Hope you all are awesome and have had a great couple of months. So sorry for late post after my India adventure just had a few things going on and now here in Western Australia working getting ready for the next adventure.
This a pretty long post so maybe give yourself some time to read it. Sorry but wanted to let you know what went on in India.
I want to say a huge thankyou to everyone for helping me get to and compete in La Ultra The High race in Leh India In August. It was full of amazing moments and a beautiful race atmosphere. I flew over to Leh in India after a month of plumbing work with Friths plumbing in Bairnsdale Australia to get the final funds to make this happen. Then Frithy and the team helped by helping with my flights to get me there. Thankyou so much .
Big shout out to the Gilbert family for having me over the weekends and again feeding me and bringing me Chocolate milk when I run out to there house. Little Cobie thanks so much.
I arrived in Leh excited as 4 others from the 2012 The High race I run where there too, seeing the boys again was super special. Also seeing Molly Sheridan again was amazing and the crew who have made the event happen again was great. New runners from around the world where there to run the 3 different races, 111km 222km and 333kms which I was in. There were 17 runners altogether and 9 in the 333kms.
The first 10 days where spent getting use to living and running at the attitude, we were based in Leh which is at 3500m. Leh is a amazing place with the huge 5000 – 6000 peaks surrounding the area and the zig zag roads that line the sides of the mountains. I did trips to monstary’s with Molly and Taylor and saw Leh for all its awesomeness.
We went out one day with a small mission in mind, to do the highest Beer Km in the world, we drove up to Tanglung La which is 5200m , we had to drink a big bottle of beer( was bloody warm) in 2 minutes and then run a Km . Now drinking a beer at sea level can be a struggle but at 5000m its real hard and then run is just bloody dangerous but we did it, 2 heats. 1st heat me, Kim, Elise, Micheal and 2nd Heat John, Allen and Gina. it was super fun. finished off the day chilling by a river at 4500m.
We were to be running 3 of the highest drivable roads in the world and I remember last time when we took motorbikes up to check out one of the hills and even the bike was struggling with the attitude. We hired local taxis most days and got them to take us up to different heights where we would either hang out for a hour or so or even run down the hill for 5kms and then walk back up so we would get more use to the attitude. It is a slow process and the way your body reacts changes everyday, Maybe great one day then no good the next but over the 10 days we all where feeling great. .
We had a 15km trail run mostly for the crew but we all went in it. It was over 3 smaller passes of 4000m and it was either up or down, We just cruised along and I came in second equal in 3hrs 30 mins. Was a great morning out. Everyday I was getting more and more excited.
I was excited to have my crewman Stanzin back helping me this year, he was amazing in 2012 and I knew having him in my team all I would need to do is run or keep moving forward for the 72hrs that we had to finish. At one of the pre run meetings I met my other crew guy Kavin and he was great too, lots of energy and keen to learn from Stanzin of what to do along the way. He also is a photographer so a lot of the photos he took for us.
Then race was to start at 10pm on the 17th August so we headed over to the start point which was 100kms from Leh. It was a 6 hour drive to get there as the roads aren’t the best at the top. The camp was great, a tent set up as they get a lot of snow in the winter time, we just chilled right out and talked to our crews with the last minute things and the plan for the race. My plan was to smile the whole way, just go how my body felt at the time and have the best time ever. My plan never changes haha. I wasn’t as fit as I would have liked to be but I was here and I felt great so that was all I needed. We wouldn’t have our crews for the first 90kms so we had drop bags at different spots with everything from Suncream to gear incase it snowed. And it did, even though it is summer and it had been high 30’s the whole time when you get up to 5000m things change real fast. Be ready for anything! With the 10pm start we all tried to sleep during the day but there was a festival going on down the street so that didn’t really happen. I was excited as hell when we got in the bus to go the 30mins to the start point. IT WAS ON.
We had a opening cermony for the 17 athletes , flags and everything.
The 17 of us lined up in the dark , there were more crew and organizers than athletes and we were in the middle of nowhere about to run the run of our lives. I had 72hours to run 333kms. Day and night we would run. Rajat the organizer got us lined up, started the count down and we were OFF.
The first section was 8kms of flat road heading towards the first hill ( mountain) where it was 63kms to the top . Yes we had to climb from 3200m to 5400m over 63kms. There was a cut off at North Pullu the 48km mark which for us in the 333 was 8 hours and 7 for the other races. This is ok when it is run at sea level but as they found out not enough for this race. Everyone set off slow and settled into their own pace. I was running with 2012 champion Michael Nielsen and Kim Rasmussen both from Denmark. Amazing runners and I was happy to be able to head up the hill with them. I was thinking they would leave me in the dust but we keep each other going over that first section. We only just made the cut off and come in at 7hrs 50 mins. Micheal wasn’t feeling great and slowed for a bit so me and Kim kept going.
