New routes for 2018
Everything changes, yet again! This is the 13th Annapurna 100. There have been several iterations of the routes in the past responding to road building, the time of year in which the race has been held. Two years ago, a principle was formed to “run towards the mountains” so that everyone who comes to run the Annapurna 100 gets the best chance they can to see the spectacular Himalayan mountains in front of them on the course.
The 50 km course finished in Sikles, a small, traditional village on a hillside in a spectacular location. The 100 km continued over a forested pass to Ghachok. Both had limited accommodation, which limited the size of the race, and 50 km and 100 km course runners were separated. So despite the courses being enjoyable, hard challenges, we’ve looked at new options and come up with this pair of new courses. If you’re going on a recommendation from a past runner, don’t worry, it’s going to be a great experience.
Race area: Mardi Himal
A quick introduction to the race area. This is the Mardi Himal trekking area and this is where you’re going to be running! Given the altitude at the locations shown on the link above, it is much more likely to be fast walking, which perhaps gives you more time to appreciate the views while above the tree line. Yes, we go to just over 3500m and yes this is high, but there is no real need to acclimatise before the race, you’ll only spend an hour or two at this altitude before descending again.
Note that both trails presented below are close to what we want but we know there are some refinements that can be made to improve the experience further. Participants will be updated about any changes but it won’t change substantially.
2018 50 km route
Race course data here: https://tracedetrail.fr/en/trace/trace/52127
Course profile and description
One thing you will notice in Nepal is that the hills and mountains are big. The rivers that flow away from the mountains cut deep. This means if you want to get close to the mountains in Nepal, you have to do some climbing.
From the start you get some traversing descent on trails and tracks. This is a great warm up and the first 13 km will pass easily. You meet a section of jeep track which lasts for about 4 km which facilitates the small amount of climbing you have to do.
Most of this section is lightly shaded by trees and passes through several farming villages.
18 km to 30 km
We (you) are lucky with this course in that you get 90% of the climb done in one go. How lucky! But this is a monster of a climb, almost 2000m of unrelenting climb in a tangle of forest. At about 26.6 km you come out of the forest – it ends abruptly – and you’re above the tree line. That means if it is clear, you’ve got some amazing views. As mentioned, you will notice the altitude so can take this section as a hike.
30 km to finish
After taking some time (and pictures) at the checkpoint, you have 2000m to descend over 22 km. Some of this is slightly technical in the forest and some is going to be nicely runnable. It’s going to be hard on your legs, same some energy for a stylish finish.
2018 100 km route
Race course data here: https://tracedetrail.fr/en/trace/trace/52379
Course profile and description
The first 30 km follows the same route as the 50 km for the same reasons – good runnable start, a single big climb and some early morning running above the treeline. Then the 100 km route diverges. It’s mentioned above, but just to repeat, the Annapurna 100 is pretty hard and it is not just a easy run along wide trails, but quite wild using many narrow foot trails with a lot of elevation change.
30 km to 40 km
You follow a different descent to the 50 km route with an amazing long descent to the village of Siding. From above the treeline, you descend into deciduous forest on small trails known as the “Ram Puri Highway” after our friend who tipped us off about this trail, eventually coming out in grazing pastures. Beautiful.
40 km to 46 km
But then you still have not run down the ridge which is a highlight for the 50 km runners. That’s a shame, so back up you have to go. This is part of the race that may be adjusted to find the optimal trail climbing back up, but this will be a small change maybe reducing the climb slightly and distance by a kilometre at most.
46 km to 74 km
This is almost all the way downhill, passing through the start / finish at about 64 km.
74 km to 95 km
We take you along the Seti river for a short time, then to Ghachok – last year’s finishing location – and through rice fields and fairly flat village trails
95 km to Finish
Some uphill to do on the first trail of the race, and home to a rapturous welcome hopefully!