After failing in my first attempt at the Ronda dels Cims I made the decision to give it a second go next July. With that in mind I planned my races for this winter season. Main goal is get back the confidence – first by finishing a 100km race (my last success at 100km distance was way back in March 2016). But as Ronda is a tough race I picked a tough 100km race too as a confidence booster – Formosa Trail in Taiwan organized by Taiwan Beast Runners.
I went into this race with only one goal – to finish. I heard some stories about the technical nature of this race and the look at the profile also promised some tasty climbs. The strategy was to follow the John Ellis School of Pacing from the start to keep the legs reasonably fresh for the monster climb after 50km. And then see what happens.
4am Start in Puli
Race started very early in the morning, 4am. It was still dark so headlamp was obligatory. I set out in very comfortable pace. I knew that we started together with the 65km runners but seeing people flying by me making noises like a tired steam engine still surprised me. In any case I did not care, I kept on jogging in my relaxed pace. This had one advantage. I had so many people and so much light around me that for first 4-5km I could save my headlamp battery .
While planning my OXFAM Trailwalker trophies delivery trip to Kathmandu I realized that some cool things are happening there at that time. First the 54km Stupa to Stupa trail race. Then after a day break one could join the Kathmandu Valley Rim training tour organized by the legend Lizzy Hawker. This would nicely fit to my training for Ronda del Cims in Andorra – so I decided to join both.
Not having chance to recce the race route I actually uploaded the GPX to my watch and finally learned how to use the navigation function . It was about the time. But frankly – it was not really necessary. The route was very well marked, one would have to try very very hard to get lost. My flight schedule made things a bit complicated. I only landed in Kathmandu around 10pm the evening before the race. After the obligatory wait for the luggage to emerge on the belt and the taxi ride it was just about midnight when I made it to the hotel. And 4am I had to wake to be able to eat something and get to the 6am morning start. Not ideal but sleep deprivation is part of ultra races so practising it can’t hurt .
Having Purna picking me up in the morning was a great help. And the more of the AWOO Team Nepal in the team colours showed up at the start – what a great moral boost ahead of my first ever race in Nepal.
Swayambhu Stupa – race start
I experienced a lot of Nepal exposure over the course of past 12 months. Different earthquake relief events, bringing Nepali runners to Hong Kong for Trailwalker and HK100 runners, the Mira movie… It seemed appropriate to finally visit the country.
While doing the HK100 podcast with Vince we somehow started to talk about Nepal trip. Each of us had it in mind and so we decided to plan in together. We came up with workable dates. I sent the dates to Ramesh in Nepal just to check we will be still OK weatherwise. At the same time I asked him for some suggestion of trek route that we could do within the time available to us. Within few days I received very detailed Annapurna Base Camp trek itinerary with a suggestion of taking Kiran, one the of Nepali trail runners, as our guide.
Vince sent our expedition plans to several other people thought to be interested in making the Nepal trip too. Within 2 weeks we had a 6 people team. Few weeks of preparations and funny pre-trip whatsapp chatter followed. On April 15 we were ready o depart.
Four of us – me, Vince, Roger and Hannes travelled from Hong Kong, Tilly from Geneva and Dom was joining us in Kathmandu after spending couple of weeks in the Everest area.
Day 1 – Travel to Kathmandu
The trip was uneventful. With boarding almost complete we still could not see Hannes but at the end he showed up. Before take off I did a final email check. I found the message from Ramesh with subject “TILLY COLLECTION” confirming that Tilly was successfully collected from the airport and delivered to the hotel. All good there.