Brent Runs Everest

About Brent Thomson

Brent ThompsonMy first visit to Nepal was in 1996. We often hear people describe travel experiences as “life changing” and that was certainly true for me on that trip. I fell in love with the people, the culture and the mountains. The combination inspired me in a way nothing else in my life had before. The one factor that did not inspire, but which made as much of an impression was the choking cloud of poverty under which these people live. My observation that no matter how difficult day to day life was for the Nepalese I was always greeted with eye contact, a warm smile and a genuine willingness to engage with me. (I might add these were all environmental attributes that eluded me in Boston where I was living at the time.)

I returned to Nepal in 1997 and 2002. Each time I would follow the usual etiquette of bringing pens and colored pencils for the children I would encounter in the remote villages high in the mountains and always leave my equipment and western luxuries i.e. four season sleeping bag, Patagonia expedition level clothing and really anything else a Sherpa could want and use. Those gestures always felt too easy and of narrow benefit for a place so desperate for so many things. I wanted to contribute on a greater level, but wasn’t sure how to make that happen. In 2008, I came across the Mt Everest Marathon which existed primarily as a fundraising vehicle for multiple charities in Nepal. I have been an avid runner since 1984 and this seemed like a no-brainer. I immediately applied for a space in the Marathon and was summarily denied a spot. Crestfallen, I put it aside for a year, but checked the website often for photos, information and to keep abreast of what I was missing. In April of this year I received an email from the organization with an invitation to compete in the 2011 Mt Everest Marathon billed as the “Highest & Hardest Marathon in the World.” In accepting this invitation I have committed to much more than physical/mental training. I have committed to putting my heart and soul into raising as much money as I can to help this country achieve a higher standard of living for its people. Food, medicine, clean water and education will all benefit from your generous donations.

About The Race

Everest Marathon Course MapThe Everest Marathon is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest marathon in the world.   The start line is at Gorak Shep 5184m (17,000 feet), close to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.   The finish is at the Sherpa town of Namche Bazaar at 3446m (11,300 feet) and the course is a measured 42 km (26.2 miles) over rough mountain trails.   It is the world's most spectacular race and has been held thirteen times since 1987.

Although the course is basically down hill, there are two steep uphill sections.   There may be snow and ice on the upper part and there is considerable exposure along much of the route.   For this reason the race is only suitable for runners with recent experience of cross country, fell or mountain running and endurance events.   Experience of rough terrain is essential and road marathon experience is not sufficient.

The race is a non-profit-making venture organised by Bufo Ventures Ltd with all profits put into the Everest Marathon Fund, a UK registered charity (number 1005422).   So far this has raised over £520,000 to support health and educational projects in rural Nepal.   Most of the money has been raised by the runners themselves and many divide the amount raised, with 50% to the Everest Marathon Fund and 50% to a charity in their home country.   In this way the race has also raised large sums of money for a wide range of good causes around the world.   

The race starts at Gorak Shep (5184m), just below Everest base camp, and finishes in the Sherpa 'capital' of Namche Bazaar (3446m). The course is a measured 26.2 miles/42 km and, although it is basically downhill, the trail undulates and there are two steep uphill sections. The race starts at 6:30 am and there are cut-off points at Tengboche monastery (14 miles - 12.15 pm) and Chorkhung (20 miles - 2.15 pm), just above Namche Bazaar. The last 6 miles, out to Thamo and back, are on an exhausting undulating trail. It is essential to finish by nightfall at 6.00 pm.

The terrain is very varied: boulders, grass, sandy scree, stone staircases, trails through forest and exposed paths which contour the mountain sides. The trails will seem quite good to those used to mountain or fell running, but there are additional hazards by way of narrow suspension bridges and yak trains. The race course is not marked and it is the responsibility of each runner to learn the route on the trek up.