A trip from extreme depths to extreme altitude

Sergeant Quinn Musgrave (right), retired Corporal Mike Musgrave, and Greg Schnarr, family friend, get ready for the Tenzing Hilary Everest Marathon at the Khumbu Icefall, Nepal.

Sergeant Quinn Musgrave (right), retired Corporal Mike Musgrave, and Greg Schnarr, family friend, get ready for the Tenzing Hilary Everest Marathon at the Khumbu Icefall, Nepal.

A/SLt Gokhan Nas

Kateryna Bandura
Lookout Editor

When his father suggested they run one of the most brutal marathons on Earth, a Canadian Submarine Force (CANSUBFOR) submariner knew it would be a challenge.

Sergeant (Sgt) Quinn Musgrave, Chief Cook of HMCS Corner Brook, joined his father, retired Corporal Mike Musgrave, to run the Everest Marathon on May 29. The trek also allowed the pair to mark Mike’s 60th birthday on May 28.

“Extreme hiking has always been the case with our family,” Sgt Musgrave said. “I thought trying the Everest Marathon would be super cool, but, at the same time, I knew how tough it would be.”

The father/son duo have run multiple marathons in the past and have added the World’s Highest Marathon to their accomplishments.

Tenzing Hilary Everest Marathon is the highest marathon in the world, with the starting line at an altitude of 5,356m at the Khumbu Icefall. It passes through the highest elevation in the world through monasteries, monuments, suspension bridges, and spectacular landscapes. It also passes through a world-renowned heritage site: Tengboche Monastery.

The pair started the acclimatization trek on May 17 from Lukla, Nepal, at an elevation of 2,860m up to the Base camp. It took 12 days. Both faced challenging moments during the race.

“You will get altitude sickness where the trees stop growing because there’s less oxygen for them to grow,” Sgt Musgrave said. “So, I learned to push myself through headaches while running and fighting with altitude to breathe.”

Although Mike did not get altitude sickness, he did have a mild headache. Both also veered off the track once.

Of the 156 runners who came from all over the world, Sgt Musgrave completed the marathon in 70th place (8º 45’ 24”), and his father finished in 81st place (9º 6’ 3”).

In 2013, Mike completed the Mount Everest Ultra Marathon to celebrate his 50th birthday with his wife, retired Captain Susan Musgrave, and decided to run again for his 60th birthday, this time with his son. He noted a lot has changed since then.

“This time, we had water stops and food stops, this time it was marked,” he said. “I could not believe how far the Khumba Icefall receded in 10 years.”

Mike was a vehicle technician in the Canadian Army. He completed runs in Africa and has run many races with the Canadian Military. He also hiked and ran a marathon at the bottom of Mount Kilimanjaro. He released in 2013.

The pair agreed that one of the biggest highlights of the adventure was meeting the local people, experiencing their culture, hospitality and friendship, and enjoying the amazing scenery of Nepal.

“I’ve never met friendlier people than the Nepalese people,” Mike said.

During their time in Nepal, they played soccer with the children at one of the villages they passed and bought them a new soccer ball and candy afterwards. Sgt Musgrave distributed CANSUBFOR stickers and ballcaps to the marathon guides. They also met two British-Nepalese Gurkhas (Nepalese soldiers) from Pokhara and Kathmandu on the way to the top, who were supporting the marathon. Sgt Musgrave traded patches with them, as well as tales of military life in Nepal and Canada.

Sgt Musgrave has been in the Canadian Armed Forces for over 18 years. He said his training prepared him for the challenges during the race.

“Having a military experience of tough situations really helps to deal with it because you’re putting your focus on the mission, no matter what you’re put through,” he said.

This is not the end for extreme family adventures: Mike is already planning to return to Mount Everest for his 70th birthday, this time with Sgt Musgrave and his grandson, who is currently nine.

“I would like to have been faster; the competition is on next time,” Mike said.

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