Friday, February 26, 2010

My Inspiration....

When things start to get a bit tough......I think of these guys. It is so easy to take things for granted, small things like waking up in the morning and being able to put a pair of trainers on and go outside and run for a couple of miles...with your own legs. It is so easy to complain about small things when there is so many folks out there who will give anything to do one more 5k, climb a couple of flights of stairs, go for a body surf and play in the waves. I am doing the 2010 Marathon des Sables for Autism and this is something I have been very passionate about. Throughout this year leading up to April I have decided to dedicate the run to three other people in my life that I really care for:

The first person is a friend I met in Sun City, a Comrades Marathon legend and a rock solid man. Marvi Sheehan from Durban, South Africa. Marvi is unfortuanately half Australian and it is not his fault, as he has been converted to a proper South African. Legend has it that Marvi trekked down Africa starting in Egypt walking, running and paddling a surf board over crocidile infested river till he ended up in the mighty Zulu Kingdom that became his home in Africa. I met Marvi about 6 years ago in Sun City and my first thoughts of him was that he looked like a skinny Santa Claus in lifeguard uniform! I have just recently found out that Marvi is undergoing chemo for cancer treatment. Through all this Mike told me that Marvi is still getting up every morning for his moring run and that he is still actively involved with lifesaving in South Africa. He is a true legend and I want to be like Marvi when I a bit older..... When I run across the Sahara in April and things get tough I`ll think of all the abuse myself and Freddy had to put up with the old fart on our long Sun City rude for this blog. Thanks for reigniting running in us all those years back Marvi, those long runs out on the Pretoria highway will stay with me forever my friend. One last thought on Marvi is the night he returned to the flat in Sun City after Cules was staying with him. Cules left early in the afternoon to return to Dubai and knowing that Marvi comes home at night,strips into his adam`s suit and heads straight for bed,Cules placed an ironing board inside the bed on Marvi`s side (not sure how Cules knew this) and when Marvi leaped into the bed, he come down on top of the ironing board and man I am glad I was not there to hear what come out of his foul mouth! Cules you legend!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dubai`s MDS runners

In my last posting on the RAK half marathon I told you I met Jim McIntosh who will also be running the MDS come April. Earlier in the year I also got in touch with another crazy MDS`er, Veronica Rivera, so that is a total of three loonies here in the UAE that we know of. This coming Monday we will have our first meeting to discuss tactics and strategies on shaving off grams on our backpack weight ect! I will keep you posted with minutes of this meeting, I am so happy to have this support group as we would be able to plan togehter and share ideas and suggestions. I am hoping to get the threesome in a local news paper to help us raise awareness for our charities.

Where is my Raidlight bag??

I have been very good in getting my equipment order in as early as possible to give me some time to get familiar with the equipment and adjustments. When my first batch of equipment arrived I hurried across to the Dubai Central post office just to be frustrated to the max and seeing exactly how not to operate a post office. Inshalaa se moer.

The first raidlight bag I received was a 24l bag and I was a bit optimistic on the size and ordered another one, a 30 liter backpack which will be suitable for my requirements as I did not want to go there with not enough provisions seeing that this will be my first MDS. I received a notification from Likey`s that my new bag has been send and today I went to the post office for round 2 of post office horrors. After standing in numerous lines and speaking to at least 6 people they figured out my bag has been send back to the UK and no one can tell me why? Seriously........ Nothing in Morocco could possibly be as hard as dealing with the UAE postal services.

Sue from Likey`s will have the bag send back as soon as she gets it, so I am being pressed for time as I would like to have the bag double stitched and start working on packing combinations, so fingers crossed that the bag arrives sooner rather than later...........

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ras Al Khaima Half Marathon

A couple of months ago Fiona suggested that we run the RAK half marathon together as part of my preparations for the Marathon des Sables. Fi has never run 21k`s before and I could sense she was a bit nervous in the week leading up to the RAK 21k. We left for Ras Al Khaima on Thursday evening and arrived in RAK late in the evening. I was not too keen on leaving Dubai on raceday as I did not wanted to get lost on the way there and try and maximize on the sleep! We stayed in Rob Klok`s apartment near the town and I decided to try and sleep on the floor, testing out my new sleeping mat and Marmot sleeping bag.

