Wednesday 25 September 2013

Thank you evening invitation

As a thank you to all our supporters, you are invited to an informal evening recounting our exploits as we participated in the world’s highest marathon:

The Mount Everest Marathon
on Monday 30th September
at 7.30pm
in Ballyclare Town Hall

As well as presentations from us, there’ll also be coffee and nibbles, a brief thank you and explanation from Stand by Me on how the funds raised will be used to help transform the lives of some children in Nepal.

Everyone welcome, please come along - we’d love to see you

Andrew, Ralph, Richard & Robert

To see the latest fundraising total visit:

Tuesday 4 June 2013

adventures planned and unplanned

Mon 3rd
Another 5.00am start and its Celts away. Debs and not so big George and the three of us hit Tribhuvan airport for a gradual reintegration to first world comforts. Even RK and his galvanised bucket of a digestive tract is feeling slighly green ...looks like the Kathmandu quickstep as he skuttles off to the bog.

Sun 2nd
5.30am like a scene from apocalypse now the big beast rose over the runway horizon...look at the it huvvers was another classic Dougism. Farewells to friends Addie, Mann, Bindra, Gaji (sorry about the spelling lads) Survived further blatant exhibitionism as Atilla desecrated the unnerving last resting place for another crashed Himalayan plane.
Impressive noise and downdraft from the rust bucket. International relief on take off and spontaneous applause as we landed in a livestock field. Sultry heat cracking toast and eggs ...things were looking until the bus arrived ...mmm. Team player rob was ferrying big bags up from the feed trough to the bus miss placed footing on a slippery stepping stone valiantly fought to recovery to finish ten toes in the air trapped on his back like a gassed up auld ewe...sorry to report it was a German bag that got dunked ....every cloud...
Within 30sec it was clear the bus was easily  the most extreme undertaking since entering Nepal. Steep switch backs, landslides, single track, no handbrake, zero leg room, Bollywood and horn looked like an epileptics trip to Kathmandu. Brief rest bite to empty bladder and underwear. 7hrs of all over body massage and the big smog of KTM appeared as twilight fell. Relief to enter the oasis of the shanker hotel. Finally we could think of home. RG whistlestop spree in Thamel where he was sitting duck for shop keepers. RK&A had more wit. A final delicious but bus lagged meal. Hugs and emails exchanged. We had met some great people enjoyed high, endured lows and the craic has been mighty on the way. Sincere thanks to you it's has been a privilege.

Sat 1st
After an encouraging first light rain and cloud enshrouded Lukla hightening tension and rumours of stuck for a week, missed slots back of the queue, 400 trapped with no food water. Sensibly Raj was absent to work the problem leaving opportunity for Kangaroo coffee shop courts like side show Bob to mobilise the minions and spoil every flat white in earshot. Units of time involving food was our plan to avoid going stir crazy with Yatzee as back up. A was straight in rhythm snickers pause bun pause mars. Rk was wisely waiting while Rg was emersed in blogsnorkling. People watching as folks lost the plot became entertainment. Attillas hen night europop disco almost killed off old Christof...along with the rest of us. Interesting to observe miraculous recovery of Eva Braun to the tones of like a virgin. Doubting Thomas became a troublesome truck with his mind as pickled as his dress sense I demand a shower every 3hrs and a 5 star hotel in Lukla.
Learning the next oman air flight was both 4 days away and full a sense of gravitas set in...steady hoofed Rk advised patience. Murdock, Face and Hannibal Raj had a plan not the Luftwaffe but 1975 Russian M17 millitary evacuation helicopter would shuttle us on batches of 25 to the road head at Jiri for a 6 hr bus ride to Kathmandu all for a fist full of dollars. All internal flights in Nepal had been Cagrounded due to 2 crashes that day explaining the silence inspite of improving conditions. Debs George and Caroline rejigged their contingency plan with Trotters independant copters. Another unrolling of the sleeping bag for what we all prayed would be our last night in Shangri la ...Lukla style. Thankfully night watchman Doug openned the port cul lace before John had the windows in chaperoning Tim and Paul after one too many lemonades

