An epic week in Nepal. Too much epic-ness for one blog so I’ve decided to give you the blog in two parts (as everything in one blog may end up a bit too long & overwhelming).
It all started with a lunch with Nick Kershaw when he shared with me his dream for the Nepal Marathon, it sounded incredible and, of course, with Nicks infectious passion & vision I left the lunch wanting to get involved in this incredible journey.
During the year i did have doubts about whether I should go. Money worries were giving me doubts but I put them aside so I could embark on this adventure of a lifetime no matter what.
It is amazing how fast it came round- it feels like so long since I’d booked it all and then suddenly it was almost time to fly to Nepal. I’ve done a lot of travelling but I’d never been to Nepal before. There was a Facebook group for the runners plus a couple of London based pre-trip meet ups (but I was unable to make those due to work). The Facebook group was useful for asking questions and checking on information needed for the trip. The recommended packing list was very useful.
I started packing & soon realised my little suitcase wasn’t going to do the job so i got myself a new (pink) suitcase for the trip. I filled it easily and confident I had just about everything I needed I zipped up and headed to Paddington to get the Heathrow Express.
The journey begins….
I saw on the Facebook group that there was another runner, Tom, on the same flight as me so we met at Pret for a quick chat before getting ourselves ready for the flight to Delhi. We arranged to see each other off the plane there as we had the same connecting flight. Once on the plane I saw on FB that Victoria was also on the same flight as us. I didn’t meet Victoria till we got to Delhi. It was great having 2 new friends to go for a cuppa & a chat before we went & got on the flight to Kathmandu.
The flight from Delhi to Kathmandu was glorious. I’d followed Nicks advice & booked a seat on the left hand side of the plane for the beautiful views over the Himalayas….it really was incredible. My mind was blown before we’d even landed. Our flight got delayed for 20 minutes in the air so we circled around the Himalayas- I was quite happy to stay in the air soaking up the spectacular views. I took lots of photos & felt like I was in love with Nepal already.
We landed in Kathmandu, Victoria & I got our visas sorted on arrival which was easy enough: a few forms to fill in, a computer form to fill in, then paid the $25 fee and we were through immigration, grabbed our luggage & were welcomed with a big hug from Nick. We waited for a couple more people from our flight before we were put into a cab to the hotel we would all be at for the night.
Hotel Manaslu was our destination for the night. There were three of us sharing. I was sharing with Sofia (who I knew from twitter but had never met) & Catelina who lives in London too. The hotel room was a nice surprise as it was lovely. There was an impact marathon bag with a race t-shirt in it & welcome note on the bed which was a lovely touch. After the long journey it was very tempting to lay down & get comfy but there wasn’t time for that so I had a shower and got myself ready to head down to meet everyone in the lobby for the meet & greet. A couple of us wandered around the corner to change some money (which was very easy). Then back t the hotel for dinner & drinks (which was all featured on the Nepal 9pm news).
Nick and some guests gave an incredibly inspiring talk. I felt very lucky to be there.
Day 2 : Charity visits
Before arriving we had all selected a UN Global Goal that we were passionate about so we were divided into groups for visits to different charities that support each goal. I chose education so I was on the ChildReach visit. We were up early for a bus to the Meera Centre in Panauti.
In it’s own words:
Meera centre is a model community based Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre which shall provide services to offer a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment essential for the healthy development of children aged 0-5 years; through children centered, parenting/family learning and effective outreach programmes which will help make positive difference to care, emotional support and psychosocial development for their young children.
The services of the centre will reach out to, atleast 90 children (per year); 180 parents/care takers (per year) directly and with indirect benefits for the 27,358 community members of Panauti.
This is a great place for pre-school children in the local community and helps with the transition to school which can be tough for the children. There are so many advantages to the local community for this centre and they have an amazing vision & initiatives in place to continue growing their support to the community. The kids were gorgeous and this visit really restored my faith in humanity after all the news in politics this year really making me feel disappointed in people.
We drove back to the hotel to pick up the bus that would take us out to Kakani out in the mountains. There were some pretty hairy narrow bends, and bumpy roads with sheer drops right next to the road which made for an interesting journey up there. There was lots of nervous laughter in the bus and as it got dark it felt crazy being on those roads. We arrived in the dark so I couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning and see where I was.
We arrived to a ceremony from the locals who were dancing & gave us flowers & scarfs. We had dinner at the camp & then were shown to our tents. After a long day I didn’t make it back up to the bar- I needed some sleep before an early start the next day.
I got up early for the 6am run….not my usual style but it’s not often you can wake up for an early run in the mountains to start the day. I felt a bit slow during the run as I’d expected it to be a group run where everyone stuck together but it was quite spread out. I was near the back but enjoyed the scenery & got some photos seeing the area around camp for the first time as the sun came up over the mountains.
Then it was back to camp to get ready for the day & eat some breakfast (which included some of the nicest porridge I’ve had).
After a short safety briefing “Don’t pick your feet” it was time to begin project pipeline. We would all be helping lay 5k of water pipe from a water tank to the local village. We dug holes, laid the pipe & then buried it to keep it insulated for the winter. It was such an awesome experience with instant gratification. The local army and nepalese women were involved in the project too and the women were especially awesome in their fabulous outfits & were doing an incredible job.
The work could have been more efficient & logical but we just had to go with it and adapt to that way of working.
After a hard days work we headed back to camp for a hot (!) shower which was fabulous and then I felt so calm & relaxed so I took my time enjoying a moment to myself before heading up to the bar for a hot rum punch (yum!) and then dinner. Then I went back to the bar for drinks and had a boogie before heading to bed.
I got up early for the 6am run again. I was last & then most of the group did hill sprints. I did 1 up & down & decided that was enough for me. 2 days before a marathon was no time for me to do hill sprints for the 1st time. A couple of us sat out the sprints and we felt a bit rubbish but I soon put that feeling to the side knowing that it was incredible to be in Nepal for this amazing experience and that “rubbish runner syndrome” (as I have now named it) is crazy- we surround ourselves by such talented runners & despite all the crazy running I’ve done this year I can still feel insecure about my running (I think I’ll write a blog about this subject at a later date).
Then we were out for another day of water pipe laying. It was a bit disorganised but some us did some dancing in the jungle (to my running playlist on my phone) at the back of the line in the morning and then digging holes as a small gourd at the front of the line in the afternoon.
We went back to camp for a cuppa, a warm shower & then some calm time to myself getting ready and watching the beautiful view descend into darkness as the sunset.
Then it was time for the race briefing: look out for leopards (!), killer wild chickens, buffalo & dogs- plus a waterfall crossing to be aware of. It was pretty terrifying and so exciting at the same time. It’s an incredible epic thing we’re all about to do. I’ll be slow but I WILL finish- as long as I make the cut off – it’s going to be emotional crossing the finish line.
I joined the others for a couple of drinks around the campfire and then went to bed.
To be continued…….
You can read Part 2 HERE