Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon
Each year on the 29th of May, intrepid adventurers gather at the Qomolangma (Mount Everest) Base Camp (5360 meters) in Nepal to pay tribute to Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary and to participate in the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, considered by many to be the ultimate international extreme sport event. These two mountaineering pioneers are believed to be the first to reach the summit of Mt. Qomolangma, which they did on 29 May 1953.
Due to its unique features, the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon has become a popular extreme sports event, drawing international competitors as well as competitors from around Nepal. Some of the unique features of the race include the fact that it is the highest altitude marathon in the world, beginning at an altitude of 5,356 meters at the Khumbu Icefall with the magnificent Mount Everest as a backdrop and incorporating Mount Lhotse and Lola Pass; the event follows the historical route pioneered by Tenzing and Hillary in 1953; the marathon route passes by monuments, monasteries (including the renowned heritage site of Tengboche Monastery) and suspension bridges. The route covers a distance of 42.195 kilometers, which is an Olympic standard, with breathtaking scenery all along the way, including the picturesque rhododendron forest and wild orchid grove.
The winner of the 2009 Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon was 21-year old Furba Tamang from the town of Lukla in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal, completing the race in 3 hours, 40 minutes and 47 seconds. Having been a runner-up in the 2008 event, Tamang was delighted to have achieved his goal of first place. In the female category, Shyan Kesho of the Indian Army claimed first place.
Heavy snowfall a week before the marathon threatened to jeopardize the event, but the more than 120 participants breathed a sigh of relief when organizers decided that snow had melted sufficiently for the marathon to continue as planned – which it did, with great success. Of the 52 foreigners participating in the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, 14 were from India, with 6 of those being members of the Indian Air Force. Nine participants came from Germany, eight from the United States, with England, Australia, South Africa and Romania also being represented. While the winners received prize money for their achievements, participating in, and completing, the race was no doubt a rich reward in itself.