Fri 31st

Monjo to Lukla was our last day trekking slightly fairer skiers gave hope to getting out Lukla. Trek finished its been a great bunch to spend time with. Seeing other groups factions and rifts we have been most fortunate. Groups who couldnt see beyond their own noses. george contimplated suicide as Gloria Gurner joined us for lunch with her top ten gripes...incredible what some folks expect inspite of how well we cared for in such primative circumstances. A la carte dinner was chips beans fried egg and bread to the horror of the Catalans.

Crew tips and gear were distributed with a demo in efficiency for the long winded and wingy swiss .....including star attraction of Percy pigs. Sirdar guides and porters are the heroes who make this trek possible.

Thur 30th
Breakfast was like a paraplegic shell suit convention. As the rain lashed the price of ponchos rocketed. 2 ultra runners staggered in after overnight stay in yak sheds and even a cave .reassurance 42k was extreme enough 60k was just wrong. Pictures of George's blistered feet quickly ended the feeding frenzy. A 3 hr tramp to Monjo was subdued until Nepals answer to. Colombo and side show Bob started into karaoke.... solutions ranged from dead leg, Chinese burn, diddy nip or a wedgy.


Wed 29th race day
2 yrs in the planning and finally here. Buffet breakfast aka free for all was paused as 28 ultra runners left ...the Nepali military making light of the ice clad loose rock. We did well to survive the tramp to the start line thanks to cantankerous yak aiming a kick at big George...hoots man
700am start after another Buto balls up. Debs was a vision of an SNP cheerleader. Like a slow motion scene from braveheart big George led the celts out of basecamp with RK wheezing a meddally of ice ice baby flower of scotland and the sash.The Jelly baby nature valley feedathon started 745.

RK grafted up to The half way point with the tank empty. Fluids, gels and quick lesson in JBs as nutrition. Having been up on RGs prediction the hard earned gain ebbed away as fatigue set in. The formation of choice was A setting sensible pace with RG shadowing RK with a menacingly sharp trekking pole. It was working as we passed the king of India and General Mao but not enough to pick off Attila the hen. Gelling pup for the very unpleasant climbs to come. Flash back to 2008 mera peak summit day where Monty returned an essential gel as unfit for purpose ie it wasn't opened! Thankfully we all manned up and self openned....troopers. RK climbed like Messner as we topped out for the last trot home we swept up team mate Rob having "the worst day of his life"
As mist and rain enshrouded us it became a typical Norn iron training session. Finally Namche emerged from the gloom one final turn to an eerily deserted finish area. 10 hrs 48 mins of hard labour. Respect to A&RK on first marathons esp RK epic effort. Kata, medal and shell suit gifts we were ready to for a night out in .....Liverpool. Hobbling back to the lodge the final stairs were almost too much. A warm welcome home from team mates Sub 10hrs were Doug, Tim and one legged Hyo Sub 9 were Mike, Paul, Richard. However John set the bar high with a stunning 7hrs23mins. Caroline was home 20mins ahead of the paddys. Greatest cheer for Angela, Debs and big George. The team was all in safe as Joan and Isabella completed....and so to a rock free, dry, warm bed...out like a li....

