tea/coffee etc), collect a packed lunch (fruit, nuts, bread, cheese, muesli bar etc), and prepare for the start. Then we run to the finish, passing a checkpoint on the way! Simple!
For short stages, the start time might be later for you to explore the area a little. Where and when you eat your packed lunch is up to you. You’re welcome to stop along the way or wait until the finish, or pack it in your duffel bag and carry your own gels / snacks. At the finish you’re encouraged to explore the local surroundings, greet incoming runners, wash and change, drink endless cups of tea, play cards or maybe read a book or sleep. Around 4:30/5pm we’ll have official ‘tea & biscuits’ in the dining room or the tea-house, and somewhere between 7pm to 7:30pm we’ll have dinner. After dinner the race director will explain the coming day’s route, important information and highlights. From experience, you’ll probably be ready for sleep around 8:30pm or earlier.
2/ Where do we sleep?
We sleep in tea-houses, the local hotels for trekkers. This area is not yet so well developed for tourism (improving rapidly though) and bed capacity can be low in places. Generally speaking you will sleep in a simple room, probably with bare walls and floor, on a wooden bed with a reasonably comfortable mattress. Blankets are also available if needed. This is enough for you to get good rest and recovery.
4/ How much stuff do I have to carry while running?
Short answer: enough to be safe in the mountains. While the routes are well used, and it would difficult to lose the way, it can quickly get very cold if you are only wearing sweaty running gear. In your backpack you should have – depending on the day – an emergency bivy bag, provision for water (water purification tablets), a small first aid kit and some food & enough warm clothing for at the finish until the mules or porters arrive with your bag. The point is to be safe, but to keep it fun, and running with a heavy pack is less fun than with a light one.
6/ What kind of training should I do?
Not everyone has time to do masses of training. We’d recommend a few things though. Firstly, where possible, add some hills (or stairs) to your training programme, or even hill hiking with a heavy pack. Making sure you do downhill running once per week, and a long downhill once per month will strengthen your quads. Secondly, try to run often. A short run five days per week is often better than a long run a couple of times per week. Do some core fitness exercises – this will help with stability on rough trails. Try running with a full pack a few times too to ensure it fits well and is comfortable while running. Finally, standing on one leg with your eyes closed (60 seconds) is really excellent for strengthening ankles. We recommend using poles, so practice with these if you are not used to them.
7/ What food will be available?
We’ll be serving traditional trekking food such as dal bhat (the Nepali national dish of rice, dal and vegetables), along with regional food. Dinner starts with soup, then a main meal, then a small desert, usually fruit. Everything is cooked from scratch, generally on wood stoves. We’ll serve portions big enough to match your calorific needs. You don’t need to bring any foodstuffs with you at all, unless you specifically need gels / powders etc. If you have special dietary requirements or allergies, please let us know in advance, and we’ll work around that.
8/ Will there be medical facilities available?
We’ll have a qualified doctor with high altitude medicine training hiking behind you with a comprehensive first aid kit. We carry an extremely comprehensive medical kit with the team. We ask all participants to fill in a comprehensive medical form. In the case of emergency, a helicopter evacuation can be arranged if necessary, which is why all participants need travel insurance. There are international standard medical facilities in Kathmandu.
9/ What about altitude? Do I need to prepare somehow?
There is no easy prior preparation for altitude possible. Altitude tents are expensive, disrupt your sleep and you may well lose any benefit by the time you reach altitude at the end of Stage 3 to Hinang Gompa.
We’ve planned the itinerary so that the elevations reach during the day, and slept at allow you to acclimatise adequately to safely cross the pass at 5,160m (and run everywhere else). We’ll brief you before and during the race, if you have not been to significant altitude before, about the symptoms of altitude sickness, treatment, hydration etc. You can read about diamox here too.
In general, most of your training should be long, zone 2, aerobic training. Adding some short hill sprints at high heart rate will help, as at high elevations it is easy to hit maximum heart rate on moderate inclines.
10/ What is the terrain and trails like?
