La Ultra - The High : Can you run this high?

02 Aug 2012 18:00
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview

§staticmap(9038,3,450,250)Hello, on August 2nd 2012, you’ll be organizing the La Ultra – The High. Can you tell us where it is located?

LA ULTRA takes place in the high Himalayas of Leh, Ladhak, in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, India. The route includes crossing 2 of the highest motor-able mountain passes in the world, Khardung la and Tanglang la.

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

The idea was conceived in 2009, while doing a 21 Km run from Manali (6,000 ft) to 11,000 ft (short of Rohtang Pass). With the dream of doing crazy ultras around the world but soon stepping into shoes of an entrepreneur, lead me to the thought of creating an even tougher challenge in the brilliant location of The Himalayas. That’s when in 2010, THE HIGH was born.

View near Khardung La pass (around 5400 meter) in Ladakh
Credit : Rajesh
What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The route is brutal. Starting 11 km outside of Khardung Village, at approx 14,000 ft, the route ascends to an altitude of 17,700 ft (Khardung La) before descending down to 11,483 ft (Leh) then climbing up to an altitude of 17,583 ft (Tanglang La) before the descent to the finish line at 15,000 ft (Morey Plains).

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

We have a very stringent process of selecting runners. Applications are huge in numbers but not all profiles sit in right for this brutal race. This year 13 of the best in the world with some serious running experience would be coming and participating for the 222 Km ultra. A running experience at a high altitude run, with great temperature variations and greater distances are a few basics to begin with.

Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances?

We would be organizing a 10 Km, 21 Km and a 42 Km run in the Leh region on the 28th of July, before the LA ULTRA commences. Runners from India and abroad along with local community of Ladhak would be taking part in this category. We aim to familiarize runners with high altitude running.

Credit : Stan Dalone
At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

July and August being the peak Monsoon months in India bring some amount of precipitation to this high altitude cold desert, in form of rain and snow. The winds can vary from 30 to a 100 Km/hr and bring in serious snow storms with temperatures dropping till MINUS 6 degrees Celsius. With the sun out and low wind speeds, temperatures can also climb up-till 40 Degrees Celsius.

Have you planned festivities around the race?

Our shorter distances are more open for locals to come and celebrate running and learn more about running as a sport and activity. We conduct a crew and participant get together dinner after the 222 Km run and celebrate the feat these best of runners achieve.

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

This high altitude desert is majestic and magical. In the recent years it has attracted more tourists in India than any other place. The region hold beautiful trails for trekking and camping. It is home to huge fresh and salt water lakes, a sight to see. It is also an amazing experience to spend time with local families here and understand their culture and way of life.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the La Ultra – The High?

This race is incredible! Come and experience what not many have and not many can.

Interview with Dr. Rajat Chauhan, race director.