Namche to Deboche represents the final seven or so miles of the marathon route and it promises to be the hardest. Our trekking day started with a 0630 wake up, breakfast at 0715 and departure at 0815. The initial part comprises 2.2 miles of relatively flat path running high along a steep valley side.
At Kanjoma the trail begins to gently then increasingly brutal descent to the amusingly named Phunki Tenga. Here you cross the Dudh Kosi yet again over a wire suspension bridge and immediately start a steep 600m ascent up through rhododendron forest to the huge monastery at Tangboche. Without a doubt this section of the marathon will be appallingly difficult and it will occur between 19 and 22 miles.
While the big mountains were wreathed in cloud all day, we were bathed in sunshine along much of the walk to the monastery. Tangboche is situated on a ridge so you immediately have drop down from 3860m to 3710m at Deboche, where we spent the night. We awoke to a beautiful morning with only a little cloud around. For the first time on the trip we could see the summit of Everest, poking out from behind the Lohtse-Nuptse ridge, while the magnificent Ama Dablam dominated the immediate area.
Today's walk, while relatively easy going under foot did gain 700m. From the off we could feel the thin air but it seems common for everyone to take a while until their body warms up. Early in the walk we encountered a collapsed metal bridge that was destroyed during the great earthquake of 2015. Clearly preparations were underway to replace it with a permanent suspension bridge but we were still able to cross the Dudh Kosi on a temporary bridge.
The morning took us up through Pangboche and onwards eventually to Dingboche.
It proved to be a busy day on the trail with 160 marathon runners and their trekking crews intermingled with numerous Jobkay (a cross between a yak and a domestic cow) carrying heavy loads.
Dingboche was our second acclimatisation stop. We woke to a gin blue sky with spectacular views in all directions. Our plan was to walk up the Imja valley for 3 miles to Chukkung at 4730m to expose our bodies to higher elevations. We're walking very slowly at the moment as our guide, Raj, keeps the pace low deliberately to prevent us from getting fatigued. The scenery is simply spectacular.
After a spot of lunch we headed back to Dingboche, some of our group ran the whole way back, while Christine and I walked down to Bebre which is about 11.5 miles on the marathon route and ran the 1.5 miles. Despite being at 4500 we were able to run albeit slowly with some confort. However, the slightest incline up simply kills your legs and lungs, so walking up hill is essential. We covered the 1.5 miles in 20 mins.