The flight to Lukla

boardingluklaFlight 2019 Blog

After a day of preparation we finally arrive at Kathmandu Airport getting ready for the three Lukla flihts that Bhai has somehow arranged - he must have amazing influence as the Lukla flights have been moved. The threee flights took an hour or so to collect all the runners, support staff and bags, It was fantastic to be in the mountain air! All 3 flights had stunning views of the mountains. The Lukla flight is always as experience and despite some alarming turbulence over the main (and critical) ridge, all 3 arrived safely and without too much delay.


A welcome cup of tea preceded the begining of the trek to Phadking at 2610m.

luklagathering 2019 Blog

We have Arrived!

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After several months of planning we are here! Today is the final day of preparation before we fly to Lukla very early in the morning where the trek can truely begin. Briefings have happened, medicals carried out and last minute shopping all complete in readiness for a multi-day acclimatisation trek followed by the world's highest marathon. The guiness book of records notes that this, the original everest marathon now in its 37th year, is officially the highest marathon in the world. Be prepared for an experience few can match!

Buying final medical supplies and arriving in Kathmandu

ritikay 2019 Blog

Today most people arrived safely and despite all the traffic being halted again so that the president of Bangladesh could leave his meeting without delay, the large group mainly arrived relaxed and in good time for kit allocation, group meetings and a most welcome and excellent dinner.


The day allowed for final stocking up on medical supplies where Dr Milligan was able to find a reliable Nepali stockist of the last minute drugs such as Acetazolamide (Diamox).  The whole trek and marathon are supported by 4 doctors, 2 in each team as well as 2 team leaders, Bhai's excellent Nepali guide team, sirdars, cooks and porters.


The hotel Shanker have provided outstanding accommodation and support and we are proud to continue our association with them.






Original everest marathon Kit allocaion  

One of the first jobs is to collect the trekking kit that we provide which this year includes:

a purpose made kit bag for the Yaks and or Porters to carry on trek

emergency survival bag SOL

route and race maps

trekking drinking cups - Ultimate direction

long sleeved light weight thermal - RAB

short sleeved running t-shirt - Craft and Up and Running

1 tube of fisiocrem for aches and pain relief

as well as Down jackets and sleeping bags for those who hired them from Bhai


Original everest marathon Kitallocation

Welcome to Kathmandu

Original Everest Marathon visits ThamelNamaste from Kathmandu. 

Steve, Wendy and Ali arrived following very smooth flights from Manchester via Muscat and into an amazingly empty KMD airport. It's been re-developed and is far more welcoming, efficient and devoid of the chaos of the previous trip. The lovely people from the hotel were there to collect us in a car for 4 - obviously unaware of  the number of bags we would have - medicine rucksacks as well as well-stuffed bags full of OEM t-shirts for our Nepali trekking staff.

The Shanker has been fully restored to its former glory after the damage of the earthquake, and the entrance and reception are stunning. The garden looks in tip-top condition and the pool is a decent temperature, especially in the heat of the hours around midday.

It's been so lovely seeing the first of the OEM crew start to arrive - Bruce and Julie from Australia and Isobel, who has been staying in Thamel for a week and become a 'local'.

We walked into Thamel and re-learned the routes to the best places to change money exchange, buy a SIM card and visit Shona's (outdoor equipment shop). We found prices far higher than previous years 

It's only 10 minutes walk into the northern part of Thamel but Kahmandu continues to become ever more bustling and over crowded. Such a mass of humaity squashed into such a small place; a bit of a shock compared to our rural cumbrian home, but exciting and vibrant nonetheless.

Returning to the hotel we met up with Devon Loughney who's brother Scott is attempting to set a FKT for the run from Kathmandu to EBC and return to Kathmandu.

Lizzie Hawker ran the route from EBD to Kathmandu in 2013 in 63hrs 8mins but no one has yet done the up and back


We're hoping we might see him on route but this can only happen if he's way behind schedule.

Our afternoon was finished off by a wonderful massage by the blind masseurs at Seeing Hands. We've made a provisional booking for a large group on 5th December, when we get back from Lukla. There'll be some tight legs to soften up.

After a walk back to the Shanker in rush hour, it was wonderful entering the calm oasis of the hotel, which is  particularly stunning at nght.

OEM at the SHanker by night



The OEM is Nigh by Matt Gemmell

It's hard to believe that it is over a year ago that I posted Why Enter the Original Everest Marathon?  and with the event looming large, I thought it was time to take stock.

Original Everest Marathon

It has been an incredibly quick year for me and the time has flown by. My training has been excellent and although no-one has ever stood on the start line of a race and felt happy that they had done enough, in truth I've done what I aimed for and hopefully it will be enough. My mileage is very slightly up but my height gain has increased and my mantra of "hills are your friend" has continued to ring true and has been regularly hash tagged in my Facebook posts.

And talking of races, I have not run a single race in the last year. Technically I ran Glen Ogle 33 in November 2018. When entries came out for Glen Ogle and friends were getting excited, I said "No, I've run it two years in a row, I'll marshal." I did, but ended up with sweeping duties, ran the whole route and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So although I have not raced, I re-discovered 'fastpacking' and combined my love of running, trekking and camping into one activity ideally suited to building endurance.

I had some great adventures and fastpacked  the Loch Lomond and Cowal Way and the Affric Kintail Way utilising my new free bus pass to great effect.


