With thoughts of only 17.5kms of arid desert separating me from the finish and the sudden realisation that in a couple of hours time we would leave what had become the norm of eating, sleeping and running made it an incredibly exciting point in the race. The nerves and a restless night had taken their toll and made it very difficult to stomach my final meal, not a mild curried beef but a chicken tikka after trading the previous night. As I strolled to the start line I realised I was feeling the effects of living off minimal calories for the week as I my body felt weak.
No more mild curried beefs left in my pack and the thought of tasty food in a few hours time was something to be very happy about!
We stood on the start line in the group that had formed tent 76 for our last experience of “Highway to Hell” in the desert. The final countdown started “TROIS, DEUX.... UN” and we were off. We were off at a seriously quick pace which I was sure and hoped that people wouldn’t continue it after the 1st mile. It stayed fast for the entire way. It was almost a sprint through the checkpoints, grabbing water, getting the water card punched for the final time, grabbing a quick bite and then continuing on. It was turning out to be one of the toughest days with so many miles already in the legs it was all adrenaline that was pushing and driving me to the finish.
The run was tough but certainly going well and the reintroduction into society saw us travelling from a mixture of sand dunes and rocky, scrubby flats to small and secluded villages. Running past kids that seem to come from no where, wells that just dropped deep into the ground and mud built buildings. The final couple of miles brought us from rural morocco to the outskirts of the town that we were to finish in. Running past kids, chickens, goats and ancient cars and lorries chugging out fumes. The rich mix of smells awakening the senses.
It was quite a sight not only entering civilisation but passing through some incredibly deprived areas with a number of kids begging. We rounded the corner and joined the 1stand only section of tarmac of the race. Running with Si and Karin, two of my tent mates, we ran along the streets passing coffee bars, pizza places and shops selling cold cans of cola. My focus at this point certainly seems to be on one thing only. All that remained was the sprint to the finish; regardless of the miles already covered or how tired our legs felt it had to be done as the 3 of us cranked up the pace to towards the finish line. Besides there were still people to overtake. The last couple of hundred metres were of running through a festival atmosphere passing musicians, locals and family who had come out to welcome in the finishers as we joined other competitors in the finish area.