Wild Running in Nepal’s New Mustang Mountain Trail Race

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An eight-day stage race to explore new cultures and your mental strengths and physical limits

Photo by Jamie McGuinness

To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to. —Kahlil Gibran

Sometimes we need an out-of-the-ordinary experience to offer perspective, to reinvigorate us and perhaps to give us the chance to rediscover our motivations.

This spring, from April 27—May 10, 2013, the inaugural edition of a multi-stage trail-running challenge will traverse the enigmatic trans-Himalayan landscape of Mustang in Northern Central Nepal. The tough journey will cover 277 kilometers over eight stages. Daily distances will range from 20 to 40 kilometers, at altitudes between 10,000 and 13,000 feet.

Arriving first in the dusty chaos of Kathmandu, you will have time to adjust to the different landscape, maybe find a sunny terrace squeezed between the crowded streets and world heritage sites. Two short flights (to Jomsom via Pokhara) and you will be transported away from the dusty streets and barking dogs, and into the heart of the mountains. The soaring peaks of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri offer a stunning backdrop for the start of your journey.

Mustang: just the sound of the word conjures images of a harsh yet beautiful landscape, full of cultural and religious heritage. This wild, spiritually rich ancient Himalayan kingdom holds a mystical allure. An enclave of pure Tibetan Buddhist culture, the region has only been open to tourism since 1992. But with construction of a new road through to Tibet soon underway, this area will change markedly in the years to come.

Along the course, you will encounter holy sites, remote villages, canyons, mountains, cave monasteries, grazing pastures, surreal arid landscapes, caves with Tibetan Buddhist paintings, labyrinths of bizarrely contorted crags, a walled city and the longest mani wall in Nepal.

The race will provide gifts of portable solar lights to a remote village often overlooked by tourists.

Mustang will be a journey of mind, body and spirit. There will be moments when you feel like you can run forever, and moments when you feel like you can’t take another step. There will be nights when you are too tired to talk at dinner, yet awake the next morning raring to go. There will be mornings of hard efforts on the trails, followed by afternoons basking in the sunshine. You will have moments of being entirely alone, but many more shared with new friends. Your body will grow stronger; your mind will grow quieter. This is the essence of multi-day stage racing.

Photo by Jamie McGuinness

For more information, visit mustangtrailrace.com.

Richard Bull, the race director, lives in Kathmandu, and is the founding editor of trailrunningnepal.org.

Lizzy Hawker is five-time winner of The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and holds the world record for 24 hours (road).

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