Lesley Mochan climbed 10,000 metres, descended 8000 metres, ran 200km, slept in a monastery in the mountains of Bhutan, suffered altitude sickness - and says it was the most incredible experience of her life.

The Tauranga adventure runner spent six days running through the Himalayas earlier this month and says, two weeks on, her body has finally recovered.

The Last Secret in Bhutan was the most physically challenging event she had ever taken on - "much harder" than the ultra-marathons, the ironman events and the Everest marathon she had done leading up to it.

Five days in to the gruelling run, with blisters covering the balls of her feet and 54km to run that day, temperatures climbed to 27C and Ms Bhutan admitted crying in pain after 35km.


"Once I got to 35km, I was over it," she said.

"My legs were had it at that stage but I was moving along okay just walking."

She ran and walked for more than nine hours that day and it was remembering she was fundraising for the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre that kept her going.

That, and knowing some friends at home would never let her live it down if she did not finish, she laughed.

By the final day she knew she "had it in the bag".

"It was so emotional finishing the race," she said.

"It was incredible. I just kept thinking, 'you did it, you did it'."

Crossing the finish line at a monastery 3000m high was just one of many highlights for her.

"He [race founder Stefan Betzelt] designs his races so it's not just about the running," she said.

The scenery was "incredible", crossing three 3500m saddles along the way, through padi fields, along cliffs and through farming villages.

Nights were spent with the other 32 runners, meeting and getting to know monks in the monasteries or locals in the farming villages.

In one village they met a man who had four wives and 11 children, she said.

It was a great way to see a country and get an insight into the people's every day lives, she said.

"We got to sleep in the same room as the monks.

"We got to talk to them about what it was like being a monk in Bhutan.

"It was really nice to get their perspective on what their lives were like."

They even got to take on the monks in a soccer game at 3600m. The monks proved their ability and certainly their advantage in high altitude, she said.

Of the 33 runners, 31 finished the race and Ms Mochan thought she came in the early 20s somewhere. She made time to enjoy the scenery, take photos and get to know people along the way.

"I made an effort to say hello to every local person I saw and I think only two didn't respond... And the school children were high fiving us. It was great."

Happy to be home and nearly fully recovered, Ms Mochan said it was the trip of a lifetime.

Would she do it again? "No".

Would she recommend it to others? "Oh, absolutely. Without a doubt."

Fast Facts on Bhutan:

* Population: 970,000
* Capital: Thimphu; 35,000
* Area: 46,500 square kilometers (17,954 square miles)
* Language: Dzonkha, Tibetan and Nepali dialects
* Religion: Lamaistic Buddhist, Hindu
* Currency: Ngultrum, Indian rupee
* Life Expectancy: 66
* GDP per Capita: U.S. $1,300
* Literacy Percent: 42