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What the Newcomers Have to Say

By Clare Morin

There is something magic at work as competitors prepare for the RacingThePlanet “roving” event in Nepal. The eagerly anticipated location for the self-supported footrace has attracted a record number of new participants - while half of the competitors are veterans of the event series, the other half are completely new.


Some of these newcomers are seasoned athletes who have participated in numerous endurance events, and say it was the opportunity to run in the Himalayas that struck them. “I don’t climb mountains,” admits London-based Charles Cartledge who has competed in the Marathon des Sables (2009), Sunrise to Sunset (2006) as well as seven city marathons. “But I have long wanted to go to Nepal.”


Jan-Peter Fimges echoes this sentiment. The German competitor has taken on the Comrades Marathon in South Africa three times and the Trans Alpine Run, and he says he has decided to enter this RacingThePlanet event because of the spectacular setting. “It is in Nepal,” he simply says. “I always wanted to go there, and now I not only get to go there, I’ll run there.”


Among the many athletes and RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts veterans there are a significant number of competitors who are new to endurance events, yet who are ready to break new boundaries and take on what may be one of the greatest challenges of their lives.


“I have just peeled my last remaining toenail off from the most recent NYC Marathon,” admits the British-based, Canadian competitor Adrienne Garrand. She points out that the marathon was the first endurance race she had ever attempted. “I've never been an exerciser; I was voted games captain at school as a joke. In fact it took me 10 weeks to get to 5K, 10 weeks to 10K etc., and I did it using an iTunes download.”


Adrienne says she was inspired by her friend, the endurance legend Annabelle Bond, who had mentioned the Nepal event to her. She was also inspired by how training for the marathon was changing her life. “I applied for the race even before I'd completed the New York Marathon because I wanted to keep the momentum going… I'm excited about the huge challenge, the destination, friends that will be there and the fact that I'm convinced it will shape 2011 in a similarly positive way as the Marathon shaped 2010 for me.”


Hong Kong-based Margit Henneig also came across this event through the admiration she has for a friend of hers, Karen Wei. “Karen has been trying to get me to enter one of these races for the last two years,” she says. “We run and train together and I thought I might as well work towards something as I'm out there for so many hours with her anyway.” She adds that, “the idea of running over mountains and not sand dunes, really appealed to me. Hong Kong is such a great place to train for that.”


Finally, for husband and wife team Charlotte and Allan Marson, running in Nepal will offer something beyond the stunning physical scenery; it’ll also be a return to their newly wed days. “It was after quite a few beers but even in the cold light of day it seemed like a good idea,” reminisces Charlotte of their decision to enter the event. “Neither of us has been back to Nepal since our honeymoon when we spent a fantastic week walking in the Annapurna foothills.”


Half of the competitors may be new but there is one unanimous agreement among them all – that the star of this event is going to be the setting, and of pushing themselves through the highest land on earth. As Canadian competitor Edward Chu puts it: “Combining a 250km race and being in Nepal its like putting challenge and mystique together.”

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