Why is this one of the hardest races on earth?
The race was first run 26 years ago when Patrick Bauer ran his own race unsupported across 300km of the Sahara. He wanted others to take part in a similar experience and set up the Marathon de Sables. Over 10,000 people have since run the race with over 800 competitors from around the world now racing each year. In the UK alone, there is a waiting list of 2000 people to even get on the race. So I am not alone in my madness to complete this challenge.
The race itself covers 151 miles of desert in sections of approximately 25, 34, 38, 82, 42, 22 km and this is run over 6 days (sometimes 7 if you do not finish the double marathon in the two days allowed). In addition to running one must carry all their equipment with them to survive for the duration of the race (so this is clothing, food, emergency medical kit, torch, compass, cooking equipment etc.) Water is rationed and handed out at each check point.
The temperatures mid day could reach 120 F degrees and the terrain will vary from rocks to sand with about 15-20% being run on sand dunes.
The heat, sand rubbing will trash your feet and could be immensely painful (to say the least) if incorrect shoes or equipment are used. The key to finishing the race is mental stamina, and even if you have run several marathons, the amount of mental stress you will need to endure can not be underestimated. Planning and training are vital to finishing this race.
Day 4 is the double marathon stage. If you are lucky you can complete this before nightfall and the following day is your rest day. However, many finish this in the dark the next night and have a few hours to recover before they have to head out again for the 42 km stage.
So I have been warned and I know what I’m letting myself in for.
Training is going well and this heat is perfect. I ran comfortably with a 5 kg pack in the heat on Tuesday for 2 hours 40 minutes and I felt good on Wednesday. My only slight injury is my Achilles which is slightly sore. So here’s to my long run on next Tuesday.
I’ll cover each particular training phase, strategies to cope with long runs, eating on the run and other key tips over the next few weeks. I will be doing this for 2 charities (F.R.O.D.O. and Against Malaria) as it will keep me going in the toughest moments both during training and in the race. If you want to keep up with my training then visit www.run.uk.net/training diary
We are organising a charity children’s duathlon event to be held on Sunday 20th September, if you are interested then please get in touch with me. All funds raised will go to F.R.O.D.O.
If you want to get fit for summer, why not try early morning bootcamps? The July bootcamp is in full swing. There will be an August bootcamp starting the 3rd, and running until the 14th August. Visit www.run.uk.net for more information or call Georgie on 07736 070612.