La Ultra The High Ultra Marathon

 Jup Brown, originally from Wanaka, shares his experience from running “La Ultra The High” Ultra marathon in Leh India in August.

jupI was here to run 333kms in 72hours going over 3 mountains of attitudes between 3200~5300m. The race had never been done before.

Runners from around the world where there to run the 3 different races, 111km 222km and 333kms which I was in. 17 runners altogether and 9 in the 333kms.

The first 10 days where spent getting use to living and running at the attitude, we were based in Leh which is at 3500m.  Leh is a amazing place with the huge 5000 – 6000 peaks surrounding the area and the zig zag roads that line the sides of the mountains. We were to be running 3 of the highest drivable roads in the world.

We hired local taxis most days and got them to take us up to different heights where we would either hang out for a hour or so or even run down the hill for 5kms and then walk back up so we would get more use to the attitude. It is a slow process and the way your body reacts changes everyday, Maybe great one day then no good the next.

We had a 15km trail run which was over 3 smaller passes of 4000m and it was either up or down, We just cruised along and I came in at 3hrs 30 mins.

I was excited to have my crewman Stanzin back helping me this year, he was amazing in 2012 and with my other crew guy Kavin helping him I felt good.

The start point was 100kms from Leh. It was a 6 hour drive to get there as the roads aren’t the best at the top. We wouldn’t have our crews for the first 90kms so we had drop bags at different spots, even though it is summer and it had been high 30’s the whole time when you get up to 5000m things change real fast.

The 17 of us lined up in the dark , there were more crew and organizers than athletes and we were in the middle of nowhere about to run the run of our lives. I I had 72hours to run 333kms.

The first section was 8kms of flat road heading towards the first mountain where it was 63kms to the top. Yes we had to climb from 3200m to 5400m over 63kms. There was a cut off at North Pullu the 48km mark  which for us in the 333 was 8 hours and 7 for the other races. I was running with 2012 champion Michael Nielsen and Kim Rasmussen both from Denmark. Amazing runners and I was happy to be able to head up the hill with them. We only just made the cut off and come in at 7hrs 50 mins.

The 111km and 222km cut off was a tough 7hrs and sadly all racers were out. All of the 333km runners made the cut off but then as we got higher and the attitude came into effect lots of things started happening.

jup2When I got to the top of the first Mountain called Khargdung La the view was amazing and I felt great, A quick medical check up of oxygen levels and I was off, Next check point was 78kms in 15 hrs. You might think going down hill would be easy but after almost 10 hours of climbing and being at 5400m it was a fast walk only.

Just as I turned for South Pullu I saw a ricksaw bike the guy was riding for world peace.

When I arrived at South Pullu I saw Jason, he was one of the leaders right from the start and now was lying in the back of a car with Attitude sickness, Sadly I heard a bit later that he was out.

I arrived in Leh at 4.30pm quick medical check up and a sleep. I had been going around 18 hours. As I headed out Micheal caught up with me and we run together.  About 5 hours later Micheal was out and there were 4 of us left in the race.

We made the 161km mark as the sun came up and right in front of me was Wari La. The 4 remaining runners where now within 15kms of each other.

I made the 30kms to the top of Wari La in 7 hours which I was happy with. Mark right behind me and Kim out in front. We headed down and straight away.

I wasn’t running at all as my legs were tired but walking well.

Then we heard that John was out, Damn it I thought.

I made 222km mark in 45hrs 20 mins.

I was super stoked to be here and had my medical check where I got the news that I wasn’t good, “How?” I was feeling great.

The doctors first took my oxygen levels and they listened to my lungs and said they wanted me to rest. When I woke after that hour they checked me again and said I couldn’t go on! They reckoned I had water on the Lungs which isn’t a good thing but I felt great.

jup3I WAS OUT. I was gutted.

We slept until 7am and hit the road to go find and support Kim and Mark who now where the last 2 standing. We got to them at Rumptse which was the base of the Tanglung La, The boys where now 60kms from the finish. They looked good for being out there so long. They both made the top in good time.

When the shock news came of Mark was out, He had pushed himself to the limit, so sad as he was at the 322km mark. Only 11kms from the finish line. Only Kim was left now.

Kim crossed the line in 71hrs 20mins. Truly amazing to be there and see my mate finish, The feeling was AWESOME. It had been a crazy 72 hours.

I was 3rd overall for distance covered , 222kms in 45 hrs 20mins.

I want to thank you to everyone- New Balance, Fuel Me, VSKIN, Friths Plumbing, BUFF Japan, airSUP, Foot Trainers, Nihombashi Nishikawa AIR, Recovery Service, DMS, Milf Sungalsses and all my friends and family who helped me get here and live another dream.

My next adventure – Running across the USA in 2015. Follow me at

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