William Sichel is making final preparations as he gets set to tackle La Ultra, the world's highest ultra marathon, in Kashmir, India. The Orkney-based runner will need to cope with the testing conditions of the race, which spans 333km at an average altitude of 14,500 feet.
The event, scheduled to start on 16 August, follows a route through the Nubra Valley in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India and the Morey Plains. Simply called ‘La Ultra - The High’, competitors can also expect extreme conditions, with temperatures ranging between -10°C and 40ºC.
Looking ahead to the race, Sichel commented: “I've arranged my travel to arrive in the region well ahead of the race beginning and allowing me a decent spell to acclimatise. I've worked with the experienced organisers to plan a series of graded treks designed to optimise acclimatisation in the run up to the event. This will give me the best chance possible of being well prepared for these extreme altitudes.”
William admits that he has almost no experience of altitude and this was part of the attraction of the event. Just 16 runners will be involved and simply finishing will be a major achievement.
Aware of the limits this will push him to, Sichel added: “I'm expecting this to be the toughest physical challenge I've ever attempted as nothing can be harder than trying to run with 40% less oxygen in the air. Humans can survive weeks without food, days without water but just minutes without oxygen – that just illustrates how crucial the oxygen supply is to our bodies and minds.”