Mariana who came with us arrived back from holiday to South Africa the day before and was looking seriously tired! After arriving in RAK we headed down to the local hangout in the marina and did some protein loading as the steak was really good as well as tucking into Um Ali, an arabic bread pudding! At around 11pm we headed to bed and set the alarms for 5h40. The first hour on the sleeping mat turned out fine and I actually thought that I would be able to sleep on the floor. The mat is surprizingly supportive and the sleeping bag seriously warm and light! But after about 2 hours I started looking at the bed as Fi was fast asleep and I chickend out and went into the bed!

We got up early the next morning and it took a little bit more encouragement to get Mariana out of bed. We munched bananas and washed it down with Gatorade and water and headed out to RAK town. This was the first time for us all running in RAK and it was nice seeing the mangroves and the mountains in the far distance, a nice change to the hustle and bustle of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The race started at 7h20 with a good turnout of runners and we headed into the town. As soon as we started I realized I needed a loo and hanged in till the 5k mark before I had to bail! Sorry Fi! I decided that I was going to run with Fi for the whole 21k`s as this was her first half marathon, and at first water point Fiona almost went pass without having some water. I quickly got her to drink some water as the last thing I wanted her to struggle was dehydration and from there on in she hydrated at regular intervals. We crossed the 10k mark in 1hr 06min and I must say I was stoked to see how strong Fi was looking. I knew however that come 15k`s, the fatigue will start setting in. Fi `s legs started hurting at 14k`s and I encouraged her a bit more and let her walk for two minutes to have some gummy bears and juice. We worked throught the last few k`s and Fiona did well to work her way to the finished line and finished her first half marathon in 2hr33min, very good time for a first time! I am very proud of you babe! Get ready for your first marathon in the near future!

At 18k`s I met up with another runner sporting a 16kg backpack and I immediately know this was another person preparing for the MDS 2010. I introduced myself to Jim McIntosh who is running for the charity Help for Heroes. It was good to see another backpack runner as I was running with 10kg `s on my back, my first long run with the Raidlight backpack. Jim gave me a piece of great advice to make sure I get my Raidlight Backpack double stitched as his backpack was already pulling apart in some areas.......that`s the last thing you want to be dealing with in the Sahara. 1 sowing kit will make up part of my kit.......! Jim`s fundraiser page can be found at:

So with just little over a month to go I am busy sorting out visas and possible last minute sponsors, will keep you updated with my progress.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blisters and missing toe nails!

Over the last couple of weeks I have really started feeling comfortable with my running. I can breeze through 20k`s with not too much effort and I believe my frame of mind is sound for the MDS. I have also been running without socks in the desert and have developed only two little blisters on each foot near the bridge of both. Nothing serious and not really bothering me, just need to wash the shoes after every run as there is so much sand and blood it looks terrible!

Hayd`s got me to run without socks and this is definitely working as I can feel my feet adjusting very well with not too many issues. The other problem is that I am losing two toe nails on my right foot and the one is almost completely fallen off. Like I said before, I rather get my feet as tough and hard as possible and hope to face no real issues when in Morocco.

I cannot believe how close departure day is, little over a month and two weeks till race day. In the coming weeks I have to apply for my French, Morrocan and British visas. What a pain it is being a travelling South African. I still curse 1970`s National Party for making life so complicated for all of us! Suppose I should look at it as part of the experience getting to the sands on Morocco. This year will be the 25th Edition of the MDS and I am sure we will be blown away by the organisers as they are labelling this as the greatest race in the 25 year history. I am sure there will be plenty sand stages, and hopefully the weather plays along and it is not too hot.

