Marathon des Sables.
Report – Matt Sims and David Jones.
At the time of writing, Matt has completed 4 stages. Yesterday’s stage was the longest at 76k (47 miles)
He seems to be getting stronger as the race goes on. For the first stage he was 130th in his age category, for the 2nd stage he was 94th, 77th for the 3rd stage and yesterday 58th.
Details of the stages completed to date, together with Matt’s times are as follows :
Stage 1 – 32.2k – 4:54.37 – 6.54k/hr
Stage 2 – 32.5k – 5:51.05 – 5.48k/hr
Stage 3 – 37.1k – 5:37.44 – 6.61k/hr
Stage 4 – 76.3k – 12:43.17 – 6.01k/hr
Total 178.1k – 29:06.43 – 6.11k/hr
Matt’s daily blog.
Day 1 :
Travel over here was hell! 17.5 hours before we got to camp including an 8 hour coach trip. We arrived at night to a tent that had collapsed. We have a tent with 9 men and a 1 female, given that that this is an environment where the toilet facilities are, to say the least, basic, I have a lot of sympathy with the lady.
Yesterday was spent mostly waiting around doing kit checks and medicals. It seem to take forever, nerves increasing. Yesterday we were catered for, so today was the first day of eating from a bag.
I started early this morning for the first stage. I have to say it was a bit emotional given the year of training that preceded it.
The temperature seemed to increase today which was ironic. The nights have been freezing, the biggest surprise. Today’s stage was 32km and fairly straightforward. Not too many hills and a few dunes.
I decided to moderate the enthusiasm and let everyone go at the start and manage my own race. It has paid off and I am feeling ok. Now for some food and rest…tomorrow includes 13k of dunes!
I can only describe today as being like being put in an oven at about 100 degrees whilst running up a mountain and being sand blasted…it was damn hot! I survived it with a smile on my face. Good foot management is paying off. Some soreness but no blisters. The hardest part is carrying the pack. Day 1 it was 8.2kg and in theory I should have eaten 1kg of it by now, but it doesn’t feel lighter.
The scenery today was spectacular and involved running through the highest range of dunes in Morocco. Stunning to admire in between traversing them. My running poles paid off and were worth the additional weight.
Tomorrow looks a bit more ‘standard’ but is 5km longer at 37.1km.
If I stay positive we have completed more than 30% already. The way that this whole event runs is incredible. You are woken at 6am with your bivouac being taken down (whilst in it) and it’s then set up and ready for you when you get back. Well there’s a carpet on the floor!
Now for some lovely freeze dried food for dinner
Today was the longest day so far at 37.5km. and guess what..it was hot! Hotter than yesterday.
From a terrain perspective it was diverse..some rocky flats, dunes and some river beds. You quickly learn to read the sand and basically don’t run where others have, if you can help it. Even on the dunes there’s a thin crust that stays intact if you are the first foot print. It does make things ‘easier’.
I think on average we are using around 5000 calories per day and taking on something ike 2500.
You never feel hungry but you know you could eat more. I’m glad to say my hydration is good. I’m also consuming up to 15 salt tablets per day.
Tomorrow is the long day at 76km and will see us run through part of the night.
in a perverse way its the stage i’m looking forward to the most. it does mean that there wont be an email tomorrow though. We’re trying to work out our food plan as we aren’t planning on stopping to cook. It might be cold curry! Extra water today means a wash tonight!
Day 4/5 :
The morning after the night before. Yesterday I managed 12hrs 43mins. A good day to put in max effort.
There are still people coming in now, 27hrs later. Our early finish meant we got a hot meal and some sleep, which was welcome.
Yesterday was a hot day with much dune work, some mountains and night running. Its a new moon and the sky had no cloud. It was stunning. I spent the whole day eating sports supplement food, yuck.
I have the rest of the day to recover now but honestly I could have run the last marathon today and would have preferred to. Sounds a bit crazy I’m sure.
We get treated to a can of coke later tonight which everyone is looking forward to. It’s been cathartic to be remote with no luxuries or communications but I am looking forward to a shower in 2 days time and perhaps a beer as well.
An early start tomorrow as there is a mountain climb 7km in. After that its medal presentations. Can someone email me the Villa score please ?