World’s cruelest ultra-marathon
The La Ultra attracts a large number of volunteers from India and abroad. Volunteers are an integral part of our event and very important to us. However, we are very selective in who we accept as a volunteer because this can be a dangerous event. Safety of runners and volunteers is paramount to us. We provide information here that will help individuals make a decision on whether they want to volunteer at all. Information here will also help prospective volunteers prepare themselves adequately before coming to Leh-Ladakh.
Volunteers are also requested to review the How to Prepare section that will be added shortly.
First-time volunteers should review all the information provided in the Volunteers area. Once you are convinced that you want to volunteer, we invite you to register as a volunteer. The organisers will review your application and will formally communicate acceptance. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept all volunteers that register and request you to make travel plans and other preparation after you have been accepted.
The La Ultra presents some of the toughest conditions to runners and volunteers. The high altitude requires each volunteer to be extremely careful with acclimatisation and must take necessary precautions. The weather conditions can be very unpredictable and you can expect to experience extreme conditions of heat and cold. Volunteers will be required to support their runners for 72 hours during the event and must be prepared to work with very little sleep and away from their daily comforts. Do not expect ready access to warm indoors, toilets and fine cuisine! You must be prepared to take into your stride whatever a situation throws at you.
The demanding conditions require that volunteers must be in good general health and relatively fit. They must have the stomach to work in tough conditions. There is very little room for whining and your patience will be tested regularly. In a nutshell, if you don’t enjoy the adventure that such conditions can present, we suggest that you reconsider your decision to volunteer.
Responsibility, Maturity and Discpline
Volunteers must deal maturely with all situations thrown at them. They are responsible for the safety of the runners and others and must not put themselves or others to unnecessary risks. There is no room for macho thinking or acts.
Volunteers must work within the instructions provided to them by the organisers and runners. They must accept decisions made by the Medical team and the Race Director. Volunteers must exhibit self-discipline and must act responsibly to themselves and others.
Adventure and Fun
If you enjoy fun and adventure, then the La Ultra is just the event that you want to be a part of. At many times, the whole experience will seem out-of-this-world! A good sense of humor is very important and we welcome wit and humor.
Volunteers must be prepared to meet their personal expenses. These typically include the following:
- Travel to Leh and back home.
- Boarding & Lodging for approximately two weeks during the acclimatisation period. The organisers arrange for shared accommodation and you can expect this to cost about INR 18-25,000.
- You might need to invest in some gear and special clothing. Depending on what you already possess, you might need to spend an additional INR 5,000 – 15,000. Or may be nothing at all if you have all the necessary gear
Be prepared to dedicate yourselves full-time during the race schedule at La Ultra. Even though you will get time to play tourist and you might even get time to get some work done, it is best to expect that you will dedicate 100% of your time to your role as a volunteer.
Leh-Ladakh is one of the remotest parts of India. Do not expect to get good connectivity to the Internet or even to phone networks. In our experience, BSNL and Airtel PostPaid plans work best in Leh but may not work outside of Leh. If your work or personal life requires you to remain connected with family, friends or your office, you should expect to have very little or zero connectivity while you are in Leh-Ladakh.
You will be working closely with others who are complete strangers to you coming into this event. This requires you to understand that everybody is different, but they all share the same goals. Your patience will be tested more than once, but you will need to ensure that you work through as calmly as you can. Losing your temper or getting into an argument never helps in a situation, and certainly will not help you at the La Ultra.
Be prepared to listen to others who have experience at the La Ultra or have experience with crewing in other runs. Life itself seems to move slower in Leh-Ladakh! Take in the sights and sounds around you and enjoy this singular experience.
Smoking and Alcohol
We strongly recommend that you abstain from smoking and alcohol for the entire duration of your volunteering sting at the La Ultra. Alcohol can dehydrate you and will add to the dangers of high altitude. You will already be oxygen deprived and smoking can make this worse quite easily.
Respect for Locals
The Ladakhis are simple and hard-working people. The region is open to visitors for about three months in a year and in a way this is the only time for the locals to earn their living. Most business are self-owned or family run and will do whatever possible to meet your expectations, having said that, volunteers must not expect modern urban life, amenities and service in Leh-Ladakh. Do not expect efficiency because you will end up being frustrated. Remain in the moment and take it as it comes.
Leh-Ladakh is pretty safe as far as personal safety goes. However, we strongly recommend that you move around in pairs, especially during late night in Leh. If you do not speak Hindi (or Ladakhi!), we recommend that you move around with a Hindi-speaking companion as much as possible. You can get by with English only, but it will be difficult.
Leh-Ladakh is a sensitive region and foreigners should be aware of permit requirements for certain areas. Try and use local guides to help you. We recommend that you carry some form of identification on you at all times.
All volunteers will be required to sign a Waiver agreement with us without exceptions. Basically, this is a simple agreement that states that you are at the La Ultra out of your own volition and that you will not hold us responsible for any damage to self, loss of life (!) or your equipment.