I did it finished my race and below is how it went The day before I began my race, I had an opportunity to visit both the orphanages in Darjeeling which sits on a mountain ridge higher than most European ski resorts, though its without snow, green, warm and sunny in the day time. Its a town of 250,000 people with the infrastructure for 50,000. If you have a house, your ground floor is level with the roof of the 3 storey house on street below you. Think old Hong Kong on a Himalayan hillside and you will get the picture of packed, teeming, vertical alleyways, shops and market stalls. The orphanages are spotlessly clean, and hopelessly overcrowded. There is lots of care and love, but these cannot buy an inside toilet or a book for a growing mind. The girls orphanage is the size of a ordinary suburban 3 bedroom house and has 45 girls aged between 5-17 in it. I met Lale (phonectic spelling) who was 17 and wanted to be a nurse, she has hope. Despite the meagre resources these orphanages have; to give hope is quite an achievement. Hugh Heron, one of the trustees showed me round with Penny another visitor and his son Rick , it was serendipity we were both in Darjeeling. I was struck by the integrity of all I have come in contact with in the Darjeeling Children's Trust and the orphanages. After being Delhi, India can strike you as a bottomless pit, yet this is the good side, kids without a future given hope. It gave me an incentive to run, and thank you for making it count. First day we started in Maneybhajang, to of all things, “the tune of bagpipes” which is a traditional instrument here on the borders of Nepal. Unexpected, bit like turning up in Glasgow Central Station to the greeting of wee Scottish lasses in grass skirts, playing ukuleles handing out flower garlands, slightly surreal. We were given Tibetan Prayer Scarves in white and a blessing for our run and we were off, all 60 of us, on day 1. Day 1. 24 miles, a gut wrenching slog of a day. The hardest day full stop. Total climb 9,100ft according to Louise's Garmin. The last 3 miles above 10,000 ft it's difficult to breath and after 5 paces your leg muscles knot up in pain. On the way up I meet a nice guy who's in trouble with cramp and he's done the Marathon de Sable, perhaps I'm out of my league. So I give him some salt which helps with the cramp and we talk each other up to the finish line and our camp Sandakphu at 11,815ft. Thought I was close to last but still 14 to come in, and in the end 9 didn't make it and came up by jeep. Day 2. 20 miles. Wake up and the window above my bed has lovely frost patterns I haven't seen since I was child, I reach out to touch and.… the frost is on the inside, -7 C outside. Slept with 3 layers on plus down jacket, sleeping bag and fleece blanket. Watch sunrise on the Himalayas, breathtaking. Good crowd, lively at breakfast and its 5.30am we are racing in an hour. Legs feel good, let rip and get a good time for me. Get back early, one of the Nepalese cooks brings out a charcoal brazier they use for cooking for us, so we sit around it warming ourselves, chatting in a group in the sun, hooting and cheering every time someone finishes. At 4.00 pm race briefing which are starting to be down points about this race, over an hour, huddled in a hut with 50 + people at a subzero temperature Day 3. Marathon 26 miles. We are following a jeep trail along the Nepalese border, as I run if I stand on the left side of the trail I am in Nepal and on the right in India. So I have been to Nepal, even taken a pee there, but not officially!! Love this race, follow the ridge for 16 miles then drop 6000ft down through
rain gullies, steps, dry stream beds, and jungle to the village of Rimbik home of Sherpa Tenzing. Nirvana, hot showers, no more flannel baths in bare concrete rooms at -5. Toilet still French style hole in the floor though. My feet are swollen and suffering. So I take an hour plus to deal with blisters and sore spots, rub in voltarol gel. Dinner tonight is great, we chat, joke and laugh. Stir fry peppers, chicken, noodles and a glass of beer, fantastic. Day 4. Half Marathon. 13 miles. Road race all tarmac. Feet sore, but legs strangely okay after 70 miles, but its a down hill start and remains so for 6 km. Walking let alone running down anywhere after a marathon is a nightmare. Given a choice between of running downhill or crawling up over broken glass , most would have taken the latter. Pleasant day for me as I overtook and finished ahead of one the top European guys. Yipeeeeeeh. We had to bus back to the hotel and ours burst a tire on a bridge. We had to wait a couple of hours, so we chatted and emptied the local shop of drinks and biscuits till the tire as fixed. Day 5. 17 Miles. My legs are dead. The worst part of marathon is the last 6 miles and this is how my legs felt now at the start. At 20 miles your legs are lumps of unresponsive meat unless you are a sports wunderkind, which I am definitely not. When it came to sports me and my family's flag is firmly planted in the shallow end of the gene pool. What we are good at are the freestyle cheeseburger medley, all you can eat Chinese buffet with hurdles or cross country curry. This was a 7 mile climb then down to the finish, don't remember too much just the finish, lots of yelling school kids and my friends and fellow runners shouting my name. Then disbelief, you could see it on other peoples faces too. We'd done it and it wasn't quite real. We had finished.
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