WRITTEN BY Simon Hollis | 30th May 2017

I’m a 50-year old (only just) ultra runner from England. I live in a small town called Broughton, with my wife of 15 years and two lovely children. I heard about the Great Himalayan Running Festival from a Facebook advert in March, when the word  ‘hell’ in the title immediately caught my attention.  I’ve been training for the event since, with at least 6 days of running, strength training, treadmill speed work and yoga at least 6 days a week, as part of a healthy lifestyle that I try to keep.

I’ve been interested in running since my teenage years, and my interest grew during my time in the army, and then I continued this interest even afterwards, starting to participate in races about 12 years ago. The first ultra I ran was a 100K from London to Broughton in 2012. Since then I’ve participated in a 15 ultras, and countless half marathons and 10Ks. Strangely, I’ve never raced a full marathon till now, and I’m quite excited about the 5 consecutive full marathons that I’ll do as part of GHRF. My wife however does not share my enthusiasm, since I struggled the last time I went up to 3500 meters.

My goal is to explore the 4 key elements of the earth- dry heat, humidity, altitude and cold. So far I’ve completed Marathon Des Sables, and the BTU Amazon Jungle Ultra – the GHRF will tick the third category, just leaving the cold.  Running has really contributed to my life – helping to keep fit and avoiding falling into the middle-aged trap of illnesses, and mentally helping me to keep a clear and focused mind.

To prepare for the conditions at the event, I have rented an altitude training machine (possibly the most expensive item in my personal race costs) which I hope will help me deal with the challenges on the highest highway in the world. I feel that this event is really quite unique, providing a great experience and beautiful landscapes at great value-for-money. It’ll also be nice to run in this event while its just starting out, before this becomes a popular elite event. I’m also positive that my participation in the Great Himalayan Running Festival will encourage more runners from England to try out this race and terrain, since this has a great potential to up your game as far as long distance running in challenging conditions is concerned.