I hadn’t pooped yet and I was starting to panic….
Setting off from the scout hut to the race start line without having completed all my morning rituals, in fact, I’d be super blase about it all and ended up having to run to catch up with the group leaving for the marathon! That was because I wasn’t really racing in Nepal, I was simply running the first half of a marathon then dashing off to the finish line to capture the first finishers of the full, half and 10K.
However, it was not ideal to be running 13.1 (or more!) miles without getting business done, especially when the other option is a squat loo at the police academy (I took loo roll with me incase a wild one was in order).
My plan was to run the first loop with Mark, who was completing the full 26.2 (his second marathon after running London in April) with no real time goal, other than to get him back to start the second loop before the time cut off of 4.5 hours.
Straight over the start line was a lovely downhill road section that lasted around 2KM, and kept our group of runners fairly close together. We ran up the road we’d been building earlier in the week and bumped into the aggressive goat (if you saw my stories during the trip, you would have seen it head butting various members of our group!). This was Humbling Hill according to Team Impact, and wow was it a challenging start!
As we made our way through the village, we ran past some of the other Impact Runners who were about to head off to the start line. Impact stagger their race starts to that people generally finish in close proximity, meaning there are more people there when the marathoner finish which makes for an awesome atmosphere, particularly amongst our group.
We then made a quick (unsuccessful) pitstop at basecamp camping ground, before getting back on course and heading into the National Park. Both the full and half marathons went through the Shivpuri National Park, and we later found out that many of the local kids signed up for the 13.1 distance because it would be their first time in the park!
The path here was undulating, with small up/down sections throughout, many of which we walked, conserving energy. There was a beautiful waterfall crossing, with the police on hand to help us over (actually, they didn’t do much to help us but they did take our photo after!).
After about 10K of wide paths, the trail became narrower and it felt like we were having to walk a lot more of it. We decided that we would have to just run as much as we could, single file, otherwise we’d be out there forever! Not long after we bumped into Megs, one of the Impact staff and race directors, who ran/walked about a mile of Savage Summit with us. For some reason I had totally forgotten about this incline but it was long and brutal, and actually my biggest incline of the day!
The views though made the terrain totally worth it. Every couple of minutes we would round a corner to be greeted by spectacular vistas across the valley.
Coming down was brilliant, although pretty technical in parts. I felt like I was hopping, skipping and jumping rather than running at times. We also managed to overtake two other runners…not that that is the point of Impact, but you know, I’m rather competitive!
Huge thanks to the medics from Exile Medics and the other volunteers for setting up aid stations around the course, handing out honey sandwiches, vaseline, water/hydration tablets and well wishes.
I said goodbye to Mark at the second loop start, roughly 3 hours and 15 minutes after we started, and made my way back to the finish line area a mile away. Unfortunately, because I had a bib on and was running through town, many thought I was the first female marathon finisher!! I tried to correct them with little success.
This was actually my first Impact Marathon finish line after DNFing in Malawi. Despite the fact I hadn’t completed one of the official races I was determined to have that finish line experience.
First unofficial 14 mile finisher though…
My fun wasn’t over though, with a finish line photographer role. I cheered in the winners of the marathon who had lapped us at Mile 12.5 and were worryingly close behind me, recognised the winner of the Half Marathon as my sixth form Geography Teacher (this world really is very small!) who was living with his family in Kathmandu.
This is the first time that the female marathon winner of the Nepal Impact Marathon has been a local Nepalese lady! She was amazing, as was the 11 year old that came third in the 10k!
Just when I thought I was safe to finally eat something, Mike came round the corner and into the finish zone. I stuffed the rest of my Clif bar in my mouth and sprinted across the pitch, catching him on the final 400m straight before dashing back to the finish line. Within the same sentence he told me that he wasn’t running again for at least 6 months, whilst also confirming that we were all going to the Jordan Impact in June!
We then spent the next couple of hours dashing between the sides of the field, catching the Impact Runners coming in for their 400m lap and crossing the finish line. This is actually my favourite thing about the running community, the camaraderie between friends and strangers alike at the finish line. Even though I’d only known most of these runners for 6 days, I still felt hugely invested in their race. This was summed up by the fact that Mike and I wouldn’t go and get food until Mark had finished the marathon, we were so worried about missing him finish!
Cortney had run with a couple of others, and upon finishing announced that it was one of her most enjoyable races ever! Trail running removes so much of the time pressures we can put on ourselves in road races. After she was disappointed with her Chicago Marathon, I’m so thrilled that she had such a fun race and reignited her love of running – time for you to sign up for some more ‘no-pressure’ races Cortney!
I am so impressed with everyone that ran the full marathon and actually everyone that ran any of the distances, they were challenging! That terrain for 26.2 plus miles (a few people took a wrong turning and ended up running part of the course backwards) is so impressive. Personally I loved choosing the half marathon option this time and would definitely do that again for future Impact Marathon events (Jordan 2020!)
Post Race Beers…yes I know I’ve shared this pic already, but walking into a small shop in this small village to buy cold beers, walking back and chatting about our races was a highlight. We had all been talking about what our favourite post-race treat is, and dreaming of pizza, chips/fries, burgers, Diet Coke and beer. We did get some fries with dinner, however the homemade crisps and beer by the fireside was better than my usual post-race Shake Shack!!
Thanks to Nick and the rest of the Impact Team, to all the volunteers, medics and runners for making Nepal Impact Marathon race day so special!