Orkney-based athlete, William Sichel, is preparing for his next feat of endurance, the world's highest ultra-marathon in Kashmir, India. Sichel has modified his training to be able to cope with the testing conditions of the race, which spans 333km at an average altitude of 14,500 feet.
The event, scheduled for 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.
Commenting on the task ahead, Sichel said: “Putting it simply, at those altitudes, it is much harder to breathe so your lungs and diaphragm have to work much harder to supply the necessary amounts of air compared to when you are at sea level.”
As part of his preparations, Sichel is making use of a special mask that restricts air flow into the lungs making it much harder to breathe in, creating a sensation very similar to what he will experience in the extreme high altitudes of Ladakh. “It's not a very nice experience fighting for breath through the mask but it's a case of being prepared and training the breathing muscles to be able to cope with 18,000 feet.”
Sichel will leave Orkney on 31 July in order to complete his final preparations on site in Kashmir with a series of graded treks designed to optimise acclimatisation. The forthcoming event is part of Sichel’s broader pursuit of project165.com, in which he aims to set 165 ultra-running records before his 65th birthday in 2018.