Everest Marathon, Nepal, 1989
It seems unbelievable that the Everest Marathon is now over. What follows is my account of events leading up to the race and the race itself.
Christopher (right) with Mike Hannelly
Gorak Shep, at over 17,000 feet, was, as predicted, very cold. I recorded -17 degrees celsius Inside my tent and it was well below -20 outside. Though conditions in the tent were predominantly dry, the mere exhalation of breath would leave a layer of moisture over the top of the bag which would freeze and provide no protection against the cold. Supper the night before had been a sorry affair and, as a result of the cold, many had elected to miss supper altogether.
Half a day's walk from Everest base camp, in the heart of the Himalayas, we were considerably higher than the highest summits of Europe. This meant that we were not only at war with the extreme cold, but also the distinct lack of oxygen.
Laughing in the face of adversity became the order of play. One evening I stood up and broke the silence with Oates' famous quote from the Antarctic. "I'm going outside. I maybe some time". Subsequently this became a group catch phrase and was heard on regular occasions.
Thankfully the morning of Friday the 24th finally arrived and those not already awake were woken at 6.00 a.m. All were served with a welcome cup of black coffee and a bowl of porridge which was eaten In haste. The voice of Tony Hunt broke the silence at 6.30 to inform all that there was half an hour before the start. I felt my adrenalin level rise as I donned knee and ankle supports; at -17 degrees it was more complicated than it sounds! A whistle blast indicated we had 10 more minutes before the start and should report to the starting line.
There was no time to think of what lay ahead: a course that had taken us 5 days to walk. I was number 42 of the 73 runners and all lined up in numerical order. It was 7.00 a.m.