Updated: Thursday, 29 May 2014 22:25 | By Agence France-Presse

Nepalese runner wins world's highest marathon

Clad in trekking boots and snow goggles, more than 150 runners took part in the world's highest marathon in the foothills of Mount Everest Thursday, passing yaks and monasteries along the snow-covered trail.

Nepalese runner wins world's highest marathon

Competitors in the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon in Nepal's Solukhumbu district on May 29, 2014 - by Himex

The annual Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon, which kicked off in 2003, is meant to mark the anniversary of the first summit of Mount Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary on May 29, 1953. 

Runners set off as soon as the clock struck 8:48 am, a start time meant to coincide with the height of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak, as local farmers gave them a rousing send-off.

"The marathon trail began from Gorakshep at 5,160 metres and ended at Namche Bazaar," 1,600 metres below, said Satish Neupane, one of the organisers of the event.

Although the majority of participants were foreigners, Sudip Kuglung Rai, a 26-year-old Nepalese runner, bagged first place by completing the 42.2-kilometre marathon in three hours, 42 minutes and nine seconds. 

"I was not much hopeful that I would finish on top... I am really pleased," Rai said in a press release issued by the organisers.

Bad weather forced organisers to move the starting point from Everest Base Camp -- located at an altitude of 5,364 metres -- to Gorakshep, after it was blanketed by five-inch-thick snow.

"This year the race was tough and dangerous. It was chilling cold for last three days," said Robert Celinski, a Polish participant who was first among the foreign category.

Every year, marathon runners intersect with Everest climbers on their way home, but this season, the world's tallest peak effectively shut down after a massive ice avalanche killed 16 Nepalese guides last month. 

Runners from around the world including the UK, Canada, Australia, China and Germany, participated in this year's race.  

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