21 February 2012
Travelling all the way to Nepal may seem like a long way to go to run a marathon, but for Maureen Archer it was well worth the journey. While many were preparing for Christmas, Maureen was taking part in the Everest Marathon - the highest in the world with a starting point 5184m above sea level, just below Everest base camp.
Along with the six months of training, fundraising was a key part of Maureens journey. Maureen raised over an amazing $4,000 for charity, with half going to the Everest Fund to promote health and education in rural Nepal, and the other half to support cancer research at the Malaghan Institute specifically melanoma research.
I am very grateful for all the sponsorship as my husband Denis died as a result of a metastatic melanoma in his brain, and any funding that can help research in this field is just so worthwhile, says Maureen. My daughter Kylie also raised $4,000 for the Institute when we completed the New York marathon two years ago and this was a great way to continue our familys support of the work the Malaghan Institute does.
Maureen says the biggest challenge was getting to the start line and acclimatizing. They achieved this by trekking for 12 days on rough tracks and steps - including a visit to Sir Edmund Hillarys school village. A typical day saw the group of around 60 people being woken at 6am with bed tea, getting their bags out by 6.30am for porters to load yaks, breakfast at 7am and on the track by 8am. After stopping for lunch at noon they were back on the track until around 4.30pm when they then sorted their tents, unpacked their bags again, did their washing (both clothes and themselves in freezing cold rivers) and finished up with dinner.
We were very fortunate that the weather behaved itself and was actually about 10 degrees warmer than normal, but still very cold as soon as sun went down and our washing was instantly frozen solid, says Maureen. The coldest night we had frost on the inside of tent and outside of sleeping bag when woke up just as well I was sleeping with my wooly hat on (the one my seven year old grandson said I wasnt to wear anywhere else but Nepal).
Maureens group was joined by 23 Nepali runners at the start line, at minus 6 degrees us mere mortals were in hats, jackets, thermals, they had shorts/ shirts and took off like rockets which at that altitude is very hard to do.
After a couple of days at Namche Bazaar we had a very long day trekking back to Lukla to catch the very small plane back to Kathmandu a very chaotic city which certainly grows on you. What an adventure - I would recommend it to anyone.