Tue 28th
Base camp life seemed much easier with a bit of viz and brightness.
Amazing effort to feed 120 runners in shifts in this harsh moonscape.
Mock race scheduled for 900am right under the cracking Khumbu icefall what a place to run a race.
SbM banner in as many pics as possible. Last years winner paraded an Olympic torch while like lemmings hell bent on mass injury we followed instruction on an ineffective announcer who looked like BenazirButo on a bad lippy day.
Further team fun with a snowball fight on the worlds highest mountain. Slow mo kit organisation, feed and hydration in readiness for tomorrow race. A on one lung RG on a strapped cankle and RK sporting a yak bell it was setting up for another pantomime.
Our last meal included 2 foil wrapped dairy milk...what a treat. Sleep was elusive esp as 2 huge rocks subsided beside the death tent...loosening bowels and sphincter...unfortunately the crows nest bog had also collapsed. RK hummed himself to sleep with "ice ice baby" as temperature fell to -11 degrees

Mon 27th Gorak Shep to EBC
Breakfast was highlighted with arrival of Lizzie Hawker (worlds best lady ultra marathon runner) competition for the yak bell boys
A duff weather trek today with snow in a very quiet base camp as summit season had almost finished. However rumours of an 82yr old Nepali high on Everest planning for a diamond anniversary on 29th
Choosing tents RG room mate Hyo opted for the death tent perilously close to huge rocks resting on melting ice. Close by was the crows nest of a toilet which required quads of steel and a safety harness.  RK&A the tent looked less perilous but contained marginally less water than the Bhote  Kose river. A spent a tough night between a rock and a wet place.

RK&A the tent looked less perilous but contained marginally less water than the Bhote

Sun 26th Kala Patar 5500m
Another clear day early start for acclimatisation trek to the summit for one the best views on our planet. Hard graft but so rewarding. 40minutes absorbing snapping recording the grandure....lifetime moment to bore the grand kids with.
The afternoon was spent reclining on the beach that is Gorak strand before A&RG tested their performance over the bouncy mud to find 20mins per km was possible.
RGs school boy error in the hairy armpit room. 1 led to 2 as slash became movement. Reaching into an empty pocket for tissues and wipes....not good....options?
1 sacrifice the kacks with a wipe and dump (only 2 pairs in trek
2 Hoik up the breeks and John Wayne it back the room
3 Nepali style wash the undercarriage and shake you booty until dry
4 revisit the used toilet tissue bucket (the lowest form of reincarnation)
Opting for 4 RG unplugged the relevant synapses and completed the paper work

Sat 25th Loboche to Gorak Shep 5140m
Breathtaking literally and metaphorically. Personal highs for most of the team. The notorious Khumbu icefall, base camp and indeed the summit of Everest complete with spindrift limiting summit bids for today. Our bubble burst entering the armpit lodge of the Solu Khumbu. Silver lining as chips and beans lunch reminded us of hame. The hairs of the armpit were the lodge toilets...

Fri 24th Dingboche to Loboche 4910m
One of the most memorable day walks. Island peak, Lhotse, Peak 38, Ama Dablam, Pumori, Nuptse, Lingtren all majestic peaks. Terms for RK marathon were finalised a yak ebell and tail to be worn and the team would contribute SbM funds.

Saturday 1 June 2013

We did it!

FIrst photos from the start of the 2013 Mount Everest Marathon - Richard displays that banner very effectively! photos from the finish line will follow.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

a taste of what's to come

And so from Namche a taste of what is to come on the 29th begins! After a 'rest day' (clearly a misnomer) climbing to 3880 metres to aid our acclimatisation we set off the following day along the marathon route.

Our first day along the route itself began in bright, warm sunshine but alas not all the group were feeling so cheerful. There were a few sore heads courtesy of the altitude but more worryingly several of the 17, including RG & AT were experiencing the Nepalese equivalent of Dehli Belly (answers on a postcard!). Big George, the tight head prop fae Fife was really struggling but despite dehydration and frequent vomiting along the route manfully made it to the riverside lunch stop. Not to be outdone RK complained of a sore throat and common cold! (Most likely attention seeking behaviour!) Predictably lunch, as all meals have, included pasta and potatoes. Equally predictably it was delicious, for those with stomachs still willing to accept any form of nutrition! RK, as always, had seconds. No sign of altitude sickness there!! However, for those with mathematical inclinations there was a serious concern. The day was to involve a 500 metre climb but we had descended 200m!