They are in effect local highways along which everything is carried. You’ll enjoy running them but it is hard work. It is the Himalayas after all. You can expect everything, from stone steps, to rocky trail where local road building is going ahead. There is a lot of undulation on stages 1-3 as the trail crosses various streams flowing into the main river. The hike crossing of the Larkye La will be a rougher trail and we might encounter snow there – though working mules and yaks will be crossing the pass at this time until end of November. Best read feedback from others to assess this. Whatever you think of the trails, once you’ve completed the race, you’ll see that you are sharing them with school children, families, traders carrying large loads, monks, farmers, teachers and so on.
11/ How much money do I need to carry?
There is not really much to buy along the way. Beer (US$6) or Coca Cola (US$3), should you choose to buy it, will be the most expensive thing you can find as it is carried in on mules or porters. US$10 per day will be much more than adequate for most people. We provide enough calories every day. If you want to buy additional extra meals in the afternoon from tea-houses you can.
“Do I need to bring energy bars, gels, powders etc?” This is completely up to you, but you will not be able to buy many snackable ‘energy’ foods along the trails. There will be biscuits available in small shops. There are good value muesli bars available in Kathmandu, as well as the usual chocolate items, but quality will be better from your home country.
12/ What about running at altitude? What is it like?
This is a challenging one as it affects different people in different ways to different degrees. Normally the affects kick in at around 3,000m from where you should ascend about 300m per day with a rest day every 1000m – this is the guideline used that ensures the average person will acclimatise well and avoid issues. Acclimatisation has little to do with physical ability. We believe our schedule is well designed and safe, as we spend four nights from 3,500 to 3,800m (and running is ok under 4,000m in our experience, harder, but not desperate as you might think) and our pass crossing is a fast up-and-over. It means we should avoid too many headaches and cross the pass easily.
Whether this is ‘enjoyable’ for everyone is another matter! It is always more difficult panting for breath, but it is like saying running up hill is less enjoyable than running on the flat because it requires more effort. There is always a bottleneck to running speed and in this case it is oxygen. This route is much less taxing in terms of altitude than the Everest area treks and races where you’ll sleep for two nights at 4,900m and 5,100m – that’s high and uncomfortable!
If you live at sea-level, it makes little difference. Probably all race participants will live way below 2,000m and thus start unacclimatised. You’re going to feel much fitter on your return to sea-level too.
13/ What temperatures can we expect?
It will be cold at Samagaun and Samdo at night, but with sleeping bags and the lodges’ blankets, plus a bit of nice thermal underwear on, and perhaps a warm hat, you’ll be waking up at 11pm nice and warm. It helps that the air is dry which reduces the air’s ability to take heat away. When the sun is up, it’s really nice – shorts-weather even – and if a cloud comes, just put some trousers on! All in all, easily survivable! Plan for -10C to -15C for your sleeping bag. See the equipment list and feedback. Generally it is worth having two down jackets. A smaller one to run with, for the finish, until your duffel arrives later. And a larger one for evenings. Thin down trousers can be bought for US$30-40 and these make evenings very comfortable.
14/ Do I need a visa for Nepal and how do I get it?
This is pretty simple for pretty much all nationalities. You can just get a visa upon arrival at the airport by filling out this online form, printing it and presenting it in the airport. Visa fees are $25/15 days, $40/30 days and $100/90 days and have to be paid in a convertible currency but it’s usually cheapest in USD. You will also need a digital passport photo to upload for the pre-filled form. When travelling it is always good to have a few passport photos, a photocopy of your passport and a pen.
15/ Can I bring things not mentioned on the kit list?
Yes. The required items are needed for safety – you’re in the mountains after all. But you can bring other things that are not mentioned such as trekking / running poles and other gear, but aim to keep your pack under 10kg. This is a fairly hard rule and experience has shown that people happily manage with 8kg. Mules carry our bags, and bags need to balance on both sides and be under a certain limit to make this method of transport feasible.
16/ How much of my things will be carried by porters from stage to stage?
In the morning you will pack your running bag with the things you need for the day. Other items (sleeping bag, books, other spare clothes etc.) can be put into a duffel bag that we will give to you (at the briefing) up to a maximum of 10kg.
If you think you will have more equipment with you for whatever reasons, please let us know in advance.
We will weigh your bag in the race hotel in Kathmandu until it reaches the target! We’ll make minor exceptions for your additional food / energy bars which will reduce daily.