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From A Pint In The Pub To The Foothills of the Himalayas – Tarne Westcott’s Journey To Ultra Success

From A Pint In The Pub To The Foothills of the Himalayas - Tarne Westcott’s Journey To Ultra Success Run Tri Bike

Photo Credit: Adrian Howes Photography

Sometimes your mates have a lot to answer for. Not everybody goes from a pint in the pub to the foothills of the Himalayas but we all have a story that is ‘similar.’

That extra beer when your other half is waiting at home. The peer pressure purchase you’re still not sure you really wanted. Or running a series of gruelling ultra marathons all over the world.

OK, the last option may be slightly more unusual, but it’s what happened to Tarne Westcott.

From Reluctant Runner to Ultra Enthusiast

A pub meet-up with his friend Dharmesh Mistry transformed him from reluctant marathon runner to 100-mile ultra finisher. It also became more than that. The meet-up led Tarne to go from a pint in the pub to the foothills of the Himalayas.

It also recently saw the pair of them take on the 123-mile, five day Capital to Country ultra, hosted by Go Beyond Challenge, which winds through Nepal’s undulating landscape.

It was a race at which Tarne, despite initially intending to simply enjoy the experience, would achieve one of every runner’s great goals: to win an event.

But this story doesn’t start in the shadow of the Himalayas. Instead, it sees Tarne and Dharmesh bantering over a pint – a discussion which would change their lives.

The ‘Bucket List’ Marathon:

“Dharmesh almost certainly told you he’s to blame – which he is,” Tarne said.

Running had always been part of Tarne’s life, from being a “quick and nimble” kid to becoming a “small fish in a big pond” after encountering faster children as a teenager.

As he got older, and put on more weight, running became a less common activity, but he decided to hit the ‘bucket list’ button that is the London Marathon.

“I hated it at the time,” he said. “I remember telling Dharmesh afterwards that I’d never run again.

“I found it excruciating. But a few years later, we met up for a beer and he said, did I fancy running with him to Brighton from London?

“So I said, yeah. I don’t really know why I called his bluff.

Almost before he knew it, Tarne and Dharmesh were training to take on – and then conquering – the 100km race.

“We had a great adventure, and it built from there really. We ended up doing that run and then did Country to Capital (Go Beyond’s 43-mile, Wendover to London sister race to Capital to Country) for the first time.

“We did another London to Brighton and then it just kind of accelerated.”

That gathering of pace saw the friends decide to enter one of the world’s toughest races, the formidable Marathon des Sables, a seven-day slog across the Sahara Desert which has garnered legendary status in the ultra running world and beyond.

With that challenge ticked off, a 100-mile race followed – “you can’t be an ultra runner until you’ve done 100 miles” – and running soon became an obsession.


The ‘No Pressure’ Five-Day Race

“We do a lot of running together now,” Tarne said. “Part of the enjoyment is getting to hang out. We have a laugh and put the world to rights.”

He said it was Dharmesh who sent him information on Capital to Country, and their excitement grew thanks to the remote nature of the event and its “completely different” outlook.

They would end up being two of just seven competitors who took on the intimate, inaugural race in late November and early December 2023.

Starting in the sprawling capital city of Kathmandu, the run winds its way through the Nepalese countryside. Athletes are confronted with steep climbs and eye-popping scenery.

“We’ve done so many events and some of them are very well established. Some of them are not so well established,” Tarne said.

“But, we’re comfortable running in different situations and different environments, so a lot of that apprehension that might go with running in a new area or a new terrain doesn’t exist for us.

“We’d had a couple of tough runs, which hadn’t really gone to plan and the opportunity to do something with no pressure was great.

A Surprising Victory

“I don’t mean that in a negative way, but there really was no pressure with signing up to Nepal. We planned to enjoy the adventure, enjoy the experience, soak up the scenery and the views, and enjoy every day.”

Despite those plans, Tarne couldn’t help himself once the race began. When fellow runner, Helen Ramwell, another distance athlete Tarne has run several events with, blasted into the lead from the start and took first place on day one, his competitive juices began to flow.

“Helen is very competitive,” he laughed. “She loves a good old competition and a good old race, and I genuinely mean that

“We’d gone out there just to enjoy it, but I found myself on the first day, quite by accident, chasing Helen down.

“Before I knew it, I was moving quite comfortably and thought, why not?”

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Chance To Win:

Tarne wasn’t able to catch his rival that day and “of course, Helen was loving the fact that she came in first. and it kind of set the tone and I almost couldn’t help myself.”

Ultimately, it was Tarne who would come home first in the overall event: “It felt a bit daft, but I suddenly thought I could do quite well.

