Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Marathon des Sables: 27 March to 7 April 2008

The Toughest Footrace on Earth

Welcome to the world of lunatics and masochists - don't take offence, I have great admiration for all those who even think about doing this event.

Why this IS the toughest footrace on Earth

It covers 243km/151 miles (in sections similar to 25, 34, 38, 82, 42, 22 km) run over 6 days (7 for some) - equivalent to 5 1/2 regular marathons. That's a speed of between 3 and 14 km an hour for competitors aged between 16 and 78). In addition to that, competitors have to carry everything they will need for the duration (apart from a tent) on their backs in a rucksack (food, clothes, medical kit, sleeping bag etc). Water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint.

You will have to prepare all your own food throughout the race and I warn you that there is not a chain of Tesco stores or corner grocery shops dotted around the Sahara. You will experience mid-day temperatures of up to 120°F, of running or walking on uneven rocky, stony ground as well as 15 - 20% of the distance being in sand dunes.

The heat, distance and rubbing will trash your feet and may cause severe trauma if incorrect shoes and equipment are used. Mental stamina probably constitutes at least 50% of whether you will complete the distance or not. Physical fitness is important but don't underestimate the mental stress that you will need to endure. Even if you have run dozens of 26 mile marathons, this does not mean that you will automatically find the MdS easy - either way you will be planning to do lots of training prior to the MdS.

On the 4th day, you will set off across the barren wilderness to complete a 45 - 50 mile stage. Few people complete this before dark that evening and some will not come in till after dark the next night. This is followed by the 42km Marathon stage!! Its tough, so don't say that nobody warned you in the strongest terms.

To find out more please visit the British site; Marathon des Sables



RedShoes said...

Having just walked an average of 25 - 28km a day for 36 consecutive days across the second most mountainous country in Europe, even I will not enter for a race such as this!
But I bet that many of the contestants in this race will indeed have walked the Camino pilgrimage in Spain --- during my pilgrimage I met several men (almost all of them well into their sixties -- so it must be a testoserone-driven macho-male sextuagarian thing, then? lol!)who covered between 50 and 70km every day and completed over 200km in six weeks! -- carryng a full backpack -- including food and tent -- two of them even walked in open sandals -- and they were often the first to reach the refugio's at night and have a meal ready for the other footsore pilgrims as they limped in! It is all in The Power of the Mind!

RedShoes said...

That should have been "2000km! in six weeks!"