OFF-ROAD IN NEPAL

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - T1 - BY ADAM ISFENDYAR

The Hi­malayan Rush is the only off-road triathlon in Nepal. It is set in the small pic­turesque lake­side town of Beg­nas, about 20 km from Nepal’s sec­ond largest city, Pokhara, a pop­u­lar rest­ing spot for trekkers head­ing for Mus­tang and the An­na­purna range. Beg­nas it­self sits at 800 m above sea level, with 8,000 m high peaks only 40 km away, so it’s a moun­tain set­ting with­out the need for ac­clima­ti­za­tion.

This year’s race was held on March 25. There was per­fect weather – a bright, clear day al­low­ing the full majesty of the snow-cov­ered Hi­malayas to pro­vide an in­spi­ra­tional back­drop for a chal­leng­ing race, which this year in­cluded a new cy­cling sec­tion. In pre­vi­ous years par­tic­i­pants have had to do loops of the same cir­cuit, but this year the stan­dard race had one 35 km loop around two lakes, end­ing up at the start point. Much of the cy­cling route, which par­tic­i­pants unan­i­mously agreed was the tough­est part of the course, was non-ex­is­tent only a few years ago and in many ar­eas is lit­tered with large rocks and stones. As Giles Dawney, 35, from Here­ford­shire, U.K. said, “you can’t be­lieve a bike can ride over that stuff.”

With steep in­clines and equally chal­leng­ing sharp de­scents, it is a real ad­ven­ture. The route reaches up to 1,141 m el­e­va­tion gain and takes the par­tic­i­pants into the heart of the lo­cal vil­lages, which helps the par­tic­i­pants and lo­cals alike to feel that they are all part of a com­mu­nity event.

The stan­dard triathlon is the main draw with 31 par­tic­i­pants this year. It starts with a 1.5 km out and back swim in Lake Beg­nas, fol­lowed by a 35 km off-road cy­cle and ends with a 10 km out-and-back run. There is also a sprint, which is half the length of the stan­dard, a three­p­er­son re­lay, a duathlon and a 5 km run, bring­ing the over­all num­ber of par­tic­i­pants to 117.

As well as ath­letes from Nepal, the 2017 race at­tracted par­tic­i­pants from Ja­pan, the U.S., the U.K., Bangladesh, Thai­land, In­dia, Mon­go­lia, Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia. The Nepali ath­letes of­ten fare well on their home ground and first to the fin­ish line this year was Basalt Tharu, who fin­ished in 2:51:42. The first woman past the post was Jo­ce­lyn Pow­el­son from Virginia, U.S., in 3:20:29.

The race is a pas­sion project started by Ma­neesh Shre­stra in 2012 and it has been grow­ing and im­prov­ing ev­ery year. He wants to pro­mote the race as a fun event and “a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the ter­rain and unique scenery that Nepal has to of­fer.”

Adam Isfendyar is a travel pho­tog­ra­pher from Lon­don, U.K.

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