Photos: Nepalese monks trade robes for running shoes to become marathoners

Updated On Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

In the foothills of Nepal's Himalayas, seven Buddhist monks are aspiring to become ultra-marathon runners, hoping the sport will put their remote village on the map and provide the funds needed to rebuild homes destroyed by the 2015 earthquake.

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Swapping maroon robes for running gear, seven Buddhist monks in the foothills of Nepal’s Himalayas are training to become ultra-marathon runners, hoping the sport will put their remote village on the map and provide funds needed to rebuild homes destroyed by a massive earthquake nearly three years ago. (Paavan Mathema / AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

Swapping maroon robes for running gear, seven Buddhist monks in the foothills of Nepal’s Himalayas are training to become ultra-marathon runners, hoping the sport will put their remote village on the map and provide funds needed to rebuild homes destroyed by a massive earthquake nearly three years ago. (Paavan Mathema / AFP)

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The monks perform morning prayers at their monastery before a training session. Life is tough in Sindhukot village, which lies just 80 kilometres from Kathmandu, but like many rural communities in Nepal feels totally cut off from the rest of the world. The nearest school is a two-hour walk and the only shops are in a neighbouring village. (Paavan Mathema / AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

The monks perform morning prayers at their monastery before a training session. Life is tough in Sindhukot village, which lies just 80 kilometres from Kathmandu, but like many rural communities in Nepal feels totally cut off from the rest of the world. The nearest school is a two-hour walk and the only shops are in a neighbouring village. (Paavan Mathema / AFP)

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Mostly in their early twenties, the monks follow a strict regime, praying in the morning before disappearing into the hills to run up to 40 kms each afternoon. These Himalayan monks are not the first to take up running. The so-called ‘marathon monks’ of Mount Hiei in Japan are known for their superhuman feat of running 1,000 marathons in 1,000 days -- but unlike these monks, they seek enlightenment. (Paavan Mathema / AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

Mostly in their early twenties, the monks follow a strict regime, praying in the morning before disappearing into the hills to run up to 40 kms each afternoon. These Himalayan monks are not the first to take up running. The so-called ‘marathon monks’ of Mount Hiei in Japan are known for their superhuman feat of running 1,000 marathons in 1,000 days -- but unlike these monks, they seek enlightenment. (Paavan Mathema / AFP)

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Many Buddhist families in Nepal send at least one son to join the local monastery, where they are usually fed, clothed and educated -- relieving parents of the financial burden. “We found out that we can get many opportunities through running and hope to do something from our monk team -- make a name for our village and bring development here,” said Man Bahadur Lama, 21, the fastest of the group. (Paavan Mathema / AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

Many Buddhist families in Nepal send at least one son to join the local monastery, where they are usually fed, clothed and educated -- relieving parents of the financial burden. “We found out that we can get many opportunities through running and hope to do something from our monk team -- make a name for our village and bring development here,” said Man Bahadur Lama, 21, the fastest of the group. (Paavan Mathema / AFP)

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Monks perform their daily warm up in front of the monastery before heading out to train. Mingma Gyalbo, a member of the monastery who also organises races nearby, said the monks are talented but need more support to excel. “They don’t have the technical know-how, like for their diet, or even proper shoes for running,” Gyalbo said. (Paavan Mathema / AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

Monks perform their daily warm up in front of the monastery before heading out to train. Mingma Gyalbo, a member of the monastery who also organises races nearby, said the monks are talented but need more support to excel. “They don’t have the technical know-how, like for their diet, or even proper shoes for running,” Gyalbo said. (Paavan Mathema / AFP)

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Mingma Lama, a fellow sprinter from the group who was sent to the monastery when he was eight but had to return to his village after the monastery was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake said, “Every day we go up and down the hills. We often have to walk far... So running wasn’t too hard for us.” (Paavan Mathema / AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

Mingma Lama, a fellow sprinter from the group who was sent to the monastery when he was eight but had to return to his village after the monastery was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake said, “Every day we go up and down the hills. We often have to walk far... So running wasn’t too hard for us.” (Paavan Mathema / AFP)

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Trail running and marathons are gaining popularity in Nepal, where the terrain lends itself to extreme tests of endurance. The country hosts the world’s highest marathon that starts at Mount Everest base camp. A few Nepalese runners have made a mark internationally as well like Mira Rai who recently won the Ben Nevis Ultra in Scotland and was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2017. (Paavan Mathema / AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

Trail running and marathons are gaining popularity in Nepal, where the terrain lends itself to extreme tests of endurance. The country hosts the world’s highest marathon that starts at Mount Everest base camp. A few Nepalese runners have made a mark internationally as well like Mira Rai who recently won the Ben Nevis Ultra in Scotland and was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2017. (Paavan Mathema / AFP)

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The monks’ first race two years ago was a 30 km run in a neighbouring village but they are yet to win any medals. The fastest monk, Man Bahadur, came tenth in their first major marathon earlier this month, missing out on the 100,000 rupees prize, more than the country’s average annual income. “They are very self-motivated and hardworking and are training by themselves... if they train well they have good potential,” said race organiser Shekhar Pandey. (Paavan Mathema / AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 01:21 PM IST

The monks’ first race two years ago was a 30 km run in a neighbouring village but they are yet to win any medals. The fastest monk, Man Bahadur, came tenth in their first major marathon earlier this month, missing out on the 100,000 rupees prize, more than the country’s average annual income. “They are very self-motivated and hardworking and are training by themselves... if they train well they have good potential,” said race organiser Shekhar Pandey. (Paavan Mathema / AFP)

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