Archive for December, 2013

Christmas Birdcount 2013: 45 species of birds around Port Alberni seen in a day!

Red-breasted sapsucker at work.

Red-breasted sapsucker at work.

Here’s a fun thing to do outdoors – while doing your bit for your community, the environment, and science: the Audubon Christmas Birdcount! It takes place across North America, and in many other parts of the world too, during December and January. Port Alberni’s count was yesterday, December 29th. I’ll update this post with the total number of birds seen across the whole Port Alberni count area (by other groups, too) when Read the rest of this entry »

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Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race: Day 5, final 27 km to complete our 160 km ultramarathon, woohoo!

Finished! Thanks to Nil Bohigas for the photo.

Finished! Thanks to Nil Bohigas for the photo.

My legs had felt great after the first three days. Even though they were on the rougher terrain – tough trails, high elevation, lots of long ascents and descents – Day 4 on the roads was much harder on my body. That’s because, on the trails, I do a mixture of running and hiking. (Not to mention, I was running this race as a journalist – I had good excuse to stop, to take photos, too). But Day 4 was all on pavement, and it was hard to justify not running (not to mention I was motivated to run hard that day, as I realized I had the possibility of breaking 30 hours for my total ultramarathon time).

So this final day was the first day that I started with a bit of muscle soreness. But, Read the rest of this entry »

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Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race: Day 4, half-marathon distance with lots of down then up

LP1020615And now for something completely different… the last two days of the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race (a 5-day, 160 km ultramarathon) were on pavement! Our route for Day 4 was a half-marathon distance,  starting with a 425 m / 1400′ descent via steep switchbacks down to the Ladoma River, then about 6 km of flats along the river, then up the other side: a relentless climb of 500 m / 1600′ through steep forested switchbacks.

I had entered this event with no time goals at all – my only goals were to finish all stages, and to appreciate where I was. But of course, by the end of the first day you Read the rest of this entry »

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Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race: Day 3, the most amazing (and slowest) marathon I have ever run!

Gracias a Nil Bohigas for this great pic of me!

Gracias a Nil Bohigas for this great pic of me!

The wind battered our huts up at Sandakphu, at elevation 3600 m / 12,000′,  for another night… but this time we had no questions of whether the race would go on or not. It would. In fact, the night before, Mr. Pandey told us of how, one year, it snowed up here – but the race went on anyway. It is true, that the toughness you need to run ultramarathons is every bit as much mental as physical.

Sandakphu is the only place in the world where you can see four of the world’s five highest mountains, including Everest. However, I think everyone had given up on having mountain views. We were just trying to survive the cold. So when Assistant RD Mansi Pandey came pounding at our hut door at 6:25 am, 5 minutes before race start, it was a complete shock. “Come quickly!’ she cried. “The sky has cleared, you can see Kanchenjunga!”

Kanchenjunga, at 8586 m (28,169′) is the highest mountain in India, and the third highest mountain in the world. In fact, up until 1852, it was thought to be Read the rest of this entry »

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Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race: Day 2, a 20 mile out-and-back along the India-Nepal border

LP1020460Day 2 of our 5-day ultramarathon was a 32 km / 20 mile out-and-back run, along the ridgeline that is the border between India and Nepal. The weather was exceptionally cold – we had passed a freezing night up at Sandakphu (3600 m, nearly 12,000′), with the wind battering our huts and occasional rain squalls. I wasn’t even sure whether today’s stage would go ahead – but it did.

Most of us had to wear all of the running clothes we had brought with us, as well as some of our camp clothes. I really don’t do well in the cold – I chill very easily – so I decided to Read the rest of this entry »

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Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race: Day 1, Maneybhanjang village up up and up the ridgeline to Sandakphu mountain

LP1020436Day 1 of our 100 mile (160 km) run through the Himalayas! Our route would take us, for the next three days, running along the ridgeline that IS the border between India and Nepal. Most of that run was along a cobblestone road – not cobblestone in the English sense, much rougher and more randomly sized stones (cobble to boulder size) pieced together into a sort of road. Tough to run on. And, basically, if you stumbled slightly to the left, you would fall into Nepal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race Ultramarathon, India: Arrival in Mirik, acclimatization, and a bit of tourism too!

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Race headquarters: town of Mirik, India

At long last, I am finally posting pictures of my amazing adventures in India! For those of you who don’t know, in October and November I ran the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race, a 160 km staged ultramarathon, run over five days in northern India. For most of the first three days, we were running right along the border of India and Nepal. Yep, altitude was an issue (everyone asks me that – so I’m just getting that part over with). The route was roughly a big loop (with a few out-and-backs thrown in), starting around 2000 m / 6000′, and heading up that first day to nearly 3600 m / 12,000′, and staying that high for the next two days, until Read the rest of this entry »

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