Discover Nepal and its spiritually rich landscapes at the Mustang Mountain Trail Race

23 Jul 2013 09:53
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview


Hello, on April 12th 2014, you’ll be organizing the Mustang Trail Race. Can you tell us where it is located?

It is in a remote part of Nepal in the Himalayas, just north of two of the highest mountains in the world, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, up against the border with Tibet.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

We ran it for the first time this year (2013) with a small number of participants. It is a place just aching to hold a running event – let’s call it a trail journey.

There are so many cultural sites like monasteries and caves, as well as historic villages and an ever-changing variety of landscapes, that it is natural to connect them together by running on the trails between them. And the trails are good too, having been used by pilgrims and traders for centuries. Additionally, a jeepable road is being constructed in the region that may soon change the place for good.

Nepalese front runner Upendra Sunuwar trailed by Lizzy Hawker
Credit : Mustang MountainTrail Race

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

There are eight stages all at altitudes that are pretty high, from 2,900m up to about 4,200m and we keep the distances ‘reasonable’ because of that ranging from 20-30 km per day. The point is to race, or use it as back-to-back training for an ultra, while still being able to enjoy the incredible sights and absorb the ancient way of life going on here. You can check for some amazing photos.

How many runners do you expect? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

For this kind of race / journey we keep it a little small with a maximum of 30-40 runners. In 2013 we had top runners Lizzy Hawker, Holly Rush and Ryoichi Sato (Japan) as well as completely normal people out for a challenge and a good experience.

Lizzy Hawker runs through the fields of Tanggye
Credit : Mustang MountainTrail Race

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

The weather is usually really good and stable in April, with many blue skies and warm enough for running in shorts and t-shirt.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

No – sometimes there are local festivals, but dates are not announced until a few months beforehand, so let’s see.

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Nepal before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

The list is endless. It’s nice to relax for a day in Pokhara by the lakeside, but the real attraction are the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Kathmandu, and seeing the old parts of the city.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Mustang Trail Race?

If you’re a trail runner, and have ever thought of visiting Nepal, then now’s your chance to combine both things in a very memorable journey.

Front Runner Lizzy Hawker hammers the climb
Credit : Mustang MountainTrail Race

Interview with Richard Bull, race director.