During training recently for the 100-mile Thailand UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc), my buddy and I came face to face with a swarm of Giant Asian Hornets aka Murder Hornets while descending the steepest part at Doi Pui, a 1645m mountain in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
Thinking I could run around them, I veered left toward the side of a ridge that is actually a 500m drop off a cliff. At that moment I felt the first stings in my ear and on the back of my head. The pain sensation was like having a red hot electrified nail being hammered into your flesh.
Immediately disoriented and fearing that I might trip or simply run off the cliff, I was forced to turn toward the nest, which was at the base was in a tree on the trail. I fell down hard and was stung many times in seconds and had to go into full survival flight mode.
The hornets were relentless and chased me for at least 2-300m before finally letting up. All I could say at that moment was "that's fckd up"! It was an extremely painful and dangerous ordeal that hurt like crazy! My buddy, who had fled out of sight, had returned to get me, so we could walk down to a nearby hill tribe village to try and find a ride to the hospital about one hour away.
We immediately found a savior, who drove us to the emergency of the nearest hospital. I was stung 15 times and my friend Glen eight times. After blood tests and medicine by IV drips, he was allowed to return home. However, the doctor told me I must stay in hospital for 1-3 nights due to risk of kidney failure. Thankfully, I stayed just one night and only had to see a doctor each of the next two days. Within four days both of us had fully recovered.
One week after our scary encounter with the Asian Giant Hornets, Glenn and I went back up the mountain to thank the hill tribe villager who drove us to the hospital one hour away in Chiang Mai. His name is Ya.
He met us with a big smile on his face saying "gin, gin". Unsure about what he meant we replied ‘gin?’ We knew what gin (to eat in Thai) was, but in the context of murder hornets, we weren't sure.
So we asked him, you ate them? “Yesss, gin!!!” What he told us was an incredible surprise and had us screaming and laughing with pure delight! We yelled “hero, superman!!” with high-fives all around. Pulling out his mobile phone, he showed us the photos, exclaiming “aroy mak-mak (very delicious in Thai)!!
Ya explained that he had gone back up the hill to catch the hornets for a good meal and in doing so ended the Asian Giant Hornets menace in the middle of the popular hikers and trail runners trail. A new Thailand Trail Running legend was born! Thanks Ya!