Marathon des Sables 2009

Over the last few years I've become aware of what was billed as 'The toughest foot race on Earth'. This is the Marathon des Sables which involves running 150+ miles, in the Sahara over 6 days, reaching temperatures of over 50 degrees during the daytime. You are expected to carry all of your kit and food and are limited to 9 litres of water a day.

On Monday registration for the 235 places reserved to British runners opened at 10am. By 10.10am all of the places were taken, including the 100 reserve places. Unfortunately things didn't go too smoothly for me - at dead on 10am I added the item to my basket, registered my details and payment method, then pressed confirm. Throughout the whole process the server response times were extremely slow, presumably because the website was being overwhelmed. At the point of paying the screen froze at the 'Contacting Bank' stage. I gave it a couple of minutes but nothing else happened. I contacted the helpline, but there was no response so eventually called the bank who confirmed that £500 (and that is just the deposit!) had recently been authorised. I thought that as long as they have taken my money the entry must have been accepted. About half an hour later I received an automatic email stating that I had not completed my order! I then sent a couple of frantic emails to the organisers asking what was happening, only to get an email stating that they hoped to send me another email shortly '...that will explain everything', which sounded a bit ominous.

Well this afternoon, I got the confirmation email so I am now officially entered for the 2009 Marathon des Sables - I really am very lucky (or unlucky!) to have managed to get a confirmed place. Although I've been thinking about this event for a while I didn't want to announce my intentions to the blog until I got this confirmation.

Rather than re-iterating everything, if anyone is interested to know what I am letting myself in for the UK site is Click on Contents and Links which will bring you to the personal accounts of some of the people who completed the 2006 event.

There are lots of other sites if you Google this event, but I attach a few other links for different perspectives:

I really can not stress how hard this event is going to be - it will make the KIMM look like childs play in comparison. Prior to going I have to provide a blood test, have an ECG taken, and must carry an anti-venom pump! One part of me feels really happy that I got accepted into the event; when I received the email earlier I shouted 'Get in!' at work, much to the bemusement of my colleagues. The other part of me feels scared, really scared in fact, nervous and a great deal of trepidation.

So why enter I hear you ask? Well I don't know to be honest. I've always wanted to do something different and to see just how hard I can push myself. Perhaps the answers will become clearer as I get nearer to the event. I suppose that if I manage to complete the event then it will be easily the biggest achievement in my lifetime.

Clearly my training will change substantially between now and March 2009. Having never done a marathon before, or even half marathon I need to build up my distance work. I've got a few 10k's between now and the summer and will try to start doing some half marathons later this year, then do a few marathons in 2008. I'm renowned for not being able to run in the heat (by this I mean 20 degrees plus, god knows what 50 degrees is going to do to me!), so will need to address this. I will probably wind down orienteering around Sep 2007, mainly to reduce my chances of serious injury.

My biggest fears at the moment are 1) Dehydration, 2) The heat and 3) Feet/Blisters (there are some scary photos/stories on the web).

Clearly my goals and focus will change over the coming months, but before I devise a training schedule, kit lists etc I'm just going to carry on my 10k training as normal for the next month and let everything settle down before I start to make any decisions.

Better start going to the Sauna!


  1. Who said.."I'm renowned for not being able to run in the heat" .... mm tricky one




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