The 14th Edition of the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon was held on May 29 this year. The first such marathon was organized in May 19, 2003, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary in 1953. The next edition is scheduled for May 29, 2017.
This year, the first three places of the full marathon were won by Bed Bahadur Sunuwar, Bhim Bhadur Gurung, and Suman Kulung. There were 146 runners participating. The half marathon was won by Tenzing Christopher Dolmans of Holland, while the 60 kilometer ultra marathon was won by Tirtha Bahadur Tamang.
The Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon is a unique event, organized at the foot of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. It starts at Gorakshep (5,184 m) and ends at Namche Bazaar (3,446 m), thus it is the highest marathon in the world. The highest elevation of the race is at Kalapattha (5,545 m). The rough terrain of the high Himalayas adds to the rigors of running at such high altitudes.
Participants are advised to be in Nepal three weeks before the start of the race, so that they get enough time for acclimatization to the high altitudes. Even though the marathon is mostly downhill, there are two steep uphill sections that can challenge the fittest runner, and the chances of there being snow and ice on the upper part are high, so participants should have some knowledge and experience of trekking at high altitudes.
The full marathon is 42.195 km long. A half-marathon is 21 km long, and the ultra marathon is 60 kilometers. The marathon runs through some of the highest glaciers and moraines in the world for a stretch of about 10-15 km, and across the historical route to Everest taken by Hillary and Tenzing in 1953.
Marathoners will come across monasteries, chortens, suspension bridges, and of course, jaw dropping landscape that includes beautiful natural scenery, rhododendron forests, and orchid groves. The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal. They bloom from early March till April and May, so you may be lucky to see entire hills of red. What’s more, the trail meanders along pristine Sherpa villages, such as Lobuje, Pheriche, Dingboche, Thyangboche, Khumjung, Khunde, and Namche Bazaar.
Organizers generally plan a three-week itinerary that includes sightseeing in Kathmandu Valley, and a trek at high altitude, which ensures that all participants are adequately acclimatized. They could also combine all this with a climb of Island Peak (6,189 m).