Race preview: Manaslu Mountain Trail race - November 10th-23rd 2012, Nepal
Nepal is an upcoming destination for multi-stage trail running events, and with good reason. Beyond the amazing, varied scenery, there are two things that make Nepal a little different to many other mountainous countries.
One is the extensive network of awesome trails, a mix of larger trading routes between villages, the higher linking routes between valleys, and the criss-crossing shortcuts that seem to go everywhere and sometimes nowhere. Some of these are well-worn trekking trails; others are just there for exploring. Trails remain the major transport infrastructure to this day and the most used method of transport is still two feet. Perfect for the trail runner.
The other is the fact that you can run for days and (almost) always find a place to sleep and eat – villages are everywhere, and most have some kind of hotel or other, although the only stars will be the ones you see from the roof at night rather than on a signboard outside. With only a few clothes, a map and a sliver of soap needed, this transmogrifies a trail runner into a fast-packer, or even a multi-stage racer.
And lo, taking advantage of all of this, this November, there’ll be the first edition of a multi-stage race around Manaslu, the world’s 8th highest peak - some 220km over seven running stages.
Out of all of Nepal, this area has been chosen as for many reasons. The scenery is fabulous, the trails are very runnable, there are many old, important monasteries in these Buddhist Valleys (and the race will overnight at some of them) and the number of other tourists in the area is pretty low by the standards of Nepal’s traditionally popular trekking areas. There’s a visit to the border with Tibet, an encounter with a glacier and a basecamp, and a pass crossing of 5,135m - and a lot of running. It’s running as travelling perhaps, combining a passion for running with a cultural Himalayan trek of a lifetime.
But running at altitude, you ask? There’s always a bottleneck with running and this time it’s not the legs – at this height you discover how much your lungs really can pump. Most of the running is below 4,000m (13,000ft), which sounds high, but once acclimatised, is doable. The only way to really know how this feels of course is to try it once.
Learn more at manaslutrailrace.org