I’ve been home nearly a week now but Annapurna, and Nepal, feels like a lifetime ago. Was it really just two weeks ago that I realised the weather gods were conspiring against me and the opportunity to run the circuit would need to be put on hold for now? Making the decision to not carry on was easy, it was obvious, the hard part is coming to terms with what that decision leaves.

A sunrise boat trip to the start of my run

A sunrise boat trip to the start of my run

Plan B, C, and D

Upon descending from Pisang, the high point on my trip around the Annapurna Circuit, I knew I wasn’t done. I still felt strong, I still had an energy I needed to explore, and I had flown halfway around the world; I wasn’t going to waste it.

Nepal is world famous for having wonderful hiking and trekking, and more recently people are starting to run there. A new website, trailrunningnepal.org, is full of inspiring stories of both international and local runners with organised races and advice on routes fit to burst. This approach is breathing a new life into the trekking routes as the amazing infrastructure on the main treks means that you can go very light, sleeping in a bed each night and eating cooked food to refuel tired bodies.

Armed with enthusiasm and local route knowledge I set off on several short and single day runs in and around Pokhara, Nepal’s second city. The running was truly remarkable with views that are second to none. Not as steep as the Chamonix valley, the trails offered rolling hills that packed a huge punch. Whenever I was struggling, all I had to do was look up and see the massive Himalayan giants towering in the distance, and I would find the inspiration to dig a little deeper, push a little harder, and keep going.

A dawn run

A dawn run

Plans B, C, and D were wonderful, though much shorter, trail runs but I had set out to run something that would challenge me on so many levels and that was not gone. I felt deflated. I felt like I was drifting and didn’t know how to shake off the funk. I had been speaking to Sophie regularly and hearing about all the amazing skiing she was getting done in Chamonix and I started to really miss home.

On the phone that night, I decided, though it was incredible here, I just wanted to go home. I wanted to be with Sophie and I wanted to start thinking about how I can return. Yes, there is most definitely unfinished business with Run Annapurna, and I want to come back and test myself against the circuit properly.

10km run with a view

10km run with a view

Good still came out of the adventure

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the whole trip was a failure, that it wasn’t worth it but I know that is wrong, some amazingly good things came out of it too.

Personally, I learnt a huge amount. Spending two weeks almost entirely alone gave me plenty of time to think and I have started to formulate an exciting plan for my future. I also was able to use that time to really take in all of my surroundings and not be distracted by outside influences.

The training and dedication I needed to get myself to square one was eye-opening. I train a lot but I’ve never used such a structured plan before and seen such results. It’s true, hard work really does pay off – thank you Steve!

I was able to meet some of the most wonderful people in the world. I don’t think it is uncommon for people to come back from Nepal and talk about the amazing people there, but I was amazed. While in the mountains, all you could hear was people laughing, talking, and sharing. The children would be running around with massive smiles on their faces, their parents keeping a watchful and admiring eye on them from a distance, and all of them beaming at my very poor attempts at speaking Nepali. I was touched at just how much everyone appreciated life, it was beautiful to see.

Whilst I was there, I had the fantastic opportunity to try out some awesome kit from Haglofs, Power Traveller, and Led Lenser with the LIM sleeping bag keeping me very warm at night, the Explorer solar panel allowing me to make friends during power cuts, and SEO head torch lighting my way on dawn runs.

The World Peace Stupa

The World Peace Stupa

As I have said above, I will be back and, no doubt, I will see this trip as a recce for the real deal. What struck me was the fact that, almost immediately, I knew I would be coming back to Nepal many times in the years to come. There was something incredibly special about all aspects of the country from the crazy chaos in Kathmandu to the peace and tranquility in the mountains. A friend told me, before I left, ‘you never just go once to Nepal’. She is right, it is the beginning of a lifelong relationship.

Wide Open Vistas and Climbers Against Cancer

I have been truly touched by the support and generosity of everyone with the charities I chose to support. The money raised for Wide Open Vistas is enough to support one child going to school for nearly 3 years. This will have an unimaginably positive impact on their life and I can’t thank you all enough.

I’ve also had loads of people sharing their photos of themselves sporting the awesome Climbers Against Cancer t-shirts, spreading the word and providing invaluable funding for cancer research, support, and more.

Both of these groups have long roads ahead of them and I look forward to supporting them further in any way that I can.

What next?

This is a big question and one that will likely take me a little time to come up with an answer but I know that going back is something I really want to do. I also want to start putting into place some of the ideas I had while on my own on those rolling, neverending hills.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all your support, kind words, and messages.

 

by Charley Radcliffe

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