Monday, May 13, 2013


Hi everyone. We arrived once more, safe & sound, in Krazy Kathmandu!
After an epic journey beginning in England on Thursday I finally touched down in Nepal on Sunday evening. 5 countries, 4 flights, 2 trains, and a minibus, saw me deposited along with my 22 Dutch friends at The Kathmandu Guesthouse. The oasis in the storm that is Thamel.
Thamel is buzzing as always with the vibrant atmosphere that makes it such a great place to hang out.

Not that Wilco and I had much time to hang out, we have been busy finalising the details of our trek and sorting out last minute issues. We did finally get the chance to grab a nice chicken wrap and a beer this evening.
Tomorrow morning we start early with a long, nine hour, bus ride to Jiri; the starting point for our trek on the Old Expedition Route to Mount Everest Base Camp. If our bus journey is anything like last years it will certainly make for an interesting experience (and the use of some spare underwear!).

We are looking forward to getting under-way now and we can't wait to get started on the trek.
The first few days are very hard but we have a great bunch of people with us and we are sure that it will be a lot of fun. The trek in from Jiri is so beautiful that it can make a grown man cry. It is a truly fantastic experience.
Hopefully we will be able to update you all on our arrival in Namche in about a week, however nothing is certain in Nepal! Last year we experienced the worst storm for seventy years and our arrival in Namche was greeted with no electricity, no hot water, and definitely no internet! It surely won't be like that this year, will it??? :D

Wish us luck!
Our love goes out to all our families and friends. We will see you all soon, healthy and happy.


Love from Neil and Wilco XXX

Friday, May 10, 2013

Nepali Boomerang!

Today I begin my journey to Nepal once more.
I am returning with my great friend Wilco Voulon to trek, in The Himalaya, with a large group of enthusiastic travellers from his home of town of Zwolle in The Netherlands; on behalf of Autisme Sportief and Autism Care Nepal.
I am excited to going with such a lovely bunch of people.
I am excited to be trekking in on The Old Expedition Route from Jiri to Mount Everest Base Camp.
I am excited to be attempting The Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon on May 29th.
I am excited to be returning to one of the worlds most beautiful countries, inhabited by beautiful people.
I now have many friends in Nepal and I am excited to see them all again. They make me smile.

I fly initially to Amsterdam and take a train on to Zwolle for the night.
On Saturday we begin the long journey to Nepal.
Flying from Amsterdam via Dubai and New Delhi before finally arriving in Kathmandu on Sunday afternoon.
I am looking forward to guiding such a large group and the challenges & rewards that it will present.
The route in from Jiri is more beautiful than you can possibly imagine and the high Himalaya is all that you can imagine. The scale of these mountains is impossible to convey with words and images alone. They are colossus's in every sense of the word. I will try, when connection allows, to give you a taste of this magical place throughout our journey.
I am going to try and make a short video too, of the people, places, and sights.

Thank you to Carolyn at Derby Runner for the sound advice on trail running shoes, and to Osprey Packs (Europe) for helping me out with a pack.
My thanks also to the knowledgeable staff at Outside in Hathersage, Derbyshire for their advice (and fab cafe). 

But most of all my sincerest thanks go to my old friend Wilco for presenting me with such a great opportunity. And to my mate Mitch for being such a great source of inspiration and for always beasting me whenever we train or ride together.
Thanks to Phil Evans of The Yak Attack for his inspiration and for proving that ordinary people can achieve the most extraordinary things. Phil also happens to be the only person in the world to have completed both the worlds highest marathon (Everest) and the worlds highest mountain bike race (Yak Attack). On May 29th I hope to join that very exclusive club!

When Wilco conceived this adventure a little over a year ago I had no idea that it would become as personally significant to me as it has. With the loss of my beloved cousin Darren last October (a passionate mountain runner) it has become a personal pilgrimage to honour his memory in the most fitting way I can. We loved him more than he will ever know.
On May 29th I will crawl across that finish line on my hands & knees if I have to.

Darren Holloway. August 10th 1970 - October 7th 2012.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yak Attack 2013 - Part Two.

Yak Attack - Those Two Imposters!

Hmmmm... CAKE!

I'm sure most people will be familiar, in some form or other, of Rudyard Kipling's very famous poem "If". And "If" you aren't then it's worth looking up. It's a great poem about humility, respect, honesty and decency, in a British Empire stiff-upper-lip kind of way. Bear with me.

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two imposters just the same,..."

"... Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!"

Read on.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Yak Attack 2013 - Part One.

Yak Attack - Half Way to Paradise.

In Nepal they refer to their natural terrain as "A little bit up, a little bit down"; I think I can safely say that my experiences of this years Yak Attack were a bit like that!
It's a very tough event, it's considered to be one of the hardest endurance races on the planet; it's tough on the rider, both physically and mentally, and tough on the bikes too.
It's also much more than just a mountain bike stage-race. It's an adventure unlike any other. It simply cannot be compared to any other stage race, there are no similarities.

The terrain, the conditions, and the trails, change dramatically throughout the whole event.
The early stages are punishingly hot and dusty. The mid-stages start to cool and the altitude begins to take affect. The high-stages are very cold, and the altitude becomes debilitating, at the highest point oxygen is 50% that of sea level. All of the stages are very rough, and each and every one has lung-busting climbs, every stage is hard.
Added to all of this is the piece de resistance - The Thorong La - a high pass, sitting at 5416m which has to be hiked over; it is simply too steep and too high to ride.
And just to add further to the competitors discomfort, you are allowed only 10kgs of equipment. Factor in spare parts, a sleeping bag, high altitude clothing, and other necessities, and you are left with very little room for extra's. (Read in to that as "no room for extra's"!) It takes some creative thinking and a lot sacrifices to make the weight. (This will be changing for the 2014 event and riders will be allowed a momentous 20kgs).
Spartan accommodation, less than beautiful bathroom facilities, and pretty basic foods complete the equation. It is a race for the adventurous not the squeamish.
It's a roller-coaster of a challenge; and I love it!