Friday, July 3, 2009

Marathon des Sables 2010 – The toughest foot race on earth

This extraordinary outdoor race is both a great human adventure and a sporting challenge as competitors try to conquer the vastness of the desert. It also takes you on an intense voyage within yourself, uniting a multitude of languages and cultures from all over the world.

The race covers 243km/151 miles run over 6 days – equivalent to 5 ½ regular marathons. In addition to that competitors have to carry everything they will need for the duration (apart from a tent) on their backs. I will carry my own backpack containing food, water, sleeping gear and other material.

I will need to carry and prepare all my own food during the race, unfortunately Spinneys hasn’t made it to the Sahara yet! Water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint and it is absolutely essential to manage consumption throughout the race.

I will experience:
· midday temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius
· running or walking on uneven rocky stony ground
· between 15% - 20% of the distance being in sand dunes

The heat, distance and rubbing will trash my feet and may cause severe trauma if incorrect shoes and equipment are used. Mental stamina probably constitutes at least 50% of whether I will complete the distance or not.

One of the longest stages take place on the 4th day, I will set off across the barren wilderness to complete a 72-80 kilometer stage. Few people complete this before dark the same day and some will not come in until after dark the next night. This is immediately followed with a full marathon distance. Remind me why I am doing this again....?

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