At that 48km mark only 2 of the 17 runners went under 7hrs which meant that everyone who was running the 111km and 222km races were out. Amazing to think that everyone would not be running anymore. All of the 333km runners made the cut off but then as we got higher and the attitude came into effect lots of things started happening. As I climbed the sun was getting hotter and hotter, less air making it hard to breath so the pace slowed. I could see the faster runners slowing down and we were catching them. When I say seeing them they were only a zig zag ahead but in India a zig zag came be 5- 10kms long so I was that close.
When I got to the top of the first Mountain called Khargdung La the view was amazing and I felt great, A quick medical check up of oxygen levels and I was off, I still had the next check point at 78kms to get to in 15 hrs so had a little work to do. You might think going down hill would be easy but after almost 10 hours of climbing and well being at 5400m it was a fast walk down the hill to South Pullu. As I got closer I could see other runners and was happy when they were walking too. It was real hot out there and the dust from the trucks going past was crazy. I did mange to run a bit as I got lower. Just as I turned for south Pullu I saw a ricksaw bike the guy had pushed and rode it to the top for world peace, I run up along side them for a chat . It is one of my favourite photos of the trip.
When I arrived at Pullu in good time and saw Jason, he was one of the leaders right from the start and now was lying in the back of a car with Attitude sickness, I was gutted to see this as he had run a great start, Sadly I heard a bit later that he was out.I continued down the hill and got caught by Sato san from Japan, he was learning to the right something wicked but walking so fast he past me. I had to run walk to keep up with him. His hamstring was gone but he didn’t want to give up. So strong.
We pushed each other down to where the crews where waiting and I tell you that is a awesome site after 90kms by yourself. I took 20 mins in the shade and had a chocolate milk and some chips to give me energy and off I went. That chocolate milk was just what I needed and started to run again. I was stoked and cruised in to Leh to stop in at the Goba Hotel for a medical check up and a sleep. It was 4.30pm so had been going around 18 hours. I took a shower and had 45 mins sleep and a pizza and pushed myself back out on the road. I must admit I wasn’t sure how far I could keep going, feeling really tired.
As we headed past the airport Micheal caught up with me and said “ come on bro lets go” , I replied “ Nah bro you go and Ill see ya later” as I wasn’t sure I could. He wouldn’t let me and got me going. To my surpise I ran and we made some great time as we headed towards Karu at 150kms. Back in the dark now we both got a bit tired so decided to have a hour sleep , when we woke and tried to run again Micheal wasn’t good and he said he would sleep again. I carried on running as I felt great now. A shock to come as Micheal drove up beside me and said he was pulling out, He looked and was so so tired and just couldn’t recover. Now I was more determined to carry on and see if I could take the power he had given me to the end. There were 4 of us left in the race.
A few hours later I past Mark Woolley who was in his car sleeping on the side of the road and I was all of a sudden given more power as I was now in 3rd and totally shocked to see the others having to pull out. This race is so hard aye. As I made Karu and rounded the corner to head up the 2nd mountain Wari La our crew car just stopped. Me and Stanzin continued on foot and left Kavin and the driver to sort it out. Thinking it would start right away. Heaps of stray dogs around here we both had sticks in hand just in case. We made calls to get us a new car but it took 2.5hrs until the boys turned up, Without the support of VJ and his organizing car I wouldn’t have had any water or food but they sorted us out. Poor Stanzin did 10kms with me he was so tired.
We made the 161km mark as the sun came up so right in front of me was Wari La. It was 6am and 30 kms to the top and I had to be back at this spot 222km mark by 10 pm, yes that is a long time to do the 60kms but it was a long way to the top and I was a bit tired. Not to worry as the sun came up and powered me up . I looked to the mountain and said a big hi to Kim and John who I thought were out there in front of me. Once my car turned up the boys told me that John was behind me I was shocked as he had been running so so well and was the first guy for most of the race. I wasn’t sure where I had pasted him but it didn’t matter as the 4 of us where now within 15kms of each other and that was a special feeling. We were all from the 2012 race and I knew we were all strong as. It was a great feeling.
I continued to climb and the day got hotter and hotter, the road up was way way harder than the last. Steeper corners and roads were breaking us all down little by little. I was feeling great but feeling every step as we got higher. I could see Mark catching me and Kim out in the front of me. No John let .The last 2 kms to the top at just over 5000m was the hardest and this is where I met Kim who was coming down again. He was going great and his crew of Taylor and Sham where pacing him amazingly. We laughed as before the race we had being chatting about our training and we had both turned up here with only a few runs under our belts thinking we would die early on. But we were both strong. We hugged and wished each other well and walked on.
I made the top of Wari La in 7 hours which I was happy with. Rajat and his teams and all the crews and some of the runners where there, I tell you the power you get from everyone is amazing. I had some noodles and had a lie down on my Air mat to shortly after ne joined by Mark. He was also slowed just at the top but we were now chilling together and both feeling great. I think he a little better for sure. He sure looked it. We headed down and straight away Mark was off , he is a amazing runner and I watched as he flew down and I ate his dust. My crew were tired and I was good so I said head down 5kms or so for a sleep . I was fine at the start but with the heat of the day I soon was heated up and running out of water. I could see them down the valley but I think it was a bit further that 5kms, It didn’t matter as I had told them but just wanted a huge drink of anything.
