Everest Marathon: The Worlds Toughest High Altitude Race

WHAT: Compete in The Everest Marathon

Mount Everest – a name synonymous with endurance and adventure on a biblical scale. Whether it’s the landscapes, temperatures, or physical and mental challenges, everything about this region is in a league of its own. And the annual Everest Marathon route is no different.

Runners in the everest marathon
PHOTO CREDIT. www.everestmarathon.com

Following The Footsteps of Mountaineering Legends

Also named the Tenzing Hillary Marathon, the race commemorates the date of Everest’s first successful ascent by Everest icons Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953. On that date each year, runners gather at  Everest Base Camp, on the edge of the 5,400, Khumbu Icefall to partake in the Everest Marathon. It’s the highest altitude marathon in the world.

A Challenge Unlike Any Other

The Everest marathon is more than just a race. It’s a physical and mental challenge as sublime and rewarding as it is grueling. The route features icy, rocky, and often precarious downhill paths connecting the Khumbu icefall with the finish line. Runners have to contend with high altitudes and hazardous terrain, their bodies gasping for air as lactic acid pools in their shattered legs. However, most entrants say the surrounding scenery is a great distraction from the physical punishment.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Tenzing Norgay. The Everest marathon is held annually on the date they first ascended Everest
The Everest Marathon commemorates the date of Everest’s first successful ascent by Everest icons Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953.

The Worlds Highest Marathon

Officially, the Everest Marathon is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world´s highest marathon. Unofficially, it may be the most adventurous, memorable, and rewarding race out there, the cold temperatures offset by the warmth of the Nepalese people and their unique and spectacular culture.

mount everest



If you think you have the minerals for this unique, challenging Himalayan adventure, head to the official Everest Marathon website and complete the registration, medical, and payment forms.

How Long is The Everest Marathon

The Everest Marathon offers runners three categories to choose from depending on their abilities.

Everest Extreme Ultra-Marathon
Start Everest Base Camp. Finish Namche Bazar. Distance 60km

Everest Full Marathon
Start Everest Base Camp. Finish Namche Bazar. Distance 42.195KM

Everest Half Marathon
Start Dingboche. Finish Namche Bazar. Distance: 21km


people running down everest

Entrant Requirements

The race is open to anyone 18 or above. But before pinning on your number bib, you’ll need to provide proof you won’t end up the target of a Sherpa search and rescue mission. You’ll need to demonstrate some running experience, a proven ability to withstand the altitude, and a valid health insurance policy. You’ll also be expected to show up with the required clothing and navigation equipment.

A man running in the himalayas
PHOTO CREDIT. www.everestmarathon.com

The Trek To Everest

Once the details are squared away, the adventure begins with a 12-14 day trek to Everest Base Camp. The route winds its way through verdant forest trails and sherpa villages where you’ll bunk down for the night. Many runners claim that the toughest part is making it to the start line. The slow, tiring, uphill trek to Everest is more than just a rite of passage. It is a vital way to acclimatize and prepare your mind and body for the marathon.

A person trekking through the Himalayas to Everest base camp

You’ll be Wiped Out Before You Even Start

Typically, marathon runners eat, sleep, and rest to prepare for a race. This is no typical race. Those that make the start line (not all do) will be worn out, hungry, and sleep-deprived. And, they’ll need to be ready to run.

The following morning, the pistol signals the start of a brutal 65-kilometer descent through rough, cross-country terrain, beginning at the Khumbu Glacier and descending into the Himalayan foothills and the majestic Sagarmatha National Park. Although most of the race is downhill, one or two uphill sections will test the best, most notably a 3-mile uphill climb to Lukla, after which the finish line is close.

The Start Line
PHOTO CREDIT. www.everestmarathon.com

Everest Marathon Support

During the race, runners are supported by experienced local sherpas and support crews. Doctors are present to monitor runners’ physical condition, and organize emergency evacuations if necessary. Runners are provided with an electronic wristband that allows organizers to monitor their progress. Once the race is underway there is an official timekeeper, teams of marshals, and regular checkpoints where runners may eat and drink.


A person jumping on a Trail
PHOTO CREDIT. www.everestmarathon.com

Everest Marathon Costs

Everest marathon costs vary between $1000 and $2700, depending on the chosen accommodation package and race category. The Everest marathon costs do not include flights or visas.

When is The Everest Marathon

The Everest Marathon begins on May 29th, the same date each year.


The Everest Ultra-Marathon route begins at Everest base camp and runs 65 kilometers between Everest base camp and the town of Namche Bazar in north-eastern Nepal. The fastest runners usually make the finish line within the day. Others choose to pit stop the night at a local lodge and make up the remainder the next day. The standard marathon and half marathon follow sections of this main route. In 2006, Deepak Rai set a new Everest Marathon route record of 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 27 seconds.

Everest Marathon Route map
The Everest Ultra-Marathon Route Map. Near the end is the uphill climb to Mong La. Veteran Everest runners say this is the part of the race that will make or break you.
  • After the Khumbu Icefall, the Everest marathon route includes boulder-strewn trails and areas where rockfalls and landslides are common.
  • This is a high-altitude event. Besides the physical obstacles, runners face low atmospheric pressure, low levels of oxygen, and year-round snow and ice in the early stages of the race.
  • Risks include snow blindness and altitude sickness, underscoring the need for proper acclimatization prior to the race.
  • Besides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the center of the Himalayas, the Everest Marathon is a true celebration of Nepalese culture. Runners train with, rely on, and even compete against the Sherpas, some of whom happen to be world-class mountain runners. In most cases, homestays with Nepalese families are included in the Everest Marathon costs.
  • Providing you’re not too slow, the race allows you to go at your own pace, meaning you get to take in Sagarmatha National Park.
  • Keep a lookout for wildlife such as musk deer, bearded vultures, and even the fabled, ultra-rare snow leopard.


Read - book recomendations

Share this article


Related Posts