Our Guides Take On the Everest Marathon

Already heard about Mel and Elder’s Everest Marathon challenge and want to donate?

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Active Hearts banner

Our guides are pretty amazing people. They’re understanding, adaptable, enthusiastic, hilarious, superhuman backpack carrying superstars, who also happen to be awesome drivers and talented chefs, among lots of other great things. Mel, from Christchurch, New Zealand, and Elder, from Puerto Maldonado, Peru, are no different.

Elder began working for Active Adventures in Peru, and has since moved to New Zealand to be with his partner Ellie, where he guides for us. Elder now also guides for us in the Himalayas.

Elder Everest Base Camp Peru Flag
Elder proudly displaying the flag of his home country, Peru, at Everest Base Camp

Mel has guided for us in New Zealand for a number of years, and also guides for us in the Himalayas during the New Zealand off-season. Our Himalayas trips are overseen by experienced Kiwi Dan Keys, a New Zealand and Nepal guiding superstar.

Mel selfie EBC training
Mel grabbed this selfie whilst out training in the Everest Region. We’re not sure if it’s a smile or a grimace. You decide!

DK spends a large portion of each year in Nepal, and has established the Active Hearts Foundation, a charity focused on helping remote villages of the Himalayas.

Gokul-and-DK
Guides Gokul and DK grab a quick selfie during a rest on the trail

Here’s what DK had to say about Active Hearts Foundation:

“The Active Hearts Foundation is a group of trekking guides, family and friends from New Zealand, Nepal and the world, who lead expeditions through the Himalayas and want to give something back to the communities they live and work in. The Nepalese are wonderfully humble and caring folk who constantly make trekking tours magic by sharing their homes, culture and friendship. Active Hearts was formed to build school libraries in the remote villages of our local guides and porters and to assist with other small community projects. Since the devastating earthquakes of 2015 the focus has been on emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation and medical assistance.”

Having spent a lot of time in Nepal, the amazing local people, and the story of their resilience in a life with almost nothing have become a big part of the lives of both Mel and Elder. So they’ve decided it’s time for them to try to give something back to all of the smiling faces they pass every day on the trails of the Himalayas – so they’re doing the Everest Marathon and raising money for the Active Hearts Foundation. How cool is that?!

The race is on the 29th of May this year, and the pair are squeezing in as much training as they can alongside their busy guiding schedule in the Mount Everest region. You can follow both Mel and Elder’s training by checking out their blogs, Mel’s is here, and Elder’s is here. Watch this space for some more photos from the Himalayas, the guys’ training sessions, and the race day itself!

If you feel like donating to this amazing cause, then you can do so by clicking the button below. DK, Mel, and Elder will be extremely grateful.

Make a Donation

Guides Nick and Elder Take on the Motatapu Race

For those of you lucky enough to have been guided on an Active Adventures trip by Nick or Elder (or both if you were extra lucky!), you’ll be aware that they’re a couple of blokes who can’t get enough of the great outdoors. When they’re not guiding for us in New Zealand, they can be found leading guests on hiking trails in our other destinations – Nick in Europe, and Elder in Nepal. If you’re not familiar with these particular Active Adventures guides, check out the picture below:

Elder Nick lupins
Elder (left) and Nick appreciating the beautiful lupins during a ‘Weka’ trip

Nick and Elder often guide our New Zealand Biking Adventure ‘Weka’ trips together, and so are really good friends who are used to pushing each other to work hard when they’re out riding. 2018 is proving no different for these two so far, and they’ve decided they want to take on the challenge of one of New Zealand’s most popular races, the 47km Motatapu Mountain Bike Race.

Nick and Elder love their bikes so much, that they’ll be competing in the Motatapu midway through a 2-week ‘Weka’ trip as the race falls perfectly on the day the group will spend exploring Queenstown, close to where the race will finish. We managed, somehow, to catch up with Nick and Elder and quiz them on their decision to race in the Motatapu, their training, and if they’re in it to win it.

Q: Have you competed in this race before? What’s the terrain going to be like?

Nick: “This is the sixth time for me. There’s plenty of up and plenty of rivers!”

Elder: “It’s my second time, I love it. The terrain starts with a 15km road section, then it’s onto the single track, lots of ups, but some downs too!”

Q: Are you guys really competitive? Will you be racing to win or just out there to enjoy yourselves?

Nick: “I think everyone wants to win. But it will be a great team challenge. We’re always finding ways to compete with each other, especially on bikes! Ultimately we’ll be competing as a team, and we’re not allowed to be more than 2 minutes apart at any time during the race, so I’d say we’ll be pushing each other pretty hard!”

Elder: “Sure. I want to win. Sorry we want to win! Haha. I’d say I’m competitive but not obsessed.”

