Inaugural Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra in Southern China

16 Dec 2014 13:50
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra Course Preview
Credit : Shangri-La Marathon

Hello, on April 25th 2015, you’ll be organizing the Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra. Can you tell us where it is located?

The race takes place on some of the most breathtaking mountains in the world, the Meili Snow Mountains, or Kawagarbo as it is known by local natives and pilgrims, part of the grand Himalayan Mountain range in the Yunnan province of Southern China, bordering Tibet.

The specific location is approximately 6-hours from the city of Shangri-La, China. Race camp and start location is at the park entrance near: Xi Dang Cun, Deqin Xian, Diqing Zangzuzizhizhou, Yunnan Sheng, China.


This will be the inaugural event. What motivated you to launch the event?

As runners we have always been inspired by the natural beauty this world has to offer. We seek out new locations and trails to explore for a good run. When you run new trails and locations you see so much more than you would as a traveler or tourist. The experience is more intimate and personal, you connect with the nature as your running through it.

Over the last few years we have been in China and discovered some amazing locations, the Meili Snow Mountains being one of them. Places such as this are relatively unknown to the world outside of China, locations like this should be experienced, especially by outdoor adventure enthusiasts and trail runners.

We were humbled and in awe by the incredible beauty, the trails we went on were a lot of fun to run and provided some spectacular sights. From that we were inspired, we felt the combination of great location, amazing sights, and fun trails would make for a very special race for runners to experience. Thus the Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra was born.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it? What distances do you offer?

Runners have a choice of 100k and 50k Ultramarathon distance and 42k Full and 21k Half Marathon distances to race. The course goes over and around a majestic mountain on a trail path. Ultramarathon runners get an extended course going up to the glacier and spiritual waterfall at the base of one of the eight Kawagarbo mountain peaks.

Credit : Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra

The course is not easy, but it is a lot of fun, right from the race start at 2,695m (8,844ft) runners will have a challenging climb to 3,767m (12,359ft) in approximately the first 5k, that is over 1,000m (3,300ft). Followed by a long downhill section with spectacular sights of the glacier capped mountain peaks.

Due to the dramatic elevation climbs and descents the course takes runners through a handful of micro climates. Runners will experience lush mountain forest, heavy moss forest, glaciers, possibly some snow, rock cliffs, waterfalls, roaring rivers, steep canyons, high desert, and farm lands. A diverse course with distinctly unique sections that provide a new experience for runners.

How many runners do you expect on Saturday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

The final number of runners remains to be determined, however we will limit the event and close registrations once it hits a certain point. We want to keep it an intimate experience focused on the runners and beautiful location. This is about creating a great adventure experience, something that will create special memories for runners. Also as the race entry includes 2-nights of camping, transportation, and a team chef to cater to runners. We only have so much room at the race camp.

The race is clearly attracting long distance ultra and trail runners who are going for the 50k or 100k. While the 42k and 21k sections of the course are beautiful, the extended section for 50k and 100k runners is really spectacular and well worth the trip.

Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra Course Preview
Credit : Shangri-La Marathon

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

The race is taking place in late April, so expect spring like conditions. Due to the elevations of the course runners will experience a range of temperatures. Expect a cold early morning start with the weather warming up throughout the day. The regions average temperature in late April is 13°C / 55°F but has been known to go as high as 20°C / 68°F and as low as 1°C / 34°F.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

The race will be centered around our race camp right by the start/finish line. The evening before the race we’ll be doing the race check-in and course review meeting followed by camp fire runners dinner prepared by our team chef. We are looking into the possibility of playing an inspirational trail running film before calling it a night.

On race day we will have an evening celebration and dinner at the camp. We’ll be including food and beer for runners, plus there will most likely be a local band playing live music. Since the race has 100k distance, we anticipate that runners will be finishing into the night before the 18-hour cutoff time.

Both nights runners will be staying in tents that we provide with sleeping bags. Right by the race camp is a natural hot springs. We’ll be using the hot springs for post race bathing and washing up.

Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra Course Preview
Credit : Shangri-La Marathon

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Shangri-La before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

There is something special about Shangri-La, after all this is the location of the mystical lands from novelist JamesHilton’s The Lost Horizon, the Tibetan hidden paradise of Shambala. The moment you get off the airplane you can sense something really unique. The people are timeless in their traditions and culture. As part of running this race you will experience the magic of the Meili Snow Mountains, one of the main sights to experience. The other thing worth experiencing is the local temples, they transport you into another world, giving you spiritual insight into the people and the lands of Shangri-La.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra?

The world is filled with amazing natural locations, come experience the mythical Meili Snow Mountains of Shangri-La while running a challenging yet fun trail race at the Shangri-La Marathon & Ultra.

Interview with Terry Majamaki. Terry has been an avid outdoors person all his life, be it getting dirty gardening in his yard, racing down a single track trail on his mountain bike, hitting fresh powder on his snowboard, or running trails. He feels the most happy when outside in nature. Being able to share and create new unique experiences in nature for people is why he got into creating race events with his team of runners. To see the joy runners have as they cross the finish line is what makes them happy.