Summer is slowly creeping back here with the average temperature hovering near the 30`s. I dont mind the heat too much as I enjoy a good sweaty workout. Today I went out at midday and the weather was very pleasant. I headed out into the desert and managed my first run with full kit barring a couple of minor items. I felt very comfortable with the bag and after sorting out the front bag from bouncing all over the place, I was very comfortable. Tomorrow I`ll be running the RAK 21km with Fiona and will wear full kit for this run and just take it easy with Fi and get her through the race. This will be Fi`s first 21k`s and I am looking forward running this with her. She is a good runner but does not chat as much as my other running partner Haydn!
I also wanted to thank everyone for their donations to the Els for Autism Foundation, we slowly creeping up to the $10 000 mark! Keep em coming, you all rock!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Marmot Atom Sleeping bag and Themarest sleeping mat

This is my most expensive piece of equipment! I am sure it will be worth every Dirham spent on it as it is the lightest sleeping bag I have ever felt. The sleeping bag is extremely light and is also as soft as silk. The minimum temprature rating for the bag is 2C which should be fine for my race as the nights do not get that cold (I hope!). I will start sleeping with the bag from next month and will also be testing my sleeping mat!

My sleeping mat is the Thermarest Fast and Light Prolight.I have actually opened the mat and tested it and I was very suprised by the support offered by this sleeping mat. This will be an essential companion to the sleeping bag to make the nights in the Sahara as comfortable as possible. I will make sure to sleep as many nights as possible before I leave for Morocco on the floor so to get used to the flat surface and combine that with early morning runs to get the body used to running while recovering from sleeping stiffness!

My Raidlight BackPack

I was very excited over the particilar piece of equipment as this will be my most essential piece of equipment as I will carry everything I need for the 7 days inside and outside of it. I looked at various brands and in the end it was a close call between the Raidlight bag and Salomon. I did a fair bit of research on this and in the end I found more people have used the Raidlight and I think it is the most popular bag in the the MDS. The problem I faced was to determine which size would be suitable for my needs and after some research I opted for the 24 liter bag which has a 20L bag and 4L front bag. I patiently waited for the bag to be delivered and when it arrived I got a nice little surprise, the bag is to small for all my equipment and I was over optimistic. It was back to the internet and I placed my second backpack order for a 30L Raidlight backpack - see below...

I am now just waiting for this backpack to arrive from France and I`ll start working on packing configurations to determine the best packing options. I am sure this bag will have ample space for my needs I as I did not want to get to Morocco and have a bag that is too small and I start feeling uncomfortable with the bag ect. Will post more info on the backpack as soon as it arrives here in sunny Dubai!

Adam and Charlie!

One of my new favorite movies at the moment is the running documentary called - Running the Sahara - The documentary follows three runners that run across the Sahara in 111 days and what they experience on a day to day basis. The three runners are Kevin, Ray and Charlie Engle. Charlie inspired me the most out the three runners as I can identify with him as he is very strong minded and a natural leader. Charlie has overcome personal challenges such as a drug addiction and became a motivational speaker and adventurer runner. I would love to do something similar and will be planning to run a couple of Ultra`s over the next few years........

So when my legs start telling me it is time to get up and hit the road or when I am sleeping and dreaming of running my alter ego Charlie takes over! I will run the MDS with my alter ego Charlie and he will take over from me when the going gets tough and help me through the hard stages!

Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into a ineffeable joy.

So much to do, so little time!

With the departure date for Morocco creeping up fast I am starting to feel the heat so to speak. I have to apply for three visas, UK, France and Morocco. I am planning to spend a week or so in the UK with Fiona and Ikuko after the race in the UK just to chill and recover from the race. I am wondering in what sort of state I`ll be come the 12th April!!

On the 19th February 2010 I`ll be running the RAK half marathon and I will run this with a full back pack. We will also sleep over the night before, so I`ll sleep on the floor in my new sleeping bag and run the next day with full kit to get my first taste of an uncomfortable night on the floor followed by a running session.

I have also received most of my equipment, just waiting for my stove and new running backpack (2nd new one). I will feature my quipment next! Please forward my firstgiving link on to your friends and family and encourage them to make a donation!

Thank you for the support and I am looking forward to giving you regular updates as we move towards the 2nd April 2010.