Q: Any secrets you’re willing to share with us about training, preparation, or staying fuelled during the race?

Nick: “Peanut butter is key. Haha! Seriously though, it is. There’ll definitely be a Fergburger or two involved in my pre and post race meals too.”

Elder: “I try and eat something every 6km or so. And before the race I’ll be loading up on carbs and making sure I eat a good breakfast.”

Q: Have you done much training? I guess the ‘Weka’ trips you’ve been guiding are enough….?

Nick: “You can always do more training but yeah the Weka trips have helped me keep a steady fitness.”

Elder: “I have been doing lots of running (I’m also running the Everest Marathon in May!) so I’ve been training for that, and of course some biking too. The Weka trips have been really helpful for endurance for biking, it’s a different kind of strength than marathon running.”

The Macpac Motatapu Race is taking place on Saturday the 10th of March, and we’ll make sure that the guys have a team of fans waiting at the finish line in Arrowtown with a cold beer for them! Whilst the boys aren’t riding the race for charity, if they do manage to win any money they intend to donate it to the Queenstown Trails Trust, a charity committed to developing a network of public trails around the Wakatipu Basin. Elder will be running the Everest Marathon in May this year, so watch this space for more details on that, and how you can donate to his chosen charity, Active Hearts Himalayas.

Other useful info:

  • New Zealand Biking Adventure ‘Weka’ trip
  • Best Adventure Activities in New Zealand

“For me, this was the best experience I’ve ever had.”

Share this page on: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest A group cheering and waving near Mt Cook.The crew from Andrea’s ‘Kiwi’ trip celebrating at Braemar Station.

Over the last twenty years or so we’ve been honing our skills in adventure travel. We started with a group of three guests on a trip around New Zealand’s South Island in 1996, and have progressed to taking groups to nine different countries on four different continents. As kiwis we are famous for our hospitality, we love welcoming people, taking care of people, and sharing in experiences with people. When our guests finally arrive in New Zealand, they’ll often pop into our office in Queenstown mid-trip, because like us, friendships are so important to them. We love being able to put a face to the voice we hear on the phone before the trip!

A group poses for a photo at Active Adventures HQ.A group of Active adventurers meet Lynette and Fiona at Active HQ in Queenstown.

That hospitality, and the sharing of experiences with new visitors to any of the countries we travel in, are the reasons we love doing what we do. And it’s guests like Andrea Rudolph (recently returned from New Zealand adventures) who help us to remember that: ‘Not only was the scenery breathtaking and the tour well run but our fun loving adventurous group made it even more special. Even the experienced travelers in our group felt it was the best tour they had ever been on. It’s been difficult to settle back into my ’normal’ life after such a life-changing experience.’

We find that guests on our adventures, because they always share common interests (adventure being just one!) really buy in to this idea that sharing the experience makes it so much more powerful. The willingness to be honest and open with one another about your life, and your achievements, and even your regrets, adds another dimension to the experience in a way that we find difficult to put in to words.

Andrea wrote some lovely comments about her South Island Explorer trip the ‘Kiwi’. On top of that she also took the time to write an awesome poetic review about the trip, here’s some of our favourite bits:

Active Adventures had everything planned

For a ‘better than average’ trip to Kiwi land

Our fearless leaders, Rachel and Koru

In every instance knew what to do

prepped us on schedules and weather every day

And tried hard to make us listen to what they’d say.

Koru told myths of Maoris and war

His tales were creative and never a bore

He showed us plants like the silver fern

This land is so varied there’s a lot to learn.

The Hector’s dolphins near the beach were rare

They amazed us by doing flips in the air

At the wildlife center we saw kiwis being fed

And heard how they’re kept safe till they’re bred.

 Braemar gave us bright stars at night

Sharing toilets and co-ed showers was also a delight

We ran through the hills, and drank lots of wine

Singing old songs and jingles, it was divine.

New Zealand is perfect except for the sandflies

Which bite all our legs as they drop from the skies

They even dare follow us into the van

Where we smash them on windows as fast as we can.

I tried really hard to write something clever

To celebrate our group and the best trip ever

Though our journey is over and we’re all back home

We can laugh and remember when we read this poem.

So when our guests return home, from adventures in New Zealand, South America, Nepal, or Europe, they return home with a warm fuzzy feeling that never wears off. And it’s that warm fuzzy feeling, and those unforgettable moments that so often lead to our guests travelling with us again: ‘I’ve spent lots of time researching my next trips. I will definitely go on the Iguana trip. and I will definitely keep checking your website for new trips I can take in the next several years.’ And when those guests take the time to write such amazing comments as the ones Andrea sent us, that warm fuzzy feeling is transferred to everyone involved with Active Adventures, and reminds us all why we love this job.

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