See the Joyous Nepalis and Gorgeous Views of the 2023 Everest Marathon

Even for those accustomed to extreme sports — the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon is something to behold.

This year’s iteration, held on May 29 — the 70th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest by Tenzing and Hillary — was no exception. Dozens of international runners joined Nepalis in a race around the world’s highest mountain.

Maybe unsurprisingly, the locals dominated. All three podium spots in the main race fell to Nepali runners, with Tirtha Bahadur Tamang taking top overall honors with an 8:38:09.

Since 2003, the event has attracted extreme athletes willing to run a marathon that begins at Everest Base Camp. That means runners start at an elevation of 5,364 meters, and then race through the crisscrossing trails of the Khumbu valley.

Given that the original marathon came from Greece (with its average elevation of 498m), it’s fair to say that the Everest Marathon is a bit more difficult than your average race.

But the race’s history also mirrors the story of that first epic run from Marathon to Athens back in 490 BC.

A mountain that mirrors marathon history

When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay famously made the first ascent of Everest, news of their success was carried by a runner from base camp to Namche, where it was telegraphed to the world, according to the Everest Marathon website.

The Everest course follows that same route, and “as luck would have it, the route is almost exactly 42km, or an Olympic marathon,” organizers wrote online.

There are three categories, including the 70km Extreme Ultra, 42km Full Marathon, and the 21km Half Marathon.

With such extreme altitude, it should come as no surprise that locals dominate the competition. That’s become even more true in recent years through the influence of Nepali ultrarunner Mira Rai, whose success has encouraged her fellow Nepalis to compete, alpinist Pat Morrow said.

“It’s interesting to note that, given the opportunity, indigenous people excel at any kind of physical feat in terrain they have grown up in,” said Morrow.

See all the photos and race results on the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon page on Facebook.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.