“I wasn’t really going out to kill myself. I was mindful it was hot and we didn’t know the course at all for any of the stages. Although the support was really good, you could never really be sure how long it was before you’d see them again.

“Every day that goes on, you’re starting to run on fumes more and more because you’ve only got a certain amount of food each day.

“I didn’t really have any aspirations or expectations about coming in at the front, but once it got to Friday, I knew I was absolutely in with a chance. I had to avoid not finishing the race to do it and, of course, I was never ever going to get a chance again in my life to say I won an ultra.”

Unfinished Business At UTMB:

Tarne said although he hadn’t done many multi-day ultras before Capital to Country, he actually managed to pace the race better than some one-day runs.“I think I’m pretty good at judging how to make sure I can get to the last few days all right,” he said.

“Maybe that’s because I didn’t push hard enough earlier on! Or maybe it is genuinely that I’m good at managing myself and knowing where to draw the line.

“A lot of the races we do have been single stage and they’re very demanding.

“I’ve had three attempts at UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, the 108-mile – 174km – trail race through the Alps) and it absolutely kills me that I haven’t managed to finish that race yet.


Preparation and Expecting the Unexpected

“I know I’ve got it physically, but I’ve had a mixture of bad luck and unfortunate circumstances, and it just destroys me.

“But, as I said, those daily marathons in Nepal were great.”

Tarne, who has his sights set on a fourth tilt at UTMB, said practice and careful preparation are vital when preparing for ultra events. This stands true for whether they are one- or multi-day races.

But he also admitted that however well prepared you are, it is important to expect the unexpected. Everything from injury to inclement weather can combine to knock runners off course.

He said: “You can rehearse and practice all you like, but things can still go wrong.

“Prior to Nepal, we were running from central London out into Hertfordshire on the Friday nights leading up to November. through the rain. It was just miserable running with heavy packs.

“So really everything is automatic by the time you come to the run, you’re well drilled and you’re well prepared.

“And you can only leave the day itself as a surprise. What’s going to unfold? That’s how we typically approach most of the runs we do.

“Everything needs to be automatic. Your kit, the food you’re going to eat and so on – and then you’re leaving only fate and circumstances to dictate how well you do.”

Good Days…And Very Bad Ones:

Tarne said every ultra runner has been “caught out” at one time or another, with luck playing a part on what are “very long runs”.

He added that he takes on such challenges to test himself. He wants to see how far he can go. “Sometimes we’ve wanted to do a really fast time or see how fast we can run 100 miles in, but you can only do that when you get perfect conditions and if everything falls into place.

“We’ve had some good days and some very bad days, but we never ever race other people. It’s always just about ourselves.

He said the days of himself, Dharmesh and others challenging each other to go further and faster have come to an end. With that being said, that hasn’t stopped them doing extreme races

“We just make the most of it, because we have busy lives, with work, families, and personal stuff going on.

The Healing Power of Running

“It’s nice just to meet up and go for a run and chill out. Running has very much been, in the last five plus years, a form of healing and therapy for us both.

“Not that we’ve had any crisis going on, but it’s a nice way to switch off from the world.”

It is that desire to find peace through running which drives Tarne. Rather than any desire to run a super-fast marathon or break personal bests.


The Allure of Adventure Over Speed

“Dharmesh and I have both trained hard and done the fast marathon, or our version of a fast marathon, over the years“But that’s not for me now. I love the whole adventure of events like UTMB.

“It’s not an ultra run as such. It’s a survival activity, a mental survival activity.

Nepal: A Race to Remember

“And that’s what drew me to Nepal. It was very different. It was almost like a holiday, it was genuinely a break, with some excitement and the chance to see a new location and incredible terrain in the mountains.

“We all loved that. It was so beautiful. We were very lucky to have experienced it.”

* Wherever your (healthy!) peer pressure comes from, why not let it guide you in the direction of the Capital to Country Multi-Day Ultra. The event will return to Nepal between November 25 and December 1, 2024 – why not sign-up to create the memories of a lifetime?

From A Pint In The Pub To The Foothills of the Himalayas - Tarne Westcott’s Journey To Ultra Success Run Tri Bike
Photo Credit: Adrian Howes Photography
From A Pint In The Pub To The Foothills of the Himalayas - Tarne Westcott’s Journey To Ultra Success Run Tri Bike
Photo Credit: Adrian Howes Photography
Craig Lews - Running Tales Podcast and Substack

Craig Lewis is a former journalist and broadcaster from Northampton in the UK.
An enthusiastic but distinctly average runner, he is the co-founder of the Running Tales Podcast and Substack newsletter, which aim to tell the extraordinary stories of everyday runners.