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Runners complete gruelling Everest marathon

The Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon marks the first conquest of the famous mountain every year.

Image: David Cheskin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

MORE THAN 150 hardy competitors braved the rarified air and bone-chilling temperatures of Mount Everest today to take part in the world’s highest marathon.

The Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon is part of annual celebrations marking the first conquest of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) summit on 29 May 1953, by Edmund Hillary and his sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

The race starts every year at 7am in Gorak Shep, close to Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 5,356 metres, and finishes around 2,000m lower in the town of Namche Bazaar.

The atmosphere at base camp contains only half as much oxygen as at sea level, meaning runners find themselves gasping for breath even on the slightest incline along 26.2 miles of narrow, rocky mountain paths.

Organisers describe the route, which passes through Buddhist monasteries, monuments and over suspension bridges, as “probably the most adventurous trail run in the world”.

The temperature at the start this morning hovered around freezing.

“We had 93 foreigners and 62 Nepali runners. This year was our tenth anniversary and when we started we only had two foreigners,” organiser Shikhar Pandey said by telephone from the finish line.


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“The race is a pioneer for adventure tourism in Nepal and it’s a new thing. Nepal is such a beautiful country and now more and more people are into trail running and we have really tapped into that market.”

The winner was Phurba Tamang, a Nepalese runner who completed the race in three hours, 41 minutes and 31 seconds — just 11 seconds slower than his winning time two years ago.

- © AFP, 2012

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