Hawker is undeterred by Himalayan 'adventure'

Posted in Dishing the Dirt by Matt Ward on Wed 02 Nov '11

© Richard Bull

Whilst you enjoy a comfortable cuppa this morning, spare a thought for the courageous Lizzy Hawker. The recent news was sketchy. It wasn’t quite clear why she had abandoned her Great Himalayan Trail run. All we knew a week or so ago was that her date with the great trail was over, for now.

The story, it transpires, revolved around her taking a route through dense forest and ultimately losing her vital ‘communications’ bag, which also housed all of her documents. After having to dig deeper than ever before into her mental reserves, the North Face runner decided to err on the side of caution and halt the run.

© Richard Bull

Coffee time!

Full The North Face release

British ultra-runner Lizzy Hawker has had to cut short her goal to run the 1000 mile Great Himalaya Trail due to loss of communications, but accepts an invitation to run the gruelling 2011 Everest Sky Race.

Renowned globally for her ultra-race career and recent world-record run of 247km in 24 hours at the Commonwealth Ultra Championship in Llandudno, UK, Lizzy aimed to follow the Great Himalayan Trail across the breadth of Nepal from Kanchenjunga Base Camp in the east, to Hilsa on the western border with Tibet. Hawker’s expedition, named Sky Dance, was to cross Tibet country keeping close to trails through the high mountains, moving fast and light, with minimal support.

© Richard Bull

Having left Kathmandu on October 10th to fly to Biratnagar in the east of Nepal and a jeep journey north to Taplejung, Hawker walked to Kanchenjunga reaching base camp (5144m) on 13th of October where ‘Sky Dance’ started in earnest. Whilst making good progress across the Nango La (4776m) and the Lumbha Sambha La (5100m), Hawker temporarily lost the path between Thudam and Chyamtang, critically losing a small bag carrying her communications and permits. Reaching Chyamtang on 21st October, Hawker walked out via Num to Khandbari, taking a short jeep ride to Tumlingtar and return flight to Kathmandu arriving back on Tuesday 25th October.

© Richard Bull

Lizzie picks up the story:

“Things had started so well, I was making good progress and loving it. Then in a remote region between the Kanchenjunga and Makalu areas, I temporarily lost the path between two villages and got in a bit of a tangle in a big dark forest of Himalayan proportions. I needed to take my time to find the safe way down to the only bridge across the torrent below. Progressing through the jungle thicket is slow and painful work.

© Richard Bull

© Richard Bull

© Richard Bull

But what mattered was losing my small sack with all the important things – satellite phone, permits for my entire journey, solar panel, camera, money, compass, maps for that section etc.

© Richard Bull

© Richard Bull

On a journey like this communication is vital and without my hard won permits for the breadth of Nepal there was no option but to stop. The worst part was losing communication and knowing that I’d be causing so much concern and anguish at not being able to let people know that I was safe.

That is my deep regret. I felt very strongly the love and support from my family, friends and so many who were following my journey. This gave me strength in ways that I have never ever needed to draw on before.” reflected Hawker.

© trailrunningnepal.org

Hawker, undeterred by the setback and making the most of her time in the Himalayas, has accepted an invitation to take part in the gruelling 2011 Everest Sky Race beginning 30th October, a 200km journey (with 110km ascent and 70km descent) during a 9-day staged race from Dolakha through the Rolwaling Valley, crossing the Tashi Lapsa (5755m), Renjo La (5340m), Gokyo La / Ri (5350m), Cho La (5420m), ascending Kala Pattar (5540m) and finally arriving at the base camp of Ama Dablam (4700m).

© Richard Bull

Forging an additional challenge, Hawker will also attempt to run from Everest Base Camp back to Kathmandu, repeating the 2007 record run, which she holds with Stephen Pyke and Mark Hartell. Supported by the Nepal Athletics Association and joined by both international and Nepali runners at various sections, the goal is to encourage trail running in Nepal to inspire the wider population of the incredible value of sport in challenging mentally and physically.

Follow Lizzy Hawker through her Napalese journey through intermittent tweets

© Richard Bull

Reactions so far
  1. Paul Bateson Nov 3, 11:17 AM

    An unfortunate end to a great adventure but incredible to have all the important documents etc in one pouch and then go and lose it.

  2. Roger Henke Nov 5, 01:20 PM

    First report from the Everest Sky Race: Lizzy in the lead after four stages, ahead of the winners of previous editions, Jorbir Rai (2008) and Deepak Rai (2009). The really high stages are still to follow so this might change. Also, it is as yet unsure if the group can cross the highest pass on the route, the Tashi Laptsa (5755m) because weather is bad – the mess at Lukla airport will have been reported in the UK press by now.
    A female in the lead has never happened in the up to now 18 multistage races organized in Nepal by Frenchman Bruno Poirier.

  3. Roger Henke Nov 8, 03:04 PM

    Second report from the Everest Sky Race: the group has managed to cross the Tashi Laptsa and has reached the finish of stage seven, Gokyo Ri (5350m). Lizzy Hawker still leads the field but Jorbir Rai, the winner of the 2008 edition has come within seven minutes of Lizzy. Two more stages to go, crossing the Cho La (5450m), ascending Kala Pattar (5540m), to the finish at Ama Dablam Base Camp. Co-organizer of the Annapurna100 Richard Bull holds his own with an 8th postion in a field of 28 runners, just behind Sylvain Bazin.

  4. Matt MST Nov 8, 10:12 PM

    Thanks for the great updates Roger!


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