Making their way to Thorong La Pass (5,416m)
© Dean Leslie/Red Bull Content Pool
Ultrarunning

Ryan Sandes explains what it takes to run the Great Himalaya Trail

Running 1,406km of the Great Himalaya Trail in the fastest known time is so much more than just a race against time
Written by Corinna Halloran
2 min readPublished on
When Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel set out on their fastest known time (FKT) attempt 23 days ago, they knew it would be tough, they knew it would be physically demanding, and they knew it would be an adventure. But what they didn’t know was just how epic and transformative that adventure would be. What may have begun as a race against time has evolved into an epic journey about experiencing a country on foot.

2 min

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel on the awesome adventure of running the GHT

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel explain the amazing adventure in running a 1406km section of the Great Himalaya Trail in the Fastest Known Time.

“I’ve always chased big dreams,” said Sandes. “But I’ve realised here it’s just important to enjoy the simple things and the small things are the most important.” He explained this days after his running partner, Ryno Griesel, was nearly forced to stop running due to health reasons.
One of the most poignant moments in this story have become the way Sandes and Griesel have still given time to take in nature’s beauty whether it’s a sunrise, a 8,000m mountain, or a small farming town.
Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel trek in morning light with a mountain backdrop.
Early morning departure
Together, over the past 23 days, they’ve climbed more than 66,457m and self-navigated themselves over a 1,406km section of the Great Himalaya Trail – hitting a total of 12 check points (they’ve currently on number 11). They’ve also survived frost bite, injuries, extreme fatigue, rock slides, and a few drunk people.
The Great Himalaya Trail is a network of trails spanning the country, but there’s no specific trail – which makes it unlike the Appalachian Trail in the USA. Sandes and Griesel are aiming to break Andrew Porter’s s FKT of the GHT, a record he set in 2016 that was similar to Sean Burch’s east to west run in 2010.
Ryan Sandes sits at a table while Ryno Griesel rests his head in his hands.
Beat from the trail
“I know it’s not the toughest route to cross Nepal, but the diversity on our route has been unbelievable – and I want to thank Andrew Porter for that,” said Griesel. “An FKT is not super-regulated. It allows for creativity. It allows for different people, with different abilities, to set different benchmarks, so that other people can measure themselves against that.”
At the moment the duo are aiming to complete the FKT three to four days ahead of Porter’s 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes and they’re on course to finish their mission this weekend.