Marathon des Sables 2021 - Charity Day and Hotel

For the final day we had the charity 'solidarity' stage.  We all had to wear yellow cotton t-shirts.  Despite looking like a swarm of bees, it was welcome relief as by now my shirt was like cardboard and extremely stinky.  In fact my lycra shorts had lost all elasticity and I binned them in favour of my long lycra tights.  Today was just 8km, not timed and as long as you finished the stage your classification overall was not affected.

I decided to just bimble along, talking to the odd competitor along the way, including a good half hour chat with my fellow Italian competitor who finished one place ahead of me.

Thankfully no photos of me looking like a bumble bee from this day...

However, plenty of stock photos exist that record the day...

After finishing there was talk about groups getting private taxis to Ouarzazate but I didn't see the point and I later found it they were very expensive in any case.  Whilst a six hour coach ride to the hotel, we stopped for lunch which comprised exactly the same lunch as the day we arrived - stale bread, laughing cow cheese, butter, but this time two tins of tuna.  I demolished the vast majority of it, but was something I later regretted.

On arrival at the Berbere Palace in Ouarzazate we were meant to be assigned rooms in pairs and I think the idea was that you were meant to pair up in advance.  I can never be bothered by that sort of thing so I just went to the reception desk / Run Ultra liaison who I think were slightly surprised.  As it turned out I think due to the volume of drop outs, I got a room to myself so really lucked out there.  I was reunited with my meagre suitcase and did a very British thing - I brought some jam tarts with me and had a couple of them!  Then followed a shower, which despite the amount of scrubbing that then ensued still resulted in a heavily soiled towel.

During the race we said how we would demolish the buffet at the hotel that first evening.  The reality was somewhat different.  At about 5pm I started to feel queasy to the point by about 7pm I had to lie down and just wasn't hungry at all.  I began to start feeling really ill and skipped dinner altogether.  By about 2am I was sick and 5 minutes later it all came out the other end as well.  I did have a small breakfast - two yoghurts and a tiny bit of cereal, but with about 2 litres of orange juice.  No lunch, but during the day I steadily improved to the point that by dinner time, I had some potatoes and a bit of dessert.  Other than that all I can really remember is sleeping.

It is tempting to say I was afflicted by the same sickness bug as others and maybe I was, but I'm convinced it was associated with the lunch on the coach.  The food had been placed in the coach storage area for goodness knows how long, was not chilled and had been festering in the warmth for several hours.  I gather a few others had also been affected as well.

On the way home it really hit me how many people failed to finish.  The plane on the way out was full, on the way home I had a row of 6 seats to myself.  Ok, the plane was still pretty full, but it goes to show just how many people not only dropped out, but decided to make their own way home as well and not stay for the group flight.  The 2021 MdS was finally over.


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