Two Nepalis in Switzerland: What do we expect to happen?

So we’ve found these two runners, Bed and Sudip. They’re both from pretty remote areas of Nepal, and selected them for their running talent.

Now, they’re great runners, but they’re not guaranteed success. Just because they’re plucked from obscurity, from a poor background, it doesn’t mean they will perform wonders at exactly the right moment.

Unfortunately, it’s not that straight forward. What I have found in Bed and Sudip, is what we see in many a running club – excellent but undeveloped talent. A natural flair and ability to run a long way, up big hills, and to keep going for a long time, and a pretty good speed.

Bed

Bed while racing closer to home.

My job in this project is to nurture that talent, as any coach will, and prepare them for a big race. Their talent and their lifestyle have many strengths. One thing that is very trendy in our western world at the moment is discovering people who give up all the gear and just get back to basics. Bed and Sudip are another story like that. But we cannot just wonder at their lifestyle and expect the rest to just follow. Whilst I am learning a lot from them, they must take advice on the Davos ultramarathon if they are to excel.

The Davos race is a great challenge for them. It’s a similar mountain terrain (as similar as you can get to the Himalaya). Big inclines, steep descents, a bit of altitude. It’s the best match you can find to the terrain Bed & Sudip run on. However, they’ve never run on tarmac. Big problem when it comes to gait and stabilization and muscle degredation. Also, they’ve never been out of Nepal. So to get there is going to be draining in a way that we Westerners have learnt how to deal with. Does a Nepali know how to cope with jet-lag? How did you feel first time you had jet-lag?

Plus, these guys have never been to a developed country. How much of a wow-factor will that be? I imagine it will be as overwhelming for them, as it was for me arriving in Kathmandu to all the noise, dust and melee of just trying to find a taxi amongst the hordes of people just hanging around. Now that will be a lot for them to get used to, in just a few days before the race. That’s a lot of distractions.

So my job here is coach. I am preparing them as best I can for this race, making the most of their strength and talents, and the benefits of Nepali lifestyle. But I am also trying to manage their expectations in Switzerland – what will the country be like, the food, how will they react. This preparation is just as important. Bed and Sudip tell me they “will go there and do our best” and I am sure they will. I’d love them to wow the world with their ability.

Will they win? They have the potential, they’re good enough, but there’s a lot of work to go in first.

[This is the second in a series of articles about Project Davos, an attempt to train two Nepali runners to compete in a top European trail ultramarathon. If you wish to provide financial or equipment support for the effort, please contact Rob Cousins.]

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