Image of young Hari Bahadur Rokaya, victorious Everest marathon winner in his youth.
17 Nov, 2023 - North Nepal Travels and Treks

Hari Bahadur Rokaya: A Trail Runner’s Legacy(2023 )

While someone mentions trail running in Nepal, the name Hari Bahadur Rokaya resonates with it as a runner with a Guinness World Record. Hari Rokaya is a runner and a coach to many record-holder runners, as he trains and uplifts the upcoming generations of trail runners. Even at 58, he is still running with his students and providing them with free training. He was energetic and always ready for a run from an early age. While it may have been training for any other, he was running for fun and himself within his little universe. Even though he wasn't training for any marathons, nor did he have plans to run any races, running gave him a sense of freedom. Later, this evolved into his passion and became a weapon while he competed at national and international levels. 

Photograph of Hari Bahadur Rokaya, three-time Everest Marathon champion (1997, 1999, 2000), setting a Guinness World Record with a remarkable 3-hour and 50-minute finish time

In 1980 A.D., he tried to run for the National Game but wasn't selected. But in 1982, he was finally chosen for the National level Marathon in Kathmandu. Back then, no motor roads connected Jumla and Kathmandu, so he needed to travel from Jumla to India and then from India to Kathmandu. As a small child from a rural village, he had neither seen nor ridden any motor vehicle till now, so he suffered from motion sickness and vomited continuously during the journey.  In Kathmandu, he stayed at Bhote camp. Many small cars and vehicles used to roam around here, which he compared to slugs from his village, and his friends and senior found it amusing. 

His first National Level Marathon didn't go as he thought it would. It was his first race, but most of his competitors were seniors and had already participated in previous races. He was still confident he would win a medal, but the continuous motion sickness took a toll on his body, and he came fourth, unable to secure a position medal.  As he was growing up, Hari was also inspired by his brother. His brother also became a runner, but his drinking habits held back his full potential. Even though he drank occasionally, his brother didn't get any respect from other people, not even his friends or his family. So, Hari decided to follow in his elder brother's footsteps in the trail race and training, leaving behind his drinking habit. With his newfound determination, Hari started to train on his own. He didn't follow proper training regimes, "running freely ups and downs was my training method," says Hari.

With each passing day, Hari became faster; in 1983 (2040 B.S), he again came fourth in the National marathon Organized in Pokhara. He secured his first medal with 3rd position in 1984 (2041 B.S). In 1989 (2046 B.S), Hari Rokaya secured 1st position in the Rastriya Athlete Marathon and won his 1st gold medal. His winning streak began after this, and he was practically untouchable in Nepal. He completed many marathons after that; 5km and 10 km marathons no longer excited him, so he set his eyes on Ultra Marathons. He became first in the race held by Rastriya Khelkud Parishad and won his place in the World Marathon held in Japan. Without the knowledge of Hari Bahadur Rokaya, the then-coach of Rastriya Khelkud Parishad took the person to finish second from the same race to Japan. They were later brought to Nepal, with charges for illegally staying in Japan. He was frustrated with this kind of favoritism from Coaches, even at such high levels, so he decided to switch toward the Everest marathon. His training in the uphills and downhills is perfect for running in the Everest region, so he joined the Everest Marathon in 1993 (2050 B.S). 

Image capturing Hari Bahadur Rokaya participating in the North Nepal Travel Pokhara Trail Race Series and meeting with Mohan Bhandari

In his first race of the Everest Marathon, a Swiss boy came first with 4 hrs and 3 min, and Hari Badahur Rokaya came in second place with 4 hrs 17 min on the clock. After that, in 1955, he was participating for the second time when the sad news of 42 people being killed by an avalanche in Gokyo Ri came out. The race was then not officially completed as they didn't allow the participants to go to higher places, and he was also second in that race. On his third attempt in 1997, Hari won the first position in the Everest Marathon, but the world record was still standing, and during this time, he felt he could beat it with enough training. 

In 1999, the previous world record in the Everest Marathon was recorded to be 3hrs 59 min and 35 sec, but Hari completed the race in 3 hrs 56 min and 10 sec, ultimately beating the record by 3 min and 25 sec. It wasn't enough for him, so he broke his record again in 2000 by completing the race in 3 hrs 50 min and 23 sec. When he established his record, there were no proper paths, and if Yak was coming from the other route, they needed to run back until there was a pass for people and Yak. The trails now are extensive, with enough room for a Yak pass, adequately made, regularly checked, and maintained thoroughly. 

Records of Hari Bahadur Rokaya:




Selected for the National Level Marathon in Kathmandu.


Secured 4th position in the National Marathon in Pokhara.


Won 3rd position in the National Marathon.


Secured 1st position in the Rashtriya Athlete Marathon


Participated in the Everest Marathon (2nd position)


Won 1st place in the Everest Marathon


Broke the world record in the Everest Marathon (3 hrs 56 min 10 sec)


Broke his record in the Everest Marathon (3 hrs 50 min 23 sec)

During 2000s

Retired from national and international races at the age of 41


He started providing training in his home village, Jumla

Hari still remembers the trails from Everest Base Camp (5300 m) to Namche Bazaar, with ascends and descends that excited and challenged him simultaneously. Hari had a huge plan to conclude his racing years and retire with a bang, so with the target of completing the Everest Marathon in 3 hr and 38 min, he trained very rigorously. Hari Rokaya completed the four-day journey from Jumla to Rara and back to Jumla in a single day. However, the race didn't go as planned as he had a mild cough, which triggered altitude sickness, and Hari's dream wasn't fulfilled while he was the race winner.  After this race, Hari retired from national and international races at the age of 41 years and began to provide training in his home village, Jumla. Even now, Hari still guides the younger generations to live up to their dream.  

Hari Bahadur Rokaya, a renowned marathon runner in Nepal and Guinness World Record holder, providing free trail running training to mountain children, with a focus on motivating girls in a picturesque mountainous setting with snow patches on the ground and majestic mountain ranges in the background.

Even after so many years, the legacy of Hari Bahadur Rokaya continues, and the little ones he once trained are now leading the trail running in the world of Marathon.

Hari Bahadur Rokaya: “Nothing beats the Sense of Freedom while Running Freely”. 

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