11 April 2010

Day 7 / loose ends

Back in Ouarzazate now. Yesterday's half-marathon was tough, given the previous day's exertions and the state of my feet, but I made it through. By the end, my motivation had solely become to make it out of the desert and back to civilisation. The run was broadly flat apart from a couple of sandy sections at the start and finish. The latter were the dunes near Merzouga, which brought back memories of my visit there with Gus, 15 years ago. It was summertime and very hot indeed. Due to our (my) slight mis-budgeting, we ran out of cash and thus water in our final few hours there and spent the time immobile, nursing our final precious litre, waiting for the bus out and watching our pee gradually change colour in a slightly alarming way.

I also want to mention day 3. That blog update seems to have failed to appear here, which is both good and bad. Day 3 was my lowest ebb. It was a flat course but frighteningly hot at times (a competitor clocked about 50C on his watch), a bit humid and the scenery was stiflingly dull. All very oppressive and, after a decent run to checkpoint 1 (and an unscheduled Radcliffe break), I found it really hard going, walking most of the rest of the way. A couple of competitors - Sophie and Cranston (I think) - were kind enough to chat to me on the way and really helped me through. I was in a bit of a state when we got in to the bivi and I remember my email from day 3 being very flat indeed. Mabe it's good that it never appeared, in case its tone worried people back home, but I certainly want my feelings recorded - if for no other reason than otherwise it looks as though I had a great time every day of the race and this was certainly not the case!

I'll post a proper write-up with some photos on my return. For now, some final thoughts. My main memories will be both good and bad.

The MdS is brutal and attritional. The heat and dryness. Grime, sand and sweat. Frequent nosebleeds. A general feeling of being ill at ease. Much of day 3 and and the final stage of day 4 were horribly tough. On the other hand, there was so much support from other competitors - I have mentioned those on day 3 above, and another thank you has to go to Aussie Paul for his conversation and gel at the end of the long stage - they picked me up just at the right time. Tent 93 were a diverse bunch of guys, all very different but all great people. In order of appearance, a huge thank you to young Andy, Kris, Pete, Jeffrey, Ben, Rob and Frank. I made it to the end, which is great, with a couple of good(ish) runs on days 4 and 6.

What now? I've completed what I assumed would be the toughest thing I've ever attempted to do and it's been over 2 years in the planning. The reality of the experience was a bit different to my expectations and in some ways I found it easier than expected. Is answer to find an even harder challenge? Possibly. I'm wondering, though, more about whether I'm asking the right question.


  1. Wow. Well done mate.

  2. Congrats Andy. Very impressive.

  3. 4 Deserts i have heard, www.4deserts.com

  4. Andy you write "Possibly. I'm wondering, though, more about whether I'm asking the right question."
    Rightly so. You cannot find what you are not looking for and similarly you cannot find what you are looking for if you are looking in the wrong places. Happy, lucky and fruitful search mate.

  5. ...and congratulations for your achievements past and present! Awesome

  6. Firstly, it goes without saying that you are a legend, a stupid legend, but a legend none the less, well done mate

    Secondly, I've got an easy answer to your question - have kids. This will a) represent a longer term challenge b) be more exhausting c) take up all your time and energy so there will be no desire for ever more ridiculous challenges

  7. ...I forgot to mention that I would be first in the (long) queue to have your babies

  8. As a slight counter to Osh's comment (not the second one - goes without saying that I too would be in the queue), I don't think the kids thing works. I found myself in the (I suspect very short) list of those who felt a sense of envy (for want of a better word) as I scrolled through the darbaroud website for updates on your progress. The nippers are enormously rewarding, exhausting, long term challenge etc etc, but they never stop you entirely from wanting to be the person who is out there actually doing it, whatever it is.

    That said, I have no desire ever to run the MdS, and am in awe of your efforts. So on a practical note my recommendation is that you become a full time urban wildlife photographer, having proved your aptitude through this blog. You could also pursue a sideline in non-competitive eating.

    Comrades in 2011 or 2012?