Would we really have to climb 700 metres in the next two hours? No prizes for guessing that we did. A few hours later everyone successfully made it to the monastery at Tengboche. A great effort from all those who were feeling well short of 100%. Shortly afterwards we arrived at our stop for the night - Rivendell Lodge. A name borrowed from Lord of the Rings AT reliably informed us. Rivendell's bathroom facilities were well stretched that evening!! After dinner RK tucked himself into his warm sleeping bag for a well deserved (in his own opinion) nights sleep! However, he was rudely awakened at 11pm by AT moaning and rocking backwards and forwards in bed complaining of a 10/10 abdominal pain! RK suggested his wife Karen, having bourn his two children, would be unlikely to concur with his scoring system but nonetheless he was in trouble! On closer questioning RK established the AT, the fully qualified consultant anaesthetist, had overdosed on Brufen on an empty stomach!!!! Visions of a helicopter evacuation to Kathmandu for an emergency laparotomy for a perforated ulcer were foremost in RKs thoughts unless the situation could be reversed. Fortunately we managed to locate the team medical bag and, in a further answer to prayer, it contained anti acid tablets (or at least that looked like what it said on the side of the packet)! 40mg, half an hour and a mars bar later AT was cured to great rejoicing! The only evacuations required that night were by several bowels, several times!
The following morning saw only a mild improvement in the bowel disturbances of the several affected! Appetites were generally poor but RK made up for this by inhaling any unclaimed morsels! Again the sun was bright and warm and the team set off at a slow pace initially towards Pangboche and then to our resting place for the night - Dingboche. The highlight of the morning was our first glimpse of the summit of Mount Everest or Sagarmatha, as it is locally known. A special moment indeed for the majority of us for whom this was our first sight of the highest of all God's peaks. A sight which brought Psalm 121 verses 1&2 clearly into focus. As the clouds rolled in and the sun disappeared in the afternoon the team were glad to finally reach their lodge in Dingboche. Many were quick to check out the toilet facilities which were still going to be severely overworked during our 2 night stay!

The next morning brought the first signs of improvement. The diarrhoea and vomiting were starting to settle for the majority and other than a few sore heads there were no significant altitude complications despite the fact that we were now 4410 metres above sea level. This was another one of those 'rest days' but as usual that involved another acclimatisation trek up the valley to 4700 metres! The views though of Lhotse, Ama Dablam and Island Peak though made it all worthwhile. After the customary rest at the top for Lemon Tea (one of RGs finer ideas it has to be said) we were back on the move back to the lodge. Since this was part of the route the boys set off at a brisk walk along the 5 kilometres or so back to the lodge. A decent pace was achieved but sadly RG rolled his left ankle again on the rough terrain. This was the same ankle that came a cropper a few weeks ago in the Mournes. Fortunately on that occasion RG had access to expert advice and treatment from Andy McMullan. On this occasion however he had to make do with two suitably untrained clampits in AT & RK whose strapping looked much less than impressive!

Bright, warm sunshine greeted us as we prepared to leave Dingboche and travel further north up the Khumbu valley. The morning trek was undertaken with a quite incredible vista! Massive mountains and plunging valleys made for breathtaking viewing to the point where few noticed the ever increasing elevation. The scale of the scenery was in sharp contrast to our own insignificance! Another steep climb in the early afternoon brought us close to our resting place for the evening - Lobuche.  However before then we came upon the memorials erected to many of those who have lost their lives attempting to summit Everest. A poignant moment for all. As the temperatures dropped again the team was glad to reach the lodge for more warm Sherpa tea. Amazing how the simple things in life can be the most satisfying!! After a quick rest and several more layers of clothes several of us climbed another 100m to get our first view of the Khumbu glacier. RG sent a few texts home from beside the glacier at 5000 metres above sea level. Amazing the wonders of modern technology - and even more amazing that RG can use a mobile phone!!!

