Nepal Trek And Everest Marathon In Star Phoenix

Today’s Star Phoenix had an article about about my upcoming trip to Nepal, trekking to base camp and the Everest marathon.

Imagine trekking from Saskatoon to Regina, then immediately running a marathon when you arrive.

It’s a daunting thought for most.

Now, picture hiking that distance at an elevation over 5,000 meters higher than the banks of the South Saskatchewan.

There are 16 brave souls from Saskatoon whose soles have been hitting the Prairie flatland in preparation for a 200-kilometre trek through the Himalayas. Three from the group will then line up at the starting line for a marathon, 5,356 metres above sea level, at a Mount Everest base camp.

It was eight months ago Tami Ellis, a physical therapist, was lecturing on injury prevention at the local running shop Brainsport The Running Store. She told the group about her plans to travel for her fourth time to Nepal for the marathon, and asked if anyone else was interested.

“It just started as a tiny idea and just became bigger than us,” Ellis said, sipping coffee by her fireplace, joined by group members after a run in temperatures that dipped to -41 C.

When Holly Lindberg, a City of Saskatoon firefighter, heard about the journey that would take her over two mountain peaks, across a pass and end up at Everest base camp, she had to partake.

“I was like, ‘Wow, we have to do this.’ “

The marathon commemorates the first successful ascent of Everest by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. The first 200 kilometers of the trek will be done over 18 days and to acclimatize the marathoners to the altitude.

But how does someone train on the pancake-flat Prairies for extreme altitudes in a mountainous region?

“It’s not easy,” said Dan Anderson, a lawyer in the city, who is one of the trekkers.

Being from Saskatchewan, the group may be vertically challenged but they make up for it in mental toughness — they have to brave the extreme winter here in training.

“There have been challenges, but with the group, it’s just so much fun,” said Clint Svensrud, a mechanical engineering technologist, who is taking on the mountainous marathon.

Most members didn’t know each other before committing to the trek. Now they’re a close-knit group of adventurers.

“I feel like I’ve generated friendships for a lifetime,” Ellis said. “I think I’ll be close to these people forever.”

Some of the trekkers train together two to three times per week and rely on each other for inspiration. The group comes together for monthly meetings to discuss topics including equipment and Nepalese culture. They’ve also taken road trips. This weekend they’re heading to Alberta to ice climb.

The expedition begins in May and wraps up almost four weeks later. The marathon begins May 29.

The group is also raising money for the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada, which helps fund Nepalese hospitals and schools.

The group’s goal is to raise $5,000 for a remote hospital, which they’ll be visiting on their journey.

The trip’s $4,000 to $5,000 cost is coming out of each participant’s pocket.

And there’s already talk of another trip. Mount Kilimanjaro,” one person suggested, while another pitched Machu Picchu.”

Blackstrap anyone?