Monday, 13 October 2014

Where in the World am I actually going?

I've had people ask me if I'm going to Nepal, or Tibet. Well the answer is neither. So where EXACTLY am I going?

The whole of the Himalayan 100 takes place in the Sandakphu National Park in an area of India known as Sikim. We'll be in India the entire time, not going into Nepal or Tibet. 

This area of the Himalayas is sometimes described as the 'Forgotten Tibet' and isn't as widely known for trekking. Which seems a shame, as Sandakphu is apparently the only place in the World where you can see 4 out of the 5 highest mountains at the same time... Mt Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu - and the views look breathtaking. The event website describes it like this:

'The 100 mile course traverses through isolated jungle, pine forests, small settlements and villages and across major rivers. Yaks, wild ponies, and the Red Panda are seen at higher elevations. At each overnight stop, meals are fully catered and accommodations are in rustic mountain huts. The race is most often described as the “Most Scenic Race in the World” that offers panoramic views of the world’s highest mountains. Sightseeing in the Darjeeling area includes the famous Himalayan Mountaineering Museum, Toy Train, and important Tibetan monasteries'.

So tomorrow (how did that come round so quickly?) I'll be flying out to Delhi, then on Wednesday onwards to Bagdogra airport. We'll then travel onto a Mirik Resort in Darjeeling, take a tour of the tea plantations and the Toy Train (which is apparently the highest train in the World) then on Saturday the race starts. I'll just gloss over that scary bit for now... 

See the little yellow 'lump' at the end of Nepal with the red star indicating Kanchenjunga? that is Sikim and is still part of India. And that's where I'm going. After the silliness of running 100 miles is over - and provided I'm still walking/alive/discharged from hospital - we are being treated to a tour of the Taj Mahal thanks to India Tourism. This really is going to be an adventure of a lifetime.

Excited?! ermm.. just a bit. And top of my list of things I HAVE TO see? A Red Panda. I wonder if I'll be able to squeeze one into my suitcase to bring home?  

Friday, 3 October 2014

Himalayan 100 kit list

Forget the running.. the kit list for this trip is taking over my life. The recommended clothing, equipment and medical list from the organisers runs to two full pages of A4 and has everything from suncream, to a woolly hat, waterproof jacket to sunglasses, superglue (!?) and a cream in case of 'buttocks rash'... (although rather ironically - thanks to my ileostomy - that could well be the only item I won't need - but then that comes with a whole other host of issues)... it goes on, and on, and on and on.... And that's before I even think about my supply of electrolyte drinks and medical supplies. 

In Delhi the current temperature is 38 degrees and in the Himalayas it will drop to sub zero at altitude. I'll need to pack for every imaginable eventuality and I'm the sort of girl that likes to be prepared. 

I might as well just charter my own plane. 

In terms of specifics, I thought I'd share some of the things on my kit list for the event itself. Being a running journalist we get to test and share almost everything that comes on the market.. which in itself is a really cool thing and makes me a very lucky girl. If you're considering an event like this or just looking for some ideas, then hopefully you might find some of these recommendations useful:

Shoes: Brooks Cascadia 9. Perfect for the rough trail with enough cushioning for the distance. I love these shoes. They've served me well on the Jungfrau marathon last year and never give me a blister. Plus Chrissie Wellington wears them.. is there a better recommendation?

Socks: I'm slightly worried about my addiction to compression socks. I've tried them all and never run without them now. I find they keep my calf muscles together and without them I break. My favourite is the CEP Run Sock 2.0 (especially in pink) - I'll be packing 5 pairs. One for every day.

Hydration pack: Again I've tried them all, but I come back to the Camelbak Marathoner time and time again. The 'vest' style works really well, with plenty of room to store snacks in the front pockets. It doesn't rub and the 2l bladder is big enough for a marathon.. or four.

Drink: I discovered SOS rehydrate earlier this year and I find the higher level of electrolytes is perfect for me. It's not very well known yet, but it should be. It's classed as a medical ORS (oral rehydration solution) but marketed as a sports drink - I have no idea why no-one has done that before now - I've been recommending dioratlye to marathon runners for years. Great for really tough events, very hot days and excellent to rehydrate you if you're feeling a bit green around the gills after a marathon or half.  I'll probably alternate this with Powerbar IsoActive just for flavour and a bit more carbohydrate.

And at the end of the day (providing I'm not vomiting) I'll be reaching for some Apres Hot chocolate. It was a lifesaver for me earlier in the year in the Thunder Run, so I'll be packing a case. Plus it tastes really good. If you've never tried it, then you're missing out!

Bra: Running 100 miles will certainly take it's toll on my poor boobies, so having a really good bra is essential. Again I've tried all sorts over the years, but my favourite is the lesser known Anita Extreme Control. Really soft, doesn't rub and doesn't have that 'get me out of this now' feeling to it. 

So that's just a few of the key items I'm taking with me, next blog I'll go through a few more.. Planning ahead, using tried and trusted kit and being organised is vital. As my hubby says 'Proper Preparation Prevents P*ss Poor Performance'... lets hope so!