And so to the next few days DV...... climbing above 5000 metres, hopefully a view of Everest from Kala Pathar at 5500 metres before finally reaching base camp!!

And then the race.............

Thursday 23 May 2013

Robert joins the marathon!

It’s official – Robert has now entered the marathon!

Self confessed “dedicated tea drinker” Robert has just TODAY entered his name for the actual marathon on May 29th after his 10 day trek is complete. He will now be joining Richard and Andrew, despite months of mocking their training and insisting there was no way he would ever be crazy enough to undertake “anything as mad as that!”
Once his trek was complete he planned to look forward to relaxing and drinking tea - while his “crazy colleagues” prepared for their marathon. Perhaps the effects of altitude sickness are manifesting themselves in an unusual way in his case! We think it's AMAZING.
The guys have raised well over £15,000 so far for our children in Nepal, and if this incredible challenge which Robert has just taken on has inspired you to add to this total – please visit their donation page on the Stand by Me website 

Here are the guys with their first glimpse of Everest today...
Take care guys,
Stand by Me team

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Meeting our team

Looking like triplet clowns the Stand by Me team are ready to take their calamities international. An alarmingly thorough routine frisking going through security had RG carrying an inner thigh stain. Bonus as RK starts us on an airport lounge crawl. Oman air in flight mag features noteable sporting events this month Champions league final, French open tennis, Sudiman cup badminton, Everest marathon... oh keigh what have three wee lads from Norn Iron got themselves into?  John and Paul...aka wallace and gromit

Meeting our team of 17 was a hint of the hardcore nutters we were about spend the next 14 days with. Ultra trail du Mont Blanc, 140 marathons, Bob Graham's, 24hr trails had RK smiling smugly and RG & AT floundering at the deep end. Meeting the rest of the teams was even worse... needless to say the Germans took it off the scale and ran over the whole of Europe...old habits from the Arians.
4.30am start for the infamous Lukla flight. Tribuvan domestic terminal is chaos in action... heightening the tension which had one of our group stemming the flow with Imodium and a strategically inserted mars bar... (mini mars) 21 people with rucksacks inside a large toothpaste tube... safety briefing was laughable... clearing ridges by 30m was breathtaking... landing was smooth and smell of relief was sweet as the mars bar exited. This was quickly replaced by distinct aroma of Eau de Porter...sweaty grubby hardest working men in Nepal looking to carry tourist baggage on treks... 45-60kg on steep rough trails at high altitude wearing little more than flip flops or crocs. These are the heroes of trekking. Surprisingly only one bag had not made it to Lukla... a veritable triumph for chaos.
A first brew of lemon tea and RG was like a pig in muck. Time to hit the trail a leisurely 2hr stroll to the Phakding. Try pronouncing that with one lemon tea too many. Busy trails with mule and yak and porters carrying everything to and from the Everest region. One porter carrying 8ft high stack of water bottles to support our marathon. Chance for more relaxed chat with team mates
Debs and big George....fae Fyffe....immediate Celtic alliance
John and Paul... navy and paras from last of the summer wine... have been renamed Wallace and Gromit... think RG is going to regret that one
Juan and Isabelle from barcalona... speako no Eenglish
Tim, Caroline, Angela, Richard, Rob and Mike all from England
Late addition was RG's room mate Hyo...Dutch Korean who has been here for the last six weeks running, learning and acclimatising on the Everest marathon route... seriously committed effort.
Tea house accommodation has been top class with only a few hover block bogs... usage tips to minimise self soiling were discussed... demo offered but declined.
Breaking news from today's climb to Namche bazaar... RK shows hint of weakness and does not flatly reject entering marathon... yes mr "my ambition is never to do a marathon and my training is right on course"... is it the altitude?... is the mentalism contagious? Whatever the reason A & RG are like dogs with bones and hitting Namches 'Up and Runners' for a pair of budgie smugglers for RK... photo to follow... donate to view!