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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Marathon Des Sables Diary, Stage 1

So im finally back in the cold again, after blundering through the Marathon Des Sables, leaving hundreds of offended people (mostly French so they dont count) in my wake. I wrote a little diary of my escapades anyway, so what follows is the beginning...

Day 1 - 33km  
Everyone looking clean and fresh on Stage 1
Ok so, a fine start, I have a one hour penalty for not bringing a medical cert. with me, which is fair enough. We received the maps and distances for each day the night before so i was able to see that instead of (as is usual) making day 1 a gentle ‘breaking in’ day, it was now one of the most difficult days, with 13km of large sand dunes. We were woken at a freezing 6am (thanks God for Marmot Sleeping bags) by our bivouacs being taken down over us, and after my first homemade breakfast (nasty Porridge) made our way to the start line. The starting gun went off to the apt tune of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ which was repeated every morning.

So Off we went, lambs to the slaughter, into the desert. The first 11km was pretty straightforward, mostly flat along a barren stony plateau. I was keeping up good speed, following one Spanish girl with a lovely bottom, daydreaming my marathon away, when my stomach starts rumbling and I have diahrrea. What kind of a 'worst possible case' start is that? Fortunately there was a tiny hill up ahead and i sprint behind it to let go of bowels, but this didn’t feel good and it sapped my energy for the day and i fell back a fair bit. At the checkpoint they gave me some pills for it which blocked me up for 24 hours at least. The sand dunes were enormous, and were as tough a  terrain as you could move on. Fortunately it was only 35 degrees today and though it was nigh on impossible to run them, the 13km trudge up and down fairly drained most of the runners. The big concern for the first day is to take it easy, not get injured, not overdo it, and get the hang of manageing the nutrition and water correctly, which will be key for the rest of the race. So bearing in mind my earlier diahrea, I guiltily walked the last 7km (which i should have really ran, lazy bugger) and got home feeling quite ok to be honest.
I could think of better places to get Diarhea

Dinner was more freeze dried food, which tasted of shit, but I had to force down as i don’t have another option. Fortunately I also had some beef jerky which is full of protein and helps my muscle recharge a bit ready for the next day. However, all being equal, I feel good so far (apart from the diarea and the awful food) and have no blisters yet. Since im bored after 5 minutes checking how lovely the stars are there is nothing much to do after dark in a desert full of blokes, I fall asleep at 8pm, not caring about the Austrian snoring loudly next to me.

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