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I also ran the Ring of Steall route, but this just intensified my growing feelings that I did not want to race. The day I ran it I had a perfect bright, but cool late winter/early spring day and never met a single person the whole day on the hill. Contrast that to running it during the Skyline Scotland event where around 900 people run the race. No, not for me, I'm quite happy to go and work at it - which I did again this year.


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The only other race that I have entered is the Spine Challenger in January 2020 , it will be a month or so after the Original Everest Marathon. It might not come as a surprise that although I have entered and paid, I have had agonising doubts about whether I want to go and the pendulum has been swinging wildly. I have only once DNS'd a race due to injury and my feelings about the Spine Challenger are very confusing and most peculiar.

I'm just not feeling the love for running races with lots of people but have been loving my self-imposed wilderness challenges and relishing the peace, quiet and tranquillity of my beautiful surroundings. I'm running better than ever, am fitter than I've ever been, without feeling the need to be motivated by races. I seem to have achieved a state of self-motivation and I'm really enjoying my running.


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I'm not saying there will be no more races but they will be fewer and carefully chosen.


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???? Colin Harding

But back to Everest. This has never felt like a race but simply an expedition with a run at the end. For me racing does not even come into it and although some will be racing, I'll be happy to toddle along and finish. I am so motivated and looking forward to going and cannot wait.

I have already made friends with other folk taking part via the participant’s Facebook group Particularly Geoff from Wales and Julie from Australia and I know there will be many more friendships made, as well as cementing these.

I have steadfastly refused all the #runeveryday type things and given my aging body plenty of rest and recovery. I have taken up yoga and although I'm the class dunce, I'm really enjoying it and it is benefiting my running.

Tight ankles, hips and calves as seen in your average ultra-runner do not translate into successful yoga but it does what I need and Diane my teacher at Loch Lomond Yoga is very patient  and understanding.

yoga 2019 Blog


My fortnightly massage routine is still there. I wish I could say it was deeply relaxing and soothing ..... instead of excruciatingly painful with pathetic yelping. But again it is doing what it is meant to. Ailie at The Haven is ferocious but lovely!

This has all meant that my recovery is something near miraculous and I am training longer and harder than ever but recovering quicker and easier. How long can this last? I have not even had to visit Shona my physio at Just4physiotherapy but will be proudly wearing my ambassador t shirt.

Interestingly I have had far less need to buy new kit for Everest than for the Spine. Probably because in some ways the weather is a bit more predictable. At one point I thought about buying the commemorative down jacket proposed by Ali the Race Director but I didn't need it and not enough people wanted to buy it, so it’s back to my trusty and venerable RAB - old and a bit heavy, but still serviceable and well proven.

I did invest in an OR down hat as a wee treat as the RAB has no hood. And it looks the business even if I look stupid in it.  Should be toasty. It weighs 31g. I looked at expensive gloves and finally plumped for standard issue German Army waterproof insulated mitts at £20 from Amazon. A reviewer said he tried them in Baffin Island in 60mph winds and -30°C ...  sold !  A quick home improvement with some wrist loops and hey presto, ready to go 

There really has not been much more kit than that bought and certainly nothing that is out and out for Everest. From a shop-a-holics point of view, not the most exciting prospect but when you already have the gear why waste money.

I did have to buy a new camera after yet again breaking my Sony RX100 while running. It just wasn't tough enough to keep up with me and suffered from damp twice and was resurrected before succumbing to shock after falling gently from my race vest. I've replaced it with the new Olympus TG-6 which is allegedly shock and waterproof. But is it Matt proof?  Only time will tell. Photographs are going to be a big part of this adventure for me and an excuse to stop and catch a breather as I (hopefully) acclimatise.

So apart from some toiletries and medications like paracetamol and tons of throat lozenges I'm just about ready and although my bag is not packed, it is all stacked in a corner of my study, virtually ready to go.

A slight complication is that I have chosen to take part in the WEMSI  week long first aid course at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore to hopefully become a Wilderness First Responder which  will really benefit my race marshalling.

Fundraising has started too and it is virtually a condition of entering the OEM that you fundraise for Community Action Nepal (CAN) the charity started by Everest mountaineer Doug Scott and which is now inextricably linked to the OEM and it's raison d'etre.

I get the train from Balloch to Manchester Airport on the 14th of November where I'll meet up with organisers and participants. We initially fly to Oman and join up with a London flight with more participants and then on to Kathmandu.   Ooooh! Exciting!

I will probably maintain radio silence whilst there but lookout for posts and photos when I come back.

A couple of days ago I read an interesting article talking about the teahouses on the trails in Nepal. It talked about trekkers and the first thing they did was whip out their phones and get on to social media via wifi. All very well but sitting next to you could be Sherpas or others who have climbed Everest multiple times and who have fascinating stories to tell.  That moment will only happen once, so social media can wait.

The only concern, which has been there all along, is how will I react to altitude and will I successfully acclimatise?

There really is only one way to find out and I'll do everything I'm advised to and will take things very easily and hopefully I'll be fine.

"The Man in the Arena" is ready to enter the arena again, wish me luck !

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2019 Event Blog

evaxyx Sponsors the OEM



RAB Sponsors the OEM

RAB and the OEM





Up and Running Sponsors the OEM

Up and Running and the OEM


Injinji Sponsors the OEM

injini and the OEM





Ultimate Direction Sponsors the OEM

Ultimate Direction and the OEM


Pete Bland Sports Sponsors the OEM

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