Jody, Jodie, and Gabe believe they became the first people to complete the epic journey on foot after deciding on the location by drunkenly spinning a globe and pointing at random
Three friends ran 258 miles (400km) at altitude across remote mountains after making a drunken bet – and believe they could be the first people in history to complete the journey on foot.
Jody Bragger, Jodie Gauld, and Gabe Ghiglione embarked on a gruelling journey that tested them both mentally and physically, as they ran over a marathon distance every day – in scorching heat and at high altitude.
They chose the location after Jody and Gabe had a few drinks and egged each other on, and decided to spin the globe and point at a random destination – promising to complete a run wherever their finger landed.
To their shock, fate sent them to Tajikistan in Central Asia, and they ran from the border of Afghanistan to China, across the Bartang Valley, which is known as one of the most remote and desolate areas in the world and passes through the Pamir Mountains.
Jody said: “I’m an alright runner, but an even better drunk.
“The drunken bet became my obsession, I knew nothing about Tajikistan, looking at the country I wasn’t even sure where to start.
“I served as an army officer in Afghanistan, by going back I’d be able to put that part of my life behind me.
“We had a map and a rough idea of the route, the days would be hot and dry, the nights below freezing.
“For anyone, the distance is a long way – but deep down we thought we could probably do it. We didn’t really know what was going to happen, but I guess that’s the best kind of adventure.”
Throughout the journey, the trio tackled many obstacles, including belligerent visa officials, illness, injuries – and the natural hurdles, including running at altitude and the weather conditions.
At one stage, they had to cross a high altitude plateau – known as the Roof of the World – that sits near the top of the Pamir Mountains, which are 25,095ft (7,649m) high.
Jody continued: “It’s a whole another ball game running up here. I can only really describe it as someone repeatedly banging a sledgehammer on your sternum every time that you breathe. I literally feel like I’m running my first ever 5K.”
But, after seven days, they completed their journey and arrived at lake Karakul – having run more than a marathon distance every day.
Jody said: “This run has never been about a start, or a particular finish line, or conquering some sort of mountain, or being the fastest person to do it.
“It was about running and it was about running through a place we’d never heard of before and we knew nothing about.”
While Jody was the lead organiser of the trip, he said that he couldn’t have done it without Gabe and Jodie.
Gabe, original from Toronto, had never run an ultramarathon before but jumped at the chance.
Talking to Running Magazine, he said: “I like to just jump into things even if I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into and you always kind of figure it out. When I have my mind set to something, I’ll chase it down, and I’ll make it happen.”
When Jody needed a third runner, Gabe suggested his friend Jodie, from Cornwall.
She said: “Gabe called me and said do you want to go and do a run with us for like ten days in Tajikistan and I was like yeah great, let’s do it.”
Their epic journey was documented by Alexis Tymon and Ben Crocke of Sourcy Films and their film, Running the Roof, is being shown as part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival which is currently touring across the country.