EVENTS

Re­views and pre­views in­clud­ing news of marathons at the North Pole, down from Ever­est and in Aus­tralia, and more.

Action Asia - - CONTENTS - Story by Cather­ine Law­son & pho­tog­ra­phy by David Bris­tow

CHAM­PION NEPALI SKYRUNNER BHIM Ba­hadur Gu­rung (shown op­po­site) has blitzed this year’s gru­elling Ten­z­ing Hil­lary Ever­est Marathon. Beat­ing pre-race favourite Su­man Ku­lung, Gu­rung won the 42km high al­ti­tude run from Ever­est Base Camp to Nam­che Bazaar in a time of 4:02:30. 37-year-old Gu­rung, run­ner-up in last year’s North Pole Marathon, crossed the fin­ish line just three min­utes and 40 sec­onds ahead of Ku­lung to se­cure his sec­ond Ever­est win since 2015, call­ing the world’s high­est marathon “a very dif­fi­cult run”. Tak­ing third place for the sec­ond year in a row, and clos­ing out a Nepali sweep of the podium, was vet­eran com­peti­tor Bed Ba­hadur Sunuwar who crossed 22 min­utes after Ku­lung. Sunuwar won the event in 2016. Seem­ingly i mper v ious to t he ex t reme al­ti­tude and rugged trail con­di­tions of Ever­est’s Solukhumbu re­gion, Nepali run­ners in fact took the first 17 spots in the Full Marathon, while com­pa­triot Thirtha Ta­mang, 31, im­pressed as the third-time win­ner of the event’s epic 60km Ul­tra divi­sion. Ta­mang crossed the line a full 45 min­utes ahead of his near­est com­peti­tor, fu­elled, he joked, by not hi ng more t ha n wa­ter a nd a Snick­ers bar dur­ing his al­most seven-hour run. It was an­other Nepali coup in the women’s divi­sion with Purn­ima Rai clock­ing 5:20:56 to take first place ahead of Nirkala Rai (5:27:32) and Padam Ku­mari Rai (5:52:21). Re­mark­ably, fourth place went to pint-sized 17-year-old Nepali Prena Senchury, com­plet­ing in her first marathon. While Nepali run­ners fin­ished strongly, marathon times for for­eign com­peti­tors were blown out by the steep ter­rain and thin moun­tain air, which at Ever­est Base Camp means a level of avail­able oxy­gen only 50% of that at sea level. The first for­eigner to cross the line in the Full Marathon was Aus­trian Manuel Seyr in 5:59:29, ahead of Bri­tain’s Jonathon Bamer (6:13:06) and Josh Blyleven from New Zealand, who was thrilled to com­plete his first marathon in 6:30:38. Also fin­ish­ing strong was New Zealand trekking guide Melissa Mcart­ney, the third for­eign er over the line in the fe­male Full Marathon, clock­ing a solid time of 8:22:07

behi nd f i rst place-get ter Amer­i­can Holly Zim­mer­mann (7:39:22) and Aus­trian Ma­rina Scheiber (7:45:11). In the Half Marathon (21km), it was rac­ers from around Asia-pacif ic t hat dom­i­nated, with 27-year-old New Zealan­der Jay­den Klinac eas­ily tak­ing first place in just 2:59:35 – in a pair of sec­ond-hand run­ning shoes no less – call­ing it “good fun”. Twenty min­utes be­hind the Kiwi came Korean vet­eran Dong Wook Kwon (3:19:45), with In­dian Dipesh Sab­har­wal (3:37:32) in third place. In the women’s Half Marathon it was New Zealand sis­ters Emily and Anna Ruy­grok, aged 25 and 27, who crossed the line first and sec­ond, clock­ing times of 3:41:17 and 3:42:46 re­spec­tively, fol­lowed by In­dian Reshma Hegde in third place. Cel­e­brat­ing its 16 th year, this year’ s Ten­z­ing Hil­lary Ever­est Marathon at­tracted 177 com­peti­tors from around the globe, who en­dured ex­tremely cold and windy con­di­tions at 5,380 me­tres on their de­par­ture from Ever­est Base Camp and a day that de­te­ri­o­rated into a com­plete white­out by early af­ter­noon. In­ter­na­tional com­peti­tors came from across the Asia-pa­cific: from China (7), Korea (5), In­dia (8), Aus­tralia (12) and a sin­gle com­peti­tor each from Sin­ga­pore, Thailand, Viet­nam, Pak­istan and Ja­pan. A 12-strong team of New Zealan­ders put in ef­forts wor­thy of an event that cel­e­brates the first as­cent of Mt Ever­est by New Zealand climber Sir Edmund Hil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay, 65 years ago on May 29, 1953. For many ath­letes, just get­ting to the start­ing line is an achieve­ment be­cause to do so they must en­dure up to 10 days of trekking, the strug­gle to ac­cli­ma­tise, sleep­less nights, high-al­ti­tude headaches and more, all be­fore the race be­gins. Lau­rette Lub­bers – the strong­est in a team of nine Aus­tralians to com­pete – strug­gled with gas­tro and ham­string is­sues be­fore the race, but put in a gutsy solo run on the day to place ninth in the women’s 42km Full Marathon in 8:33:04. “On Ever­est you just don’t have enough oxy­gen, it’s so dif­fi­cult, so hard to run,” she ad­mit­ted, rat­ing it her tough­est run yet. “Com­ing out of base camp there was so much ice and so many peo­ple, but I know how much I love it at the end, so I just kept go­ing,” said Lub­bers. Aussie team mate Jo Ker shaw agreed, call­ing the Hi­malayan trail run, “the ul­ti­mate, no mat­ter how much it hurt”. Kershaw breezed across the line to fin­ish the women’s 42km Full Marathon in 10th place, cred­it­ing the in­cred­i­ble scenery with keep­ing her go­ing. “It’s a chal­lenge in it­self just get­ting to Ever­est Base Camp, and that was harder than the run back down,” she said af­ter­wards. For more news, or to sign up, see www.ever­est­marathon.com

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