It has now become a tradition every new year's day to organize the Annapurna Marathon. Together with the Everest Base Camp downhill run, it has now become a fixture in the international marathon scene.
This year, 140 runners from 25 countries set off in the pre-dawn darkness from Pokhara lakeside on January 1, 2012 on the Sixth Annapurna 100: an ultra-trail with 50km, 70km, and 100km options.
The runners first went up the Baglung highway to Milan Chowk, then broke off into the trail to Hemja and Dhampus. It was easy to get lost, and some of us did lose our way, but that is part of the challenge of the Annapurna 100: you have to find your own route.
This is the thing about marathons in the Himalaya, horizontal distance doesn't mean much because you have to factor in the vertical part of the trail.
Gandruk is the junction of the 70K, 100K, from where the 50K wallahs run down to the finish line at Birethanti. It was my dream to complete the 70K, but the Ghorepani Ridge was sure to be in snow and darkness would have set in by the time I reached the ridge. I was fully equipped, and mentally prepared to run in the dark, but not with snow and possibly ice on the rail.
So, reluctantly I headed down to Birethanti, finishing the 50km race in 9 hours and 20 minutes. The real heroes were the 70K and 100K runners that day, tired but still smiling.
Some were forced to run right through the night with only the light of their headlamps. There was a great sense of camaraderie with runners waiting in the darkness as the last of the marathoners of the 100K event touched the finishing line.
1. Aite Tamang 11:30 (Nepal Army)
2. Sudip Kulung 11:30:02
3. Bed Bahadur Sunuwar 11:55:11 (Nepal Army)
4. Tirtha Tamang 11:55:13 (Nepal Army)
5. Upendra Sunuwar 12:28:28
1. Samir Tamang 7:28:55 (Nepal Army)
2. Bhim Bahadur Gurung 7:30:16 (Nepal Army)
3. Bikash Shahi 8:20:38
4. ChhituKulung 8:58:16 (Nepal Army)
5. Krishna Karki 9:02:48 (Nepal Army)
1. Hom Lal Shreshta 4:27:16 (Nepal Army)
2. Purna Tamang 4:48:17 (Nepal Army)
3. Ram Kumar Khatri 4:48:20 (Nepal Army)
4. Shyam Kumar Parajuli 5:15:38 (Nepal Army)
5. Kumar Bogoti 5:15:40 (Nepal Army)
Nepali runners women's event 50km
1. Mani Kala Rai 6:15:10
2. Yangdi Lama Sherpa 6:55:24
3. Dolma Sherpa 7:28:33
Foreign runners men's event
1. Christophe Le Saux (France) 13:16
1. Marco Beretta (Italy) 12:11
2. Yusuke Tateno (Japan) 12:14
3. Tom Bellamy (UK) 14:32
1. Peter Gijsels (Belgium) 6:03
2. Shinsuki Ogura (Japan) 7:46
3. Michael Haseldine (Australia) 7:54
Foreign runners women's event
1. Xing Ruling (China) 14:35
2. Cecilia Bellotto (Italy) 15:17
3. Katja Fink (Switzerland) 18:15
1. Claire Price (UK) 7:00
2. Victoria Leckie (UK) 7:31
3. Dominique Price (Canada) 8:35