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.