It may sound strange but when Emily Moore took on the extreme challenge of a five day, 123-mile race through the foothills of Nepal it was the culmination of a story that had started 28 years previously. In her five-day trek Emily found herself walking back to happiness, which came about what seemed like a lifetime ago.
Capital To Country: A Grueling Start in Kathmandu
Starting in the sprawling capital city of Kathmandu, the event winds its way through the Nepalese countryside. Athletes are confronted with steep climbs and eye-popping scenery.
It was a landscape Emily recognized. She first visited the region as an 18-year-old. That trip saw her make memories and friends to last a lifetime. As an adult and walking back to happiness, she would add to those memories.
From Divorce to Discovery: Emily’s Personal Crossroads
“I’ve always wanted to go back,” she said, “but life did its thing and got in the way. “Then, two years ago, I got divorced. It was one of the hardest periods of my life and with two young children to look after, and a busy job as a teacher, there wasn’t much time for me. “I wanted to do something to rediscover Emily, and this was perfect for me.”
Choosing to Walk: A Twist in the Ultra Marathon Tale
For Emily, the unique nature of an ultra marathon taking place under the watchful eyes of the Himalayas was given an extra twist when she decided to power-walk the entire route. An experienced Ironman triathlete, her decision to walk the race was born out of two factors. This power-walk would be her walking back to happiness.
Firstly, she had run flat out at what turned out to be a gruelling Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultra last October. Secondly, she is planning to run the Marathon des Sables (MDS), the epic six day, 250km romp across the Sahara Desert that is described as the toughest footrace on the planet, and walking seemed the ideal preparation.
“Towards the end of the race in Scotland, which my friend and I finished in something of a mess, we were being overtaken by walkers,” Emily said. “That sparked a thought in my brain that I might be better off walking, especially as I’m hoping to take on MDS in the near future.”
Emily continued, “With the heat of the Sahara, I don’t think I’ll be able to run too much of that race. And so, walking seemed like a good idea all round. I’ve been experimenting, spending the summer wild camping and sleeping on the North Northumberland coast.”
Emily’s race began at Kathmandu, Nepal’s bustling capital city, and headed through 27-miles of jeep tracks, tree covered hills and breathtaking views on the way to a remote camp at Kasibanjayang at the end of stage one.
Race Highlights: Flowers, Temples, and Nepalese Blessings
Over the following days, the Capital to Country passed through the ancient home of the Temang Empire. The runners were greeted with garlands of flowers and cheered on by excited locals, and presented the challenge of seemingly never-ending elevation.
Each day, right up to the eventual finish in the remote but welcoming surround of Lamaland village, Emily purposefully strode forward. She was a determined race back-marker and one who always beat the sunset.
Emily said: “I managed to finish each day with the sun still in the sky. Only a mere hour-and-a-half or so behind those running the course. More importantly, I had a very different event from the other runners. Along the way I went to a Nepalese wedding and visited temples.”
Friendships Forged: Bonds Beyond Borders
Emily’s journey even saw her make good friends with the event’s tail-walker. This friend was a Nepalese man who proudly showed off important, local buildings including where he went to school. As they passed the charity-run establishment, where his brother works as the headmaster, children appeared at the windows and then flocked outside to meet the strange runner from the other side of the world.
“They rushed out and gave me a blessing,” Emily said. “I’m not sure what they threw on me. I smelt like Turkish Delight afterwards, which really was a blessing. I’d been smelling like a dog for days. The event, the views, the people and even the pain of ultra marathoning all combined to make this the trip of a lifetime. I feel privileged to have been to Nepal. To have seen the country and to have taken part in this fabulously unique, friendly race.
Reflections: A Trip of a Lifetime and Finding “Emily”
“And most of all I feel privileged to have met some amazing people who will remain friends forever. Oh, and up in those beautiful hills I did one other thing: I found Emily.”
Whether you are walking back to happiness or running there, be sure that you are enjoying the journey. Looking to create the memories of a lifetime? Go Beyond Challenge and the Capital to Country Multi-Day Ultra will return to Nepal in 2024. The event runs from November 25 to December 1, 2024.