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Sunday, 17 April 2011

Marathon Des Sables Diary, Stage 5 and 6

Stage 5 (42km)
The penultimate day was 42km which feels quite daunting after the state of most peoples bodies and feet – The race seems to break a man day by day, little by little, until you just cant fight anymore. However, although i could barely walk, because of the blisters and my being too stubborn to take painkillers, my diarrhea had gone and I had eaten well the day before, so i was fresh with energy for once, and i could run, so i did a brisk pace for the whole day, apart from the depressingly high series of craggy hills on the first leg (just to tire you out for the rest) I was surprised at my ability to be honest, but running i see now, almost too late, is the only way to do this race - walking is much harder if you're used to running, and the reason a lot of runners get blisters (walking you rub differentparts of the foot)

no water? superhot? terrain from hell? 36km still to go? no problem!

Stage 6 (17.5km)
The final day was of course the strangest. The whole trip, even at night, my heart was beating rather fast (i’m guessing it’s the adrenelin/fear) and here we were with a tiny 17.5km to the finish line of the whole race. The mood is positive as I forced down half a repulsive breakfast, then when we start up I get in behind a little Japanese nutcase who was almost sprinting, pace with him until i'm worn out, then join a pleasant Scotsman for a more sedentary jog into the one and only checkpoint. The final 7km after that, I think everyone found the energy or at least the adrenelin to run through. Just thinking of eating proper food, or washing, or having a bath, or a toilet or a coca cola was driving me straight to the line as fast as my exhausted legs would carry me. (I'll put in some photos here later, some freinds are sending them.)

The Finish Line! -  first world guys get to eat first, while Mexicans as usual starve

So here i am, in a hotel in a shabby town in a forgotten corner of the Sahara desert. Its a strange feeling afterwards, but im pretty releived its over. My feet look a mess but apart from that i feel quite ok apart from the deep tiredness.

And what did i learn from this race? Well first the only way to prepare for the Marathon De Sables is to do it. I brought all the wrong food, did a lot of the wrong training, and expected a totally different race (and result) But it does bring some of the fittest extreme sportsmen in the world (plus me) together, and speaking to these nutcases is in itself inspiring. Trying to compare myself to some of the achievements was pretty impossible...i had many a conversation along the lines of ‘ahh yeah i trained a little bit, but not much. Did the such and such Ultra the other day, you know the 150km one in the Arctic where you have to drag your sled behind you. Yeah i came 4th though i was so pissed’ type of thing, which kind of makes my 20km runs twice a week look a bit silly really.

I also learned that nutrition is THE most important thing in Ultramarathon, except maybe technique (which ive covered in other posts on ) Im 100% sure i could have jumped a leap of places if id brought calorie rich and light pot noodles, supernoodles, isotonic drink tablets, glucose, more of the liquid food (Peronin, i definitely recommend it) and a host of other tasty but calorific foods that don’t make me retch when i try to eat them. Please avoid at ALL costs ‘expedition food’ – everyone i know took it was on the verge of being sick (in fact some were unfortunately) Here is a comparison of a few food reviews.

ok so thats it for one year....more mundane and random stories after ive slept for a week.....

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