Sudip Kulung Rai emerged victorious in the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon held in the Everest region on Thursday.
Sudip, the winner of 2011 and the runner up of 2010 edition, secured the first position clocking 3 hours 52 minutes and 9 seconds. Bhim Bahadur Gurung (3 hr 53 min 58 sec) of Nepal Army and Suman Kulung Rai (4 hr 8 min 10 sec) finished second and third respectively as Nepali athletes once again dominated the marathon in the thin air of the mountains.
Twenty-six-year-old local lad Sudip from Solukhumbu district took lead in the last 10 kilometers. After finishing third two years ago, Sudip tried his luck in the 60 k in the last edition but finished fifth.
“I was not hopeful about finishing on top. But I had hoped for second or third position. I am really pleased to finish the race in the first position,” Sudip said after reaching the finishing point at Namche Bazar (3,440 meters).
The event is being organized by Himalayan Expedition every year on May 29 since 2003 to commemorate the day Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary conquered the Everest on May 29, 1953.
The world´s highest altitude long-distance race was scheduled to begin from the Everest base camp located at an altitude of 5,364 meters. But the starting point was shifted to Gorakshep (5164 meters), 5 kilometers ahead of the regular kick off point, because of heavy snowfall.
The organizers said that they could not stick to their plans as they were concerned about the safety of the runners.
Bhim Bahadur Gurung said that he could have won the race had he known the route properly. “I was in pole position for more than half the way. But I did not have much knowledge about the route as it was my first participation in the race,” he said.
Nepali runners also clean swept the women´s event. Ang Chuttin Sherpa (5 hr 8 min 5 sec), Mingma Lhamu Sherpa (5 hr 8 min 45 sec) and Lhahak Futi Sherpa (5 hr 22 min 00 sec) secured the top three spots in women´s section.
In the foreigners´ category, Polish runners secured the first and second place honors. Robert Celinski clocked 4 hours 39 minutes 39 seconds, finishing ahead of his fellow citizen Radek Serwinsk, who took 5 hours 43 minutes 5 seconds to complete the distance. Timothy Watson from Great Britain stood third with a timing of 5 hours 45 minutes.
Foreigner category winner Roberts said, “It was most adventurous and difficult too. One needs a lot of courage to compete in this race.” Robert had earlier participated in the marathon in 2005.
“I had arrived here to win and had trained for 45 days in the mountains because I wanted to acclimatize well.Nevertheless, I am extremely happy for the result because I achieved a record timing in foreigner´s category. This year the race was tough and dangerous. It was chilling cold for the last three days due to snowfall in Gorakshep,” Robert said, adding, “It was a wise decision to change the starting point to Gorakshep.”
As the starting point was shortened by 5 km, the runners took turn from Dingboche to Chhukum and back to Dingboche to make up the standard distance of 42.195 km.
The timing achieved by local folk Deepak Raj Rai (3 hours 28 minutes 27 seconds) in 2006 stands as the best ever timing of the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon till date.
60 K Everest Extreme Ultra Marathon
Nepali Army runner Samir Tamang defended his title in the 60k Extreme Challenge, which has been added since last year to celebrate the diamond jubilee (60 years) of the first ascent of the Everest.
He clocked 7 hours 17 minutes 55 seconds to better his last edition´s timing by more than half an hour. Last year he had clocked7 hours 56 minutes.
Hom Lal Shrestha finished second clocking 7 hours 38 minutes 15 seconds while DB Kulung Rai clocked 8 hours 26 minutes 20 seconds for the third place finish.
Karl David Turkovi of Australia secured the first position in half marathon. He clocked 3 hours 19 minutes 5 seconds. Belgian runner Geremy Kersten finished second with the timing of 3 hours 42 minutes 46 seconds. Australian female runner Amanda Ryan stood third with the timing of 4 hours 52 minutes 45 seconds.