Jason Reardon of Australia became the first man in the world to cross the finish line with the time of 120 hours 19 minutes, with Matthew Maday from US coming in at 123 hrs 35 min in the 10th edition of La Ultra-The High in Ladakh. Ashish Kasodekar came in third at 126 hrs 18 min, becoming the first and only Indian to finish the distance.
The La Ultra-The High lived up to its reputation of being the cruelest ultra marathon with extreme weather conditions that challenged the participants to test their limits.
Runners opted for one of the distances from 55, 111, 222, 333, 555 kms and had strategized their reaching the finish line but nature had its own plan. Rain welcomed the runners at the start line in Nubra Valley which went on for 40 kms of the course, followed by 60 kms of snow which soon turned into slush on top of Khardung-La and Wari-La, at an altitude of 17,700 feet, making it difficult for the runners to manoeuvre the course.
The rarefied air at the elevation, along with temperature variations from 40C to -15 C (felt like -25C due to the wind chill) further added to the challenge, in addition to all three peaks being snowed in, resulted in the most number of people to get a “Did Not Finish” across all the categories except the 555 kms which truly demonstrated the power of the human spirit and grit. 29 out of the 40 runners could finish the 55K run, 10 out of the 19 succeeded in the 111 kms, only one of the 9 runners finished in the 222 category, and none of the two participants made it to the finish line of the 333 category.
Three out of the five participants in the 555 kms category completed the run well within the cut off limit of 132 hours.