I woke up on Everest Base Camp at 4.30am on Sunday morning to the sound of people talking and moving around outside my tent. There was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air – today was race day – the day I had been working towards ever since booking the trip back in March last year!
We packed our shared luggage holdall ready for the porters to take back down to Namche Bazaar, where I would hopefully be reunited with it later in the day!
It was bitterly cold and there was a thin covering of snow on the ground as we headed out of our tent to join the rest of the group for breakfast. The nerves were making my stomach do somersaults and I wasn’t hungry at all, but I knew I was going to need all the energy I could get so I forced down a small bowl of porridge.
The marathon started at 7am, so following breakfast we headed to the start line wearing our down jackets (provided by the travel company) for warmth! Despite the freezing temperatures the sky looked promising for good weather and I hoped that the sun would soon be out to warm us up!
I joined two ladies from our group at the start line (Pam from the USA and Judy from England) as we planned to stick together during the race. I felt privileged to be joining them as they are part of a group called ‘the marathon grand slam club’ which consists of only 18 women world wide who have completed a marathon in every continent of the world!
At just after 7am we took our first running steps back towards Namche Bazaar. The first 5km section was across the Khumbu Glacier and was extremely challenging due to the conditions under foot. However we soon reached the well trodden Everest trail and I began to get into my stride. It was impossible for me to run the uphill sections of the course so I walked up these and then did my best to make up time by running the flat sections and some of the downhill sections – although many of these were precarious and too dangerous to run for fear of falling! Unfortunately, I lost Pam and Judy early on in the marathon as a herd of yaks came towards us and we became separated!
True to form, the race didn’t go by without drama! About 2 hours in I came across a group of Trekkers who were cheering me on. As I looked up to acknowledge them I tripped on a rock and took a dive head first to the floor. Luckily, I got up unscathed so I quickly regained my stride! I was thankful that I hadn’t fallen on one of the narrow tracks with a sheer drop (some of these being over 1000 ft) or it could have been a lot worse! Not long after this the strap on my backpack broke so I had to improvise by tying the two ends together!
Despite these hindrances I was determined to make it to the 20 mile mark before 4pm. Anyone that didn’t get there before this time had to stay overnight in Thyangboche and complete the marathon the next day as it would be too dangerous to carry on in the dark. Not only would this have been disappointing but it would have meant sleeping in my sweaty running gear as all my belongings were making their journey down to our lodge at the finishing point! So with this in mind I kept on going!
The next stage was a section called the Bibre Loop which just seemed to go on and on! As I set off on the loop I was pleased to see Ross and Ashley from my group just ahead of me and my room mate John coming back the other way after completing it! It was nice to see some familiar faces! The point where the loop curved back on itself marked the half way point which I reached in 4.5 hours and we were given a wrist band to say that we had completed it!
Soon after this, nature called, so I went into one of the tea houses that we had stayed in previously to use the toilet. On the way out I had a welcome pick me up of a bounty bar which was given to me by the owner!
I reached the 20 mile mark with over an hour to spare, however by this point I was totally exhausted! My back was aching from jarring it when I fell and my feet were sore from the harsh terrain! I was hanging on with every foot step and I still had the sting in the tale to negotiate – a 400m climb over just 2 miles! At this point I decided to walk as there was some very steep sections and my legs were like jelly! Every so often I’d have to give way to some yaks who were making their way down the very narrow track!
Then, all of a sudden, the end was in sight as I made the final descent via the village of Syangboche.
I crossed the finish line in 11 hours and 2 minutes! A mixture of relief and pride flooded over me and I felt very emotional! I had reached my own personal summit and I couldn’t have been more overjoyed! I was given a medal, certificate and a tracksuit before posing for the all important photographs!
I walked to the lodge where we were staying for the night and was greeted by cheers from the other members of the group who had finished the marathon! It was a lovely atmosphere with everyone congratulating each other and we shared our stories of the day’s events!
I managed to ring Helen and my Mum and Dad who were all so proud and so relieved that I had made it!
We were too exhausted for much in the way of celebrations and I went to bed without even having had a drop of alcohol! It had been an incredible day and one that will remain with me forever.
I had completed the world’s highest marathon!!!!!!!!