Participants in the Great Himal Race will be running across Nepal this coming April and Cambell River’s Bob Wall, is one of them.
The runners go from the Kachenjunga Base Camp in the east to Hilsa in the west. The route is 1,800 km with over 90,000 metres in elevation gain and is scheduled to take 45 days.
“That is exciting in itself but it seems somewhat empty to just do it cause it’s cool,” Wall said. “I’ve been running long enough that that’s not the only draw I need.”
So Wall is running for a cause, he is running to raise awareness about access to clean drinking water.
It all started in 2013 when Wall went to Nepal with a student group from Carihi and Timberline.
“The goal of that trip was to assist with construction of an irrigation channel in a village just outside of Pokhara, which is Nepal’s second largest city,” Wall said.
The people in the village had gastrointestinal issues as well as a high infant mortality rate.
Working with the water system and seeing the illnesses in the village, Wall became curious.
Two years later he returned to the village and found that E. coli was rampant in the water system, from the collection site to the tap.
After looking over the entire system, Wall determined that the best way to get clean water was to filter it as it came out of the tap. So he taught cleanliness classes to the women and children in the village and chose four homes to test a water filtration unit.
This year, after the race, he is returning to the village to see what the people think of the system before he proceeds.
“I think it is an evolving thing, this might not be the answer right now but we are getting some valuable feedback,” Wall said.
Wall readily admits that running across the country might not be the best way to raise funds, or awareness, for the cause.
“The way I see it is if you can do something that you actually really love to do and you can help people at the same time, there’s no better union, it’s a win win,” he said.
Wall loves running and since he is running through the Himalayas, he is going to try to raise awareness about the right to clean drinking water— two birds with one stone.
Wall first got into running after hyperextending his knee playing hockey. He walked around a track with a friend to try and get it feeling better. The walking turned into running and the running turned into racing.
First he ran a 5 km race then a 10. Pretty soon he was running marathons.
The first ultra-marathon, more than 43.2 km, he ran was by accident. He was training for a marathon in Vancouver when his daughter got sick and he decided to stay close to home to be with her.
So he participated in the Great Walk in Gold River, which was 64 km, and finished first. Not only that, it seemed to go fairly smoothly. So he started running ultra-marathons.
The next hurdle was a 100 km race. The first time he did one, he didn’t change up his training schedule. He said he just wanted to see how it would go. It went well, he finished in the top 10. So he committed.
In 2005 Wall was the 50 mile national champion. He said he ran for the Canadian national team at the championships in France and again the next year in Belgium.
He seemed to have found his groove. But then he got bored of running on the road so he started trail running.
Over the last eight years, Wall has run all of the coastal trails on the Island.
In 2014 he participated in the Sinister 7 in the Crowsnest Pass. It was his first 100 mile in a race format.
“Being out on the forest or in the mountains, it reaffirms my connection to everything,” he said. “It really makes me acutely aware of my humanity, it brings me to that place.”
And it’s a good thing too, because running across Nepal with a 30 litre backpack full of supplies and no rest days is not going to be easy.
“This is literally the Everest of trails,” Wall said.
Wall plans on talking to locals along the way about clean water as well as making videos and blog posts to raise awareness of the clean water issue.
After the race he is returning to the village to continue his project there.
Next year he might run across Canada for the same cause, because not all communities in Canada have access to clean drinking water.
At the moment Wall is running everyday to prepare. He said he is doing hard runs on tired legs to simulate the get up and go that will be required during the race.
He is also looking for sponsorship for his water project at the village as well as support for his run across the country.
To get in touch with Bob email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-203-4319. He also has a crowdfunding page.