Thursday, July 30, 2009

Running for Mutton

It's been awhile since my last confession folks, but that's not my fault. For some reason the Chinese government feels that, among others, such as Facebook, are a threat to national security and therefore I haven't been able to share my adventure with you. I'm in the very liberal, and cosmopolitan, capital of Mongolia, Ulaan Bataar, where blogging is allowed. Mind you, so is urinating in public and eating blow-torched marmot (it was pretty good, actually).
We arrived in Mongolia about 10 days ago and immediately headed out for some back country-yert adventure. The landscape here is phenomenal. There are very few trails of any kind, but for miles and miles you can run through open fields, over grassy mountains, and into larch-filled forests. It really is the trail runners dream. On the first day of the journey I became quite sick and couldn't really run too long, but as any addicted runner would do, I ran anyway...short though. With lungs full of goo and a nose full of snot I pushed through a run\walk above a 400 year old monastery in the middle of nowhere. The views were outstanding and the meal of mutton and potatoes that followed was fantastic.
It was a couple a days of driving and rest before arriving at Lake Khovsgol, just south of the Russian border, where I got my next run. The rest of my group had gone horesback riding and I did what I love most. RAN.
From there we had our longest driving day, but to the most perfect running location I've ever seen. We dropped a tent in the middle of a wide open field without a soul in sight. As the sun set I plotted a route up a steep ridge line and across the top of three peaks, and then back down the next gully. At 7 o'clock I woke up and set off through the grass and up a rocky ridgeline. The field was so big I had no idea it would take me 15 minutes just to reach the base of the gulley. I pushed up the hill slowly and when I hit the peak the view into the next valley was spectacular. I sat for a bit and waited for Lara to catch up and we ran across the three peaks. It was exactly what I had pictured running in Mongolia to be. If you look closely in the picture to the right you can see my tiny black Salomon jersey cruising down from the crest of the hill top.

We've just arrived back in Ulaan Bataar and I can guarantee you I won't be doing any running here. It's not really a runners city. There's no Seawall if you're wondering. It's mostly garbage, dirt, and pollution. Surrounded by mountains so maybe I'll do a day trip before leaving on Saturday.
I should be a touch out fo shape for my return, but I'm definitely planning to run the Whistler 5 peaks. Anyone else interested? Check it out: 5 peaks.


  1. Is a 'trailer runner' a mix between a runner and someone who watches Trailer Park Boys?

    Great stories and some great pics too. Don't come home, you're more interesting on the road Craik!


  2. That's hilarious that you pointed that out. I just corrected that and thought the exact same thing. Maybe it's a person who is trailer trash? You would love it here, G. It's heaven for runners. Enjoy the heat training. I guess you don't need that sauna anymore?