Tue 26 Sep 2023 • Nick Kershaw
Regenerative Travel and the Nepal Impact Marathon: Running for a Better World
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The concept of regenerative travel is shaping the future of tourism pushing it towards more sustainable, equitable, and meaningful experiences. But what if we applied this progressive approach to sports events? As with all our Impact Marathons, we are very aware that we need to create a positive impact that far outweighs the impact of travel.
Today, we are going to review how we do that with the Nepal Impact Marathon, a transformative race that transcends any usual tick-box motivations for running a marathon. The event serves as a powerful microcosm of how sport, travel, and societal good can symbiotically coalesce, offering not just a path to personal achievement but to a better world.
What is Regenerative Travel?
Before diving into the Nepal Impact Marathon, it's important to understand what regenerative travel means. Simply put, it's an approach to tourism that aims to leave a place better than how it was found. It's not just about minimising your footprint but adding value to the local environment and community. You aren't merely a spectator or a consumer; you're a participant in a complex ecosystem, contributing to its well-being. This means that our choices of where we stay, how we stay, and the activities we both directly and indirectly engage in are all crucial elements of how we create an event.
The Intersection with Sport
Traditional marathons often come with a heavy toll on the environment and local communities, with energy gels, plastic cups, and carbon emissions from international flights where we land, run, and takeoff all in the space of a few hours, or couple of days. At the Nepal Impact Marathon runners engage in local projects aimed at uplifting the community and conserving the environment. We want each Impact Runner to fully engage with the community in which they run - connecting with the incredible individuals you are travelling with, as well as the awesome humans that host us in each location. The race isn't just set against a backdrop of jaw-dropping Himalayan landscapes; it plays an active role in safeguarding them.
The Power of Connection
One of the salient features of this marathon is its ability to foster a profound connection between runners and the local Nepali communities. Visits to project sites and the narrative of each community with work with are seamlessly woven into your time in Nepal. When you cross the finish line, you don't just take home a medal but an enriched worldview, fortified by tangible change and deep connections.
Real Impact, Quantified
The Nepal Impact Marathon goes beyond the veneer of 'doing good' to establish measurable impact. Funds raised are channelled directly into local projects, with full transparency on how the money is spent and the change it engenders. This isn't charity; it's empowerment. And it's not vague, lofty ambition; it's concrete, quantifiable impact. When you register, you will be encouraged to fundraise for the most powerful project decided upon by the community and the Nepal Impact team led by development expert Urgen Lama. In 2023, we are setting out to install 10 water filtration systems in 10 schools on the mountain where we stay. This is an immensely ambitious plan that will have a tangible impact on every single school. Clean drinking water is a human right, and schools that offer this see a rise in attendance and a drop-in absences from water-borne illnesses particularly during monsoon season. Furthermore, children will take the clean water home to their families. Through our partners SmartPaani we will be providing WASH education programs, and covering the maintenance of the filters and pipes into the future.
The Ethical Quandary of Air Travel
Let's tackle the elephant in the room: the carbon footprint of flying to Nepal. While it's a valid concern, the marathon goes to lengths to offset this through various sustainability initiatives, from reforestation to renewable energy projects. We are renewing our partnership with Stand For Trees to offer all Impact Runners a chance to offset. S4T focus on areas of 4.5 million hectares of rainforest, and work with communities to improve livelihoods in these areas. We are passionate about the power of travel and believe that we, as humans, must have our eyes forward to solve the challenge we are facing. We encourage airlines to push forward with new energy systems to empower all future generations to be able to travel without the level of emissions we currently create. The idea is not to negate the responsibility but to augment it with a commitment to create net-positive impact. If you are going to fly to a race this year, stay longer, impact greater, and connect further than you have before - this is literally why we started Impact Marathons. Not to be perfect, but to show what is possible, and what the future of travel and events can look like if we have the courage to challenge the norm.
Your Next Step Towards a Better World
If we accept that travel and sporting events are powerful instigators of change in our lives, then we must also accept the responsibility to evolve them for the greater good. The Nepal Impact Marathon isn't just a race; it beckons us to run not just for ourselves, but for a world that's in dire need of positive change.
So, if you're thinking of lacing up your trainers for your next big adventure, consider Nepal. Consider a marathon that doesn’t just benefit you, but extends its reach to uplift communities and preserve nature. In doing so, you're not just a runner; you're a changemaker in trainers.