So as some of you may be aware from my barrage of instagram photos I’ve just come back from a little holibobs to Nepal and Italy. Yes, I was lucky enough to take a last minute, totally unplanned trip back to Nepal to race the Mustang Trail race.The Mustang Trail race is a multistage trail running challenge through the wild, spiritually rich landscapes of Upper Mustang in Nepal. It is race of eight stages of around 15 to 32km totaling just under 200 km at altitudes between 2,900-4,300m (9,500-14,100ft) with 8200m (27,000ft) of elevation change. I raced the very first event back in 2013 and loved every bit of it so when Rich the RD sent me an email asking if I would return I struggled to say no, especially as the flights were unusually cheap at the moment. I had been struggling with some on going niggles which prevented me from running Manchester marathon back in April. Although able to run I hadnt been able to string together any speed work for a few months due to reoccuring inflammation in the hip area. I knew from past experiences that getting off road and high had ironed out some of these niggles, indeed the first time I went to Nepal in 2012, I flew out with a chronic hamstring tendinopathy and came back pain free. I can only equate this to my body changing its running gait and activating the ancillary muscle groups in my legs which in turn take the load off my hamstrings which I use for forward motion. Im pretty sure running on the canal/towpath creates an overload on my hamstrings and although I try to reduce the amount of time I spend on the path its hard to keep off it as much as I would like because of where I live. Anyhow, the race did the trick. I went out a bit stiff and sore and came back pain free, fitter and much stronger. I was suprised how strong I felt on the climbs (some of these are epic and go on for miles….and into the skinny air) compared to last time, I can only contribute this to the extra S&C sessions I had been doing since christmas, I had increased my time lifting and upped my weights considerably every week. This is something I will continue to do this summer as really do think this helped my climbing ability. I also felt by the end of the week my descending had improved considerably, I was even keeping up with the lead mountain goat guys by the end of the trip.
I was super happy to win the race and come second overall especially amoungst some speedy young trail runners from Oregon and Austraila who seemed to get stronger everyday. Mustang is incredably beautiful, the mountains are like nothing I have seen before, they are wild with dramatic canyons, monestries, caves, tiny villages with breathtakinig views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri in the background.The region of Mustang only opened to tourism in 1992 and is an enclave of pure Tibetan Buddhist culture, indeed the many monestaries and caves house some historic and priceless artworks.
If you want a challenge and love the idea of running somewhere super remote with the camaraderie that comes with multi day stage races then this race is a must (mustangtrailrace.com)
So after a somewhat challenging journey home (helicopter, taxi, delayed plane, missed transfer at Doho….finally arrive home 24hrs late) I only had 24hrs to rinse out my knick nacks and repack for my next mountain adventure. This trip had been planned a fair while ago but I hadnt intended to go to Nepal before booking this trip. After the great success of last years trip to Annecy to recce the Maxi trail race, I suggested we should all take a trip to Cortina to check out the Lavaredo Ultra Trail route (24th june). Luckily I have a motley crew of crazy mates who love an adventure and Cortina has the added bonus of some great climbing as well as cyling routes. The week turned out to be a great success, although the ski season had literally finished the weekend we got their the trails were still partly accessable. Unfortunately anything over 1800ms was unrunnable (we spend a few hours trekking through snow upto our knees at one point) but the bits we did get on were truly stunning. The course is 120k long with over 5000ms vert gain, lots of technical sections but also some lovely runnable trails. The views from the high parts are spectacular, its going to be a super tough race especially as it starts at 11pm but I am glad I got to experience some of the terrain before the race.
The week was spent running with friends, stopping to gasp at the views, sharing brioche picnics and ending the day with carafes of wine and giant pizzas. Pretty much my perfect holiday!