There was a time when you only found yourself running through the desert, burning under the relentless sun, desperately battling to stay alive if the rest of your platoon had been wiped out and Rommel was hot on your heels. Now, as one of the things you must do before you die, or maybe more accurately, things you might do and die at the same time, the Marathon des Sables is a big calendar event. Starting on 6th April this year’s Marathon Des Sables will once again host around 1,300 competitors fully committed to extracting every last drop of moisture from their bodies.
This is a 6 day, 159 mile event that runs through the desert in southern Morocco and first started life in 1986 when a French concert promoter decided he needed to get away from it all and walked 200 miles through the desert whilst dreaming up this classic adventure. And without wishing to big itself up too much it describes itself as ‘an extraordinary race for extraordinary people in an extraordinary place’, and although the world of adventure sports does seem a little too hell bent on labelling everything it does as the next worst thing to dying, this is probably the best chance you’ve got of ending your life through an organised sporting activity. Two runners have died in the last 5 years.
It’s held over 6 days with all the racers camping out each evening in tents that hold 7 other runners, and who will become your ‘family’ for the week and apparently remain lifelong friends. There’s only 1 rest day throughout the whole of the week and you’ll need it because the fourth day is an absolute shocker: at 55 miles it’s the equivalent of running over 2 regular marathons in one day…in 120 degree heat.
Still want to do it?
Entry to the Marathon Des Sables is very fierce and if you’re thinking about doing it next year you’ll have to be quick off the blocks but don’t worry too much about the pace of the race, according to stats 90% of the competitors adopt a run/walk strategy. Yeah, right. If you needed any further bolstering then just think of this: Ben Fogle has done it and he’s a total Knob.