NAMCHE, May 21: Michele Ufer from Germany believes that enjoying the beautiful landscape of the Himalayas will help him forget the physical pains that he will have to endure during the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon 2011 on May 29.
The psychologist from Dortmund, who has been practicing sports hypnosis, says that “mental training” is one of the keys to success in adverse conditions.
Ufer has been counseling athletes for a couple of years, but he is here at Namche not as a professional runner but just to enjoy his holidays.
“What attracted me a lot was the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to know their culture,” said the robust young man of around thirty who came to know about the event from internet.
However, this is not his first visit to Nepal as he had come here 16 years ago with a group of German trekkers.
It is his first marathon but he says he has a good experience of participating in an ultra marathon in Chile some two months ago.
He recalls crossing the Atacama Desert, the driest desert extending up to 4000m above the sea level, of Chile in May where his positive attitude helped him finish the 250 km ultra marathon with flying colors in his debut attempt.
“I gave the suggestion to my subconscious mind to run in a relaxed way and it worked,” he said after finishing seventh out of 111 participants, many of whom were unable to complete the race. Out of the six stages that he completed in 35 hours, he says that his best ranking was fourth.
“It was amazing. More than what I could ever imagine. Knowing what to focus on really helps, but it is seldom practiced in sports,” he added.
“I don´t know how the altitude will affect us. There are lots of questions lingering but I´m very happy to be here,” he said.
The German is looking forward to organize trips for athletes in the future. “I am looking for cooperation to promote this sport,” he said.
Another participant Terry Abrams from the USA says participating in marathons makes her feel calm and strong. “It makes me feel peaceful. It gives me spiritual bliss,” said Abrams, who claims to have participated in about 30-40 marathons and 5-6 ultra races. “The physical aspect of the marathon meets the spiritual one. Both are the same,” she adds.
Her daughter Taryn Grahams is also accompanying her in the marathon. This is her third marathon and says she will be facing lots of surprises in the unknown and enchanting mountain trails.
Altogether 56 foreign athletes are at Namche on their way toward the Everest Base Camp from where the race will kick off. Six runners from the Indian army are expected to join the team on Sunday while Nepali participants are yet to register their names for the competition.
The marathon will cover a distance of 42.19 km along Gorakshep, Lobuche, Thukla, Dingboche, Bimre, Pangboche, Tengboche, Lausasa, Sanasa, Chorten to Namche Bazar.
Krishna Basnet, the race director of the marathon, says that the Nepali participants, mainly from this region, will catch up with the team later on as they do not get affected by altitude sickness.
The weather is adverse with Namche shrouded in a blanket of cloud and snowfall is reported higher up in the region but Basnet is determined to hold the marathon in the scheduled time while the participants are also enthusiastically waiting for the grand event.