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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 165 > Running Everest

Running Everest

Feeling fat and unfit but aspiring to do something ‘magnificient’, author and adventurer Alice Morrison signed up for a six-day ultra marathon on the Everest Trail

This was my moment. I came round the corner, out of the woodland with my heart pumping hard and my breath coming short because of the high altitude and there, silhouetted against a cobalt sky, was the towering, ice-white peak of the world’s highest mountain, Everest. I savoured it…‘I’m running round Everest,’ I thought. Tears welled but didn’t spill and I smiled as hard as I could between panting breaths, then dug in my poles and trotted on. Six months before, I’d signed up for a challenge which, when I registered for it, I knew I couldn’t do; a 160km, six-day ultra marathon in the Himalayas with 15,000 metres of climbing – the Everest Trail Race (ETR).

I wanted to do something magnificent; that would force me to get really fit and pull me out of the lazy, rather greedy lifestyle I had embraced over the past year. I am not a good runner but ultras are as much about sheer grit as they are about gazelle-like legs, and I am a determined person.

To accomplish this goal I’d set myself, I knew I had to take drastic action. I moved from my home on the beach in Essaouira in Morocco to a hamlet above Imlil, in the Atlas Mountains, so I could live at altitude to habituate my body to it and train on the peaks. I’m so glad that when I set out I had no idea how hard it would be. It’s definitely better to be positive and optimistic, then realise the full horror of what you’ve done when it’s too late and you have no choffice but to carry on!

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