Nepali Times
3 days, 2 hours, 36 minutes


Two British ultra-runners have broken the world record for running from the base of the highest mountain in the world to Kathmandu.

Lizzy Hawker and Stephen Pyke jogged most of the 302km (188 miles) from Chomolungma Base Camp (5,545m) to Kathmandu in three days, two hours and 36 minutes. Their amazing feat beat the record set by Nepal's Kumar Limbu in 2000 by four hours and 34 minutes.

Even fast trekkers take about six days to walk from Everest Base Camp to Jiri, from where they take a bus to Kathmandu, which takes another seven hours depending on the traffic.

"We wanted to do it in three days but we got lost when we reached in Jiri and that cost us about three hours," said Hawker, an oceanographer who has won several mountain marathons in the Alps.

The team started off as a threesome and their other objective was climbing Ama Dablam (6,812m). "Climbing Ama Dablam was my main goal," said Mark Hartell, the main organiser of the project who decided to stop in Jiri after running without sleep for 36 hours.

RUNNING HIGH: Lizzy Hawker on the summit ridge of Ama Dablam before joining Stephen Pyke on the ultra run to Kathmandu (above).
The team set off to Nepal at the end of September and joined a climbing team for Ama Dablam. Due to a cold, Pyke, who is not really a climber, did not make it to the summit as he was saving his energies for the run.

"Summit day was the best day for me but I was surprised how tired I was afterwards. Lizzy did not seem to be fazed by the toughness of the mountain though," said 43-year old Hartell.

The team started running in -10 degrees temperature at 7.16 AM on 25 October from Everest Base Camp on a cold, clear morning. At that altitude, the density of oxygen is half that at sea level.

Due to its steep ascents, boulder strewn descents and thousands of trekkers, the trail was difficult to run at times. "At times we were completely stuck behind the trekkers and of course the yaks that took up most of the trail. But we had to be patient, this is Nepal after all," said Hawker, who came across extremely modest and unfazed by her amazing achievement.

"I think most of the trekkers thought we were mad and we got some funny reactions. We got a few comments like "eat more" or "get the plane", the 31-year old oceanographer continued.

All together the team ascended more than 10,000 metres and descended around 15,000 metres during their epic run, which also took them through the night.
"Running during the night was beautiful. We had full moon and there were no people on the trail," said Pyke.

Once they had reached the roadside Hawker and Pyke knew that they still had 188km to reach the capital. However, the support from local villagers kept them going.

"I was elated when we finished, especially the last 60 miles. I was so knackered and the road was pretty unrelenting, which was mentally tough. Physically the last four hours were the most difficult part for me," said Pyke.

Even though Hawker and Pyke were greeted by a team of journalists and applauding admirers in Kathmandu running at high altitudes seemed to be an easier task than arriving at the stadium, where they were coerced into doing another lap.

"The worst part was running into Kathmandu because of all the traffic, the noise and the smell. It was horrible," said Hawker.

The team ran an average of 3 miles an hour and used a GPS to record longitude and latitude in order to prove their achievement.

The next plan for the runners, who are also raising money for a community charity in Nepal, is to run and climb in South America in 2009.

Billi Bierling

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)