You know, there’s just something magical about being in the Sahara Desert. Maybe it’s the heat, the deep blue sky or the pure sense of adventure but there’s just something that makes the Marathon des Sables just that bit more special every time I take part in ‘The World’s Toughest Footrace’.
Was 2018 the Toughest year? Well, no it wasn’t if you want the honest truth the desert was cooler this year – sure it was tough, it always is but funnily it was one of the best in my opinion as it was so relaxed and that’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much. You see we experienced all of the MDS highlights, The Jebel - Twice. The Ridge-walk, the 30km of endless sand-dunes that strip the skin from your feet plus we were blasted not only by the Sun (for a day) but also the Wind (at night). I mean, what more could anyone want on what for most might be one of the toughest weeks of their lives?
The only people that will know that for real are those that entered searching for the week of a lifetime.
And when at last the work is done, don't sit down, it's time to dig another one…
For some it will tick a bucket-list tick-box and for others that didn’t make the finish line on the final day it will be unfinished business. Perhaps they’ll bury their nightmares and wish they’d never even entered. The dream of surviving all the desert has to throw at you is one thing, surviving it is another. In a week’s time when the blisters have disappeared, and the return of normal life has started to corrode all of the goodwill that 11 days living with seven people in an open sided Berber tent has created, it’ll soon be time for folk to seek out a new adventure to fill the gaping hole that the MdS leaves in its wake.
For long you live and high you fly, but only if you ride the tide…
Now, if you’ve ever wanted to fly, really fly, feel free, liberated, challenged I believe there’s no better place to go to find out where your limits of human endurance really are.
That’s the draw of one small part of the Western Sahara, somewhere you can probably feel the most alone anywhere on the planet. I love the night stage where if you are feeling particularly intrepid, you can go solo and move along on your own with just your thoughts for company and really did deep down into what makes you…er you.
Call it ‘Transcendence’, ‘Meditation’ or just ‘Pure Zombieness’ in the dark hours, in the sand, feeling particularly in need of the warm arms of your loved ones and the creature comforts of our busy lives, there’s nothing quite like being stripped down literally to the bone.
Do Fifteen MdS’ and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
And balanced on the biggest wave, you race toward an early grave…
I love gazing up into the jet-black night sky during the race. The planets, the stars and the Milky Way are 4K crystal clear and totally breath taking. They’re the same ones we have at home but back where I live in Cardiff they’re still they’re masked out by our busy modern-day electronic world. Plus, whenever is there any time to look up to the heavens and realise that we are in fact on the ‘Biggest Wave’ God could ever have created and that the only place to escape life’s constant distraction is to go and run 250km in the Sahara Desert.
1,016 Marathons - 246 Ultras - 15 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records