Course Review: Himalayan Rush, a triathlon on the foothills of the Annapurna in Nepal
The 2016 was the 5th edition of the Himalayan Rush, the off-road triathlon held on the foothills of the Himalayas making it the ultimate destination race.
This year the numbers of participants were lower than in 2015 as it is also the case with the general number of tourists in Nepal, the reputation of being a safe destination hasn’t been restored fully after April’s 2015 earthquacke, despite Pokhara, Nepal’s most tourist rown being hardly affected by it.
Among the sponsors is the GHT (Great Himalaya Trails), an entity that aims to promote outdoor activities in the Himalayan, the organizers visualize this event as part of a holidays week long, when they would come, do the triathlon, then spend some time exploring the other activities the region has to offer.
GHT not only stands for the trails and hikes itself, which is the poster boy of the region (Everest Base Camp and annapurna base camp are world famous, multi day treks), but the GHT also wants to promote the idea that there are several activities to be done in the region such as mountain biking, rafting, shorter hikes, would be ideal to the participants of the triathlon.
The race was in Begnas a small village that is 30min drive from Pokhara, Nepal’s 2nd largest city, and the base city for most tourist exploring the hikes, climbs, and other outdoors activities in Nepal.
Getting to Pokhara is relatively easy with several flights from Kathmandu daily, it’s only a 40min flight and the airport is very close to Pokhara. On race day, the organizers provided a shuttle service to the race venue from Pokhara tourist area.
The organizers also provide bike rentals if you prefer to travel light, these are decent quality Mountain bikes that are used often on the local bike tours. Most athletes this year were either Kathmandu based locals and expats or some tourists that were in Nepal and heard about the event, making this a very low key event, just a bunch of nature loving people having some fun
The event also offered a sprint distance and a Duathlon. The course review below is for the Olympic Distance event
Out of the Begnas lake, the swim was a very straight forward 750m out, 750m back with buoys marking the way every 200m. The water temperature is surprisingly warm in the low to mid 20’s Celcius, but wetsuits are still allowed
A mix of flat and paved roads through local villages with some very technical and challenging uphills and downhills is the definition of the bike course. Despite the course being 70% on paved roads, Mountain bikes are a must for this event, as the roads are bumpy and the remaining 30% is your usual rocky and sandy surface.
The bike course will please both experienced and beginners mountain bikers, since the few but technical sections are technically very challenging, but often separate by a long ride on flat paved roads giving beginners a break and opportunity to enjoy the scenery. The bike course was very well marked and safe, traffic was controlled but not closed
The run course is a very straight forward, well marked, out and back, where after an initial (and final) 1.5km of flat road through town, athletes are sent to a dirt road and that is where the long and gentle climb starts up to the U-turn.
Through the run course athletes run past the local villages and plantations with the final 400m into the finish line being next to the dam where the swim was.
The race for 2017 has been confirmed, so mark your calendar and try something very special.
Race website: http://www.himalayanrush.com/
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