Carissa Liebowitz likes to push her body’s limits, but it’ll be hard to top the challenge she completed in May.
The Suwanee resident and metro-Atlanta native ran a marathon — down Mount Everest, the highest peak on the planet.
She arrived in Nepal on May 15 for a race that began May 29, the same day in 1953 the first recorded humans summited the peak. First, there was the trek up the mountain.
“We started trekking on Sunday and it took us until the following Monday to get there,” Liebowitz said. “There are no roads.”
On foot, hikers went up in groups. It’s critical for hikers to acclimate themselves to the steep changes in altitude as they climb. It takes groups anywhere between a week to 10 days to reach base camp at approximately 17,500 feet.
She tried to plan the adventure with a pair of friends, but when life got in their way she stuck to her plan and went alone. When would she have a better chance to be so adventurous? Staying in tents at the camp, she had the chance to meet people from all over the world. To her surprise, it was some people’s first marathon.
“If I recommended this to others, I would tell them to have at least one trip and try to climb something close to 14,000 feet just so they know how their body will react,” she said. “There is a lot of time and money on this particular trip. Two of our groups couldn’t complete the climb because of altitude sickness.”
Liebowitz has completed 20 regular-length marathons and 40 ultra marathons. She tried training with the Georgia Death Race, an ultra-marathon through the mountains in Blairsville, near Georgia’s highest peak at Brasstown Bald. She also ran the Boston Marathon, but there’s nothing quite like the trek up and down Everest.
“In terms of training for altitude that’s the thing I was flying by the seat of my pants,” she said. “I didn’t feel great but there was nothing life-threatening — a headache and fatigue. Guys that live at altitude get headaches and don’t feel great.”
The metro Atlanta native has been running since she was a middle schooler. She ran her first marathon at 27 and her first ultra in 2016. She’s run 100-mile races, but her focus now is on traveling abroad for more ultra races.
“I have my sights set on doing some of the world major marathons, but then I’m also looking at other countries,” She said. “Everest is kind of the creme de la creme of crazy adventures, but there are other things out there.”