Sonya Looney Yak Attack Nepal Race Report and Interview

Race Coverage

Stage 8: Manang – Phedi

It was cold this morning at the start. We had a bowl of porridge and toast for breakfast. We all sat on the thrid floor deck in the sun (and freezing) until the start. I had the most clothes on today so far – leg warmers, knee warmers, arm warmers, short sleeve jersey, buff, and a long sleeve jersey.

The start was tough. Lots of fast, steep hiking. It started to even out and I could ride for awhile, but then I had to walk.

I had to carry a lot in my backpack each day. I stuffed it with everything I needed for the race, and a bunch of clothes and extra pair of shoes for when I finished since the porters would take several hours longer than us. Normally, I’d carry gortex jacket and pants, Adidas Adizero running shoes, down pants, down jacket, a dry wicking tshirt, a hat, and socks… or else waiting for the bags to arrive was a bitterly cold experience. It only took once for me to start carrying all the extra stuff.

It was tough at the altitude. I couldn’t make my legs go so I sang Dire Straits to Cefin who was behind me (and later overtook me). I rode most of the day around Gareth.

The trail was bench cut and really fun, but the altitude made it really tough to ride.

Definitely losing the “spunk” I normally have. It shows in this video.

One part was a sketchy landslide!

Today, there were 3 suspension bridges. One valley we went through had some really hairy yaks. It was really cool to be in a valley at 14,000′ surrounded by huge mountains and a deep, blue sky. 11 miles took me 2 hr 49 min! I loved the course and terrain today. I think it was my favorite. I had a raging headache when I finished.

Phedi sits at almost 15,000′… (and the flush buckets in the bathroom were frozen. Imagine that joy)

Jeff was out there for a very long time. We got word someone turned around and I had a lump in my throat. I found out it was Craig who was also sick. I walked down the trail to see if I could find Jeff. With each footstep, my head throbbed. I didn’t see him down the trail.

Jeff came in after several hours, moving slowly. Jeff slogging in.

The view around Phedi (which is basically just a hotel) is so insane. One of the mountains is a huge glacier. I was thankful that I could sit in awe and enjoy it. The crew at Phedi.

Jeff was not in good shape after he got in. He was coughing nonstop and looked terrible. I felt deeply saddened to see him like that and to know the disappointment he is feeling. The docs are trying to convince him to take a yak over the pass tomorrow. We had a chat that I did not want to have, “Is going over that pass worth risking your life over?” -NO. He is pale and weak. By the end of the night, they had given him an IV and he was so weak he could barely move.

Absolutely heartbreaking to watch…and even more heartbreaking for him.

I feel bad leaving him tomorrow, but Gandhi said he’d take care of him. I must keep going.

My alarm is set for 2:30 AM. Our start is at 4 AM. Tomorrow I face my fear. Can I make it up and over 17,769′?

Yak Attack Stage 8 Gallery

Yak Attack Stage 9 »

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