I have just noticed that I have not updated my website since I signed the ‘Golden Book’ of that famous Bavarian village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen but life has not really given me a reason to write anything interesting….until last Sunday that was. On 12th July my friend Chrissie Wellington, the current Ironman World Champion, broke the world record of the Ironman Race in Roth in Bavaria. She finished the course in 8 hours, 31 minutes and 59 seconds and broke last year’s time of 8:45:48 achieved by Yvonne van Vlerken from The Netherlands.
I was very lucky to be able to share this moment with Chrissie – she is an amazing athlete, who works very hard for her success and achievements. We met in Nepal and spent a lot of time mountain biking together – well, sort of together as I never managed to keep up with her. In 2005, I biked from the Tibetan capital Lhasa to Kathmandu with her and four other friends and Chrissie normally had to wait for us for hours on end. She has always been amazingly strong and I am so proud of her that she is so successful in her new profession! She is also convinced that I could finish an Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a full marathon run) but I am sure that this would be too much for me. I don’t even think I could run a marathon!
However, I will attempt the Zugspitz Run together with my friend Richard this Sunday. It is a 16km run up the highest mountain of Germany, which is right at my doorstep and I have to admit that I have never walked up it. In order to compensate for this loss I decided to run up rather than walk up, however, I have just had a look at the participants’ list and most people seem to be professional mountain runners. So I will not attempt try to race them – I will just do it for fun!
Unfortunately, last year’s race turned out to be a bit of a disaster. Two runners died of hypothermia and seven participants had to be treated in hospital for the same condition. The reason for their demise was the fact that the weather turned bad and the competitors ended up in a full-blown snowstorm. Only this week, the organiser of the race was sentenced to a fine of 15,000 Euros as he was made responsible for the disaster.
Due to the fact that I have become a bit of a ‘household name’ in Bavaria since I climbed Mount Everest, the media spotted my name on the participants’ list and contacted me to find out why I was taking part and what I thought about last year’s dilemma. It is really difficult for me to say whether the organiser should be made responsible for the accidents. Maybe he should have cancelled the race due to the bad weather forecast, however, I think that every mountain runner should have enough experience to check the weather, and either cancel the race or take the necessary precautions, i.e. take warm clothes.
This year’s weather forecast is not that great either and temperatures are predicted to drop down to minus 5 degrees Celsius on the top, so I will make sure that I have warm gear with me and a second set of clothes for the summit. Let’s hope that it will not be that cold!