Well I have finally got round to writing up after finishing the Marathon des Sables, otherwise known as "The Worlds Toughest Footrace", back at the start of April. I can safely say it was the hottest place I have ever been reaching 54C on some days and then running with a backpack, it was intense.
Since returning many people have asked how was it, would I do it again and some even wanting to know some or the gory details like how many toes nails I have left. Amazingly all 10, although 1 is still black. However I am always kind of lost for words, how do you describe the hardest yet most enjoyable thing you have ever done. Amazing just doesn't quite cut it but it terms of experiences it was an incredible and some would even say life changing experience. The whole week is very simple and all comes down to you in the desert and a distance we are trying to cover. For many of the competitors this is about putting 1 foot in front of the other till you finish, I am a bit more competitive so aiming for a top 200 result when I had never done a marathon 2 years prior to the event seemed like a good idea. The mornings and evenings are spent recovering and repairing for the following day. Very quickly I found that you fall into a routine and it becomes "normal".
For many people this race is anything but "normal" there were about 850 competitors wanting to pay to run through part of the largest hottest desert on earth covering about 250 km in temperatures reaching 54C. The race therefore was certainly not for the faint hearted and by the last day there were some incredible feats of endurance by the people finishing at the back who required sticks and crutches just to be able to cross the finish line.
I finished 125th overall, 15th Brit and 2nd U25 (the last one is an unofficial group but they have various categories for the older age groups...), which I am really amazed by and pleased with. Yet as I write this, even with the blisters on my feet still healing and thinking back to the 2 weeks immediately after the event where all I wanted to do was eat and sleep, I wonder could I have done better, could it of been top 100, top 50 or better if I had trained that bit harder, more efficiently etc. In the end though for me it wasn't the result that made this experience it was the sights you see and the people you meet along the way, in particular my tent mates. I am sure they will agree we saw each others highs, lows and everything else that goes with being in such an intimate environment. So in answer to the question of would I do it again.... Yes, but there are plenty of other challenges out there in the meantime. More to follow so keep watching.