Marathon Des Sables

The Marathon Des Sables is called the Toughest Footrace on earth. It is 156 miles across the sands and takes place annually in early April. There are around 1100 competitors from all over the world. And in 2014, I was lucky enough to be one of them.

Six marathons in six days across the desert. We carried all our own food and kit and the temperatures reached the high 40s. Everyone argued about which was the hardest day:  this year the shock of the first caused many to pull out – dunes from the start, the middle day was a double, 52 miles which took me 21 hours and 12 minutes, but for me it wasn’t a stage that was the hardest thing, it was walking towards the start line on the last marathon day. My feet were blistered and bloody and I didn’t know how I could possibly cope with the pain that lay ahead. But I did and I made it and the joy of that day will live with me forever.

The physical preparation is one thing, but for an adventure like this one, it is the head that helps you complete it. I had two mantras that I kept with me all the way through: the first was to enjoy the moment, look around at the amazing landscape, and feel the glory of what we were all trying to accomplish. The second was that pain is inevitable, it hurt, sometimes it hurt a lot, but suffering is optional.

I started my training along the cold, wet canals of Manchester and in the hills of the Peak District, and then in January moved to Marrakech to  translate that to the harsh sun and rigours of the desert. I went down to the dunes just two weeks before the race and that was a life saver!

It will take a book to describe the entirety of the race – but please check out my blog posts to get a taste for it and you can always email me if you have any questions.

Based on my experiences and with the help of some world class ultra coaches, I am planning to run some MdS specific training camps in Morocco – check out for details.