At first glance, the La Ultra seems to be a highly complex race. It is a bit complex, but I'll try to explain how this race works.
The La Ultra comprises of three separate races all beginning at the same time and start point In the middle of Nubra Valley. These races are run continuously over 111, 222 and 333 kms in 24, 48 and 72 hours respectively. There are cut offs to ensure that participants reach certain milestones during the race. The entire course is at altitudes between 11,500 – 17,500 feet. All runners go over Khardung La (claims to be the highest motorable pass in the world) in the first stretch of 111 Kms. The runners are supported by a common crew comprising of 6-8 vehicles and couple of ambulances in the first 78 kms. At this point, each of the participants in the 222 and 333 categorise gets a personal crew vehicle comprising of a driver and couple of volunteers. In the meantime, the 111K participants continue to be supported by the common crew until their finish line at 111K.
After the 111K mark, the 222 and 333 participants continue on and are expected to go up and down Wari La (another pass well over 17,500 feet) to the 222K mark. At this point the 333 participants continue on and cross Tanglang La to complete their race somewhere in the Morey Plains. The personal crew supports their 222/333 participants from the 78K mark to the end of their race. Thus, it is quite common for a personal crew to work continuously for 60 hours with little rest under extreme conditions of temperature, wind, dust and whatever else Ladakh and nature can throw at you. To summarise, a runner needs to go over one pass every 111 km. The weather is unpredictable and temperatures can be extreme. We ourselves experiences rain, snow and bright sunshine going up Wari La in the space of a few hours.
So, for the first 78 kms, each runner has to fend for himself with some support from the common crews. After that, each runner and their crew can develop an independent strategy for themselves. The personal crew car is stocked with food, equipment and other bare necessities for the runner and the crew. Since this is a continuous race, each team needs to figure out their race plan, resting schedule etc in continuously changing conditions.
A Pit Stop for Chris Yeo
Makeshift Kitchen in our Crew Car!
Note: I'll be uploading my daily reports and my Race Report over the next few days since I had no connectivity over the last four days