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, in context, that’s not actually too bad, with four days and about 130 km behind me. I woke up feeling motivated again. This time we started with a long, 10 km / 6 mile ascent  – getting bussed in from Rimbik to start at the same place where we had finished the day before (that was actually a very nice bit of route planning, because it meant we stayed at the same hotel those two nights, rather than having to pack up every morning). So this morning’s 600 m climb was actually just a continuation of yesterday’s 500 m climb up from the Ladoma River – over 1 km up the valley wall!

Ready to finish this thing! The start line on Day 5.

Ready to finish this thing! The start line on Day 5.

Then from there was the final long downhill (17 km!). There were definitely a few nackered knees today. I was amazingly injury-free, which was especially amazing considering that in the last two years I have had extended bouts of runner’s knee (PFP), achilles tendinitis, and metatarsalgia. I usually do relatively well on the later days of these multi-day ultramarathons. I am never a fast runner – but I am good at taking care of myself on these endurance events. Usually around Day 4 I start creeping up in the standings relative to the other runners, and this Himalayan race was no exception.

Again, my full race report for the day can be found on SleepMonsters – and here are the photographic highlights:

Off from the start line - the fastest runners just going out of sight around the first curve, and the rest of us pacing ourselves for a walk/run routine to make it up this final huge hill.

Off from the start line – the fastest runners just going out of sight around the first curve, and the rest of us pacing ourselves for a walk/run routine to make it up this final huge hill.

This was a long uphill slog, especially for anyone nursing an injury or not feeling well.

This was a long uphill slog, especially for anyone nursing an injury or not feeling well.

I didn’t take any more pictures from here on. This long uphill was mostly forested, so there weren’t any views – and, being the side of the valley shaded from the morning sun, it was also surprisingly cold. I just kept to my walk-run routine, running as much as I possibly could, and was happy to be keeping a really good pace, ahead of most of the people that I usually am following.

Local kids lined up to cheer us in!

Local kids lined up to cheer us in!

Once we made the top, we had 17 km of pretty much steady downhill ahead. Even on pavement, I am not that great a downhill runner, and many of the people who I had passed on the uphill now passed me. But my energy was great, and my knees were holding out – to my surprise, I passed several of them again about halfway down. It seemed forever until I started to hear the sounds of the finish line, children clapping and crowds cheering, still a few km down the valley. My legs were really hurting by now, I even had to take short walking breaks on the downhill just to relieve the pain… but I was so close!

The finish line was great - big crowds, and local kids lined up to tie a scarf around every finisher's neck.

The finish line was great – big crowds, and local kids lined up to tie a scarf around every finisher’s neck.

The support and the enthusiasm of the local kids, through ALL stages of this race, was really impressive. And just their staying power... they hung out for hours at aid stations or at the finish line on the route, just to cheer us on.

The support and the enthusiasm of the local kids, through ALL stages of this race, was really impressive. And just their staying power… they hung out for hours at aid stations or at the finish line on the route, just to cheer us on.

Claudia and Jerry finished together, just a few minutes behind me.

Claudia and Jerry finished together, just a few minutes behind me.

And here are Glenn and Yvette, finishing together.

And here are Glenn and Yvette, finishing together.

I finished in 3:33 – not an amazing time for a 27k, I know… but it was a tough route, one constant up followed by one constant down, following four long and hard days. I am totally happy with it. And it brought my cumulative time for the 160 km ultramarathon route to 28:17, well under the 30 hour goal I had set. And, even better, I finished feeling strong and happy and injury-free!

Yes!! (Thanks to Johan Berggren for this pic).

Yes!! (Thanks to Johan Berggren for this pic).

This was not just an amazing and challenging race… the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race is an incredible experience – whether you are a competitive ultramarathonner, or simply a trail runner with a sense of adventure. I truly hope to go back and do it again (next time, with Dave!) FYI: The race has been running for 24 years, so you can count on an experienced and reliable organization. Next year’s event runs October 16-23, 2014, info at: http://himalayan.com/

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