As I made them another Chocolate Milk made my lips and I was off again. Not running at all as my legs were tired but walking well. I had lots of time.Then we heard that John was out, Damn it I thought as I knew how much he had put into his training this last year and after a super start I was gutted he was still out there. Kim and Mark were a bit ahead but all I was thinking was get to the 222km mark in under 50 hours which was the cut off. The sun finally went down and I made it in 45hrs 20 mins.
I was super stoked to be here in plenty of time and had planned a hour sleep here. First was a medical check up where I got the news that I wasn’t good, Now I was great and feeling great.The doctors first took my oxygen levels which were a little low but within 30 seconds I had them way back up and said “ see doc I’m fine” they listened to my lungs and said they wanted me to rest. I was already going too so didn’t think to much of it but wasn’t happy as they looked worried.
When I woke after that hour the all came in and checked me again to then say I cant go on! I was shocked and silient, I felt great and couldn’t understand why.They reckoned I had a bit of water on the Lungs which isn’t a good thing but I felt great. I was a bit dehydrated I think and red from the sun I had but when they said I couldn’t go on I was so sad.I said to Rajat I felt great and I think the doctors were making a mistake, he was on the border to let me go on but had to listen to the doctors and for the safety of me he said he wanted me to rest. I WAS OUT.
I said to Rajat I wouldn’t fight his decision but said he was wrong. I just sat there, me, Kavin and Stanzin were gutted. We didn’t say anything and just sat there thinking why and that we had this race. We had planned to walk the rest of the race basically and we had time to do this. 111kms in 26 hours was a perfect time.
So we slept until 7am and hit the road to go find and support Kim and Mark who now where the last 2 standing. We got to them at Rumptse which was the base of the Tanglung La, The boys where now 60kms from the finish. No one had ever done this before and I was there to help them get there somehow. They looked good for being out there so long. Not much sleep and probably not enough food but something was pushing them.
I joined Kim who was leading and we chatted about what had happened and how he was. The higher we got the harder it got but he is so strong and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. His crew Taylor was amazing and she paced him and kept him going. She was still going strong on only a few hours sleep.
Almost everyone involved in the race was out there cheering the boys on and hoping just hoping they would make the top so then they could do the last 30kms down to the finish.
Mark was strong on the climb and he boys hugged as mark passed Kim 10kms from the top. Mark hit the top and was looking so strong and it looked like he would be the first to the finish. He started to run down and ticked off the kms towards the finish.
Then Kim hit the top and he was so tired but still smiling and doing so great. A quick photo and hugs from everyone he headed down the hill trying to keep up with Taylor who was pushing him and pulling him to the finish.
When the shock news came of Mark had gone down, He had gotten super cold and was feeling bad. Kim was getting stronger as he went down but no running was happening but wasn’t needed as he could do it in the time aloud without running and after 67 hours on his feet walking was amazing.
Then the news came that mark was out, so so sad as he was at the 322km mark. Only 11kms from the finish line. Oh shit we all thought. Now it was one guy Kim from Denmark was on his way to being the first person to ever run this far at this attitude in this time. The atmosphere was amazing, everyone praying that he would do it.
Taylor was flying and dragged him to the finish, Everyone set up the finish line on the Moray Plains in the middle of nowhere and waited for the 3 little lights to come over the last little raise.
They had done it and crossed the line in 71hrs. Truly amazing to be there and see my mate finish, The feeling was AWESOME.
We then all jumped in our cars and drove the 4 hours back to Leh and to Our beds. It had been a crazy 72 hours and we were happy to know that this thought to be impossible race was POSSIBLE.
I was 3rd overall for distance covered and well even through I was out at 222kms I had beaten my time from 2012 when I did 56 hours, this time 45 hrs 20mins so I was happy and had pushed myself like never before. Made new amazing friends and got to hang out in the Himalayas again and try something that hadn’t been tried before. I am very sorry I didn’t make the end but had super fun trying. I will return and finish this race. I love this race and Leh India.
I want to thank you all, New Balance, Fuel Me, VSKIN, Friths Plumbing, BUFF Japan, airSUP, Foot Trainers, Sev Sports, Nihombashi Nishikawa AIR, Recovery Service, DMS, Milf Sungalsses , Acubalance Acupuncture, the Gilbert & Frith Familys and all my friends and family who helped me get here and live another dream. You are all my amazing team and I hope we can continue to go around the world doing these adventures and helping people.
I will be adding more photos just waiting to get some from the event photographers.
Thankyou again for your support and I look forward to working with you all again for the next huge adventure – Running across the USA in 2015.Starts Jan 16th at Huntington Beach. Yes you can follow us and join us. You better as I don’t want to do it without you.
I’m so excited and can’t wait to start. Lets make it amazing together and help the kids of the 100 Mile Club.