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  • The first stage of the Himalayan 100 may only be 24 miles, but that road from Maneybhanyjang to Sandakphu is one of the toughest roads I've ran. It's a bit of a stretch to call it a road road at all. Truth be told its barely a trail.

    The climb is a little over 6,500 feet on paper, but taking into account the rises and falls of the trail snaking its way along the border between India and Nepal, its closer to 10,000. The climb of course is only part of the story, being in the Himalaya's (or Himalia as we're told its know locally), the start line was at a higher altitude than any i'd experienced. By the end of the day each step was a fight for breath.

    The day seemed to last forever. Rising before dawn and making our way in jeeps and then mini busses to the start, where we set off to the sound of drums, pipes and horns. The first few miles passing quickly as we ran through tea plantations, lined with prayer flags and where banners flapped in the wind. It seemed to be so magical, but as the day drew on the group grew further and further apart, and each mile seemed further than the last. There were times when I didn't know if I was going to make it. At one point I was sure I'd broken a leg, so acute was the pain of cramp, but I'd travelled half way around the world to be there and nothing was going to stop me getting to that finish line, even if it was after dark.

    Two things helped me get through that day, the first was the knowledge that so many of my family and friends were thinking of me (and that so many of them had given so generous to charities for my run), the second was the kid in this photo.

    It was towards the end of the day, I was tired and I hadn't seen another runner for what seemed like hours, then out of nowhere I could see someone on the track just ahead of me. It turned out to be a school child presumably on his way home from school. He seemed so young to be walking out there alone. I couldn't help but wonder how people could live up there, or to be impressed by anyone that could walk over these hills just to get to school each day, let alone to do it with a backpack of books. He looked as bemused by me in my running gear as I was by him in his wellies.

    He'd watched me over over his shoulder as I gradually caught up, then whistling and flicking his head in the direction of the trail he wordlessly challenged me to some sort of race. We ran together for a while, I don't really know how far we ran together, but those miles seemed to passed more quickly than any all afternoon. My new friend got me to the top of the next hill and down the other side as far as his village. His family and friends amazed to see their little boy running confidently alongside one of the western runners they'd all come out to watch. I should imaging he was the talk of his class for weeks.

    I don't think that I will ever forget that day or that little boy that ran with me in Himalia. In fact I met so many amazing people on that trip and made so many new friends, each with their own stories. The memories of which make me smile each time I think of them.
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