Ultra trail runner, Ryan Sandes, was the first person to win all four races in the 4 Desert Series and in 2013 became the first person to ever win an ultra trail race on all seven continents. At the beginning of 2018 Ryan and his friend and fellow adventurer, Ryno Griesel, set a new trail running record on a section of the Great Himalayan Trail through Nepal. This is his story...
Adventure is what drew me to trail running. I’ve always loved venturing into the unknown, so I treat races as adventures rather than fitness tests. The Greater Himalaya Trail (GHT) was the ultimate adventure I hoped to do one day. An epic mountain trail spanning the Himlayan mountain range, it would be the toughest challenge I had ever taken on. My buddy and fellow trail runner Ryno Griesel wanted to do it too, so we talked about it and decided to make it happen. Nine months later we were tackling the GHT together.
Running with someone else there’s the realisation you aren’t just looking after yourself; you have to also look after your partner, and you don’t want to let them down and vice versa. That was a concern. When you run on your own it’s much lonelier, but having two people doubles the risk of injury.
Growing up in Cape Town we didn’t have access to big mountains, so we were outside of our comfort zones in the Himalayas. I was intimidated by the high altitude. Another concern was whether I would be able to go the distance. And finally, being away from my family for so long was quite a daunting process, especially having a young son.