Personally, I was really looking forward to this day for some weeks now. From my experience last year, the Volunteer Run is special because it allows the many volunteers here to share the central experience of the La Ultra together – distance running at altitude. In conditions where breathing is hard enough while walking, we have to summon that extra resolve to run. For sure, many of us are experienced runners, but still, to run in the Himalayas is special. Added to this is the experience of running, or just being, with some of the most accomplished ultra runners on the planet. Mark, Sukrit, George and Ankush were gracious enough to support this run by manning the aid stations.
We met at Goba Guest House at 5 am. I woke up at 3:30 am myself since I was assisting with the race logistics. One of the taxis was a little late getting here, but we did manage to get out by 5:20. A 25 minute drive from Goba took us to the 'Middle of Nowhere' which we had marked as the start point of the run. The course was a 10.5K up and back. Six of us started for the 21 K. Kieron Berry from New Zealand wore a Spider-Man suit. Kamil, Ferenc, Perwez, Zsolt and yours truly started the 21K at 6 am sharp. Priyanka and Gugu chose to bicycle this course because they also wanted to take pictures. Sukrit was the 'Race Director'. I felt winded even as I started out while the remaining five set off at a fair clip. By the time we hit the first aid station around 3.5K, I must have already been 8-9 minutes behind the others. By now I started feeling better and focused on running smoothly. Breathing got better and I felt more confident. The course was BEAUTIFUL.
Kieron reached the half way mark in 1 hour flat despite stopping to take his own pictures along the way followed by Kamil, Perwez, Ferenc, Zsolt and me. I hit the half way mark at 7:17, full 17 minutes behind Kieron. An, Lin, Elena and Nidah started from the half way mark on their own 10.5 K event.
Kieron completed at 8:00, followed by Kamil(8:17), Perwez(8:18), Ferenc (8:28), Zsolt(8:31) and me (8:39). Incredibly, I felt pretty good after this run. I was expecting to take 3 hours myself, but I surprised myself.
We had a small ceremony at the finish line to thank all involved and ate up most of the remaining snacks from the aid stations. Spider-Man Kieron, Mark and Kamil kept us all entertained.
Note: Because of the poor internet connectivity, I might be able to share some pictures later today or tomorrow. I'll do my best to share this ASAP.