Nov 8, 2009

Marathon Des Sables

"The World's Toughest Footrace."
At least that is how it is billed. And that is how it got my attention.
Seven days in the Sahara Desert of Northern Africa. Running with all of our personal effects on our backs, everything except for water and a tent.
151 Miles. The tallest Sand Dunes in Northern Africa. Up to 55 miles in a single day. Water is rationed to about 9 liters per day. If you run out, tough luck. There are no aid stations in the Sahara. All in all, it sounds like quite an adventure. And certainly one that got me motivated to start training in earnest again following my broken foot in the ULTRAMAN.
I have been promised a spot, but have not yet received written confirmation; I remain hopeful. The race starts around April 3 and goes through April 10th, 2o1o.
For many people the race sounds insane. Just crazy. And maybe it is. But I have found that Ironman is like a gateway only leaves you wanting for more. For a more profound and more challenging experience.
I know that I am not built for speed at my age, but what I lack in fast-twitch muscles, I seem to have in drive and the desire to accomplish the seemingly improbable. Of course this is a tough and crazy event. No doubt about it and I will not try to justify it, because I simply cannot.
I know that I desperately want to (safely) test my limits, and I do believe that by participating in this event with the goal simply to finish, not to race, that it can be a safe event.
The only thing that caused me to reflect a bit was the race insurance which claims to cover, "corpse repatriation to the home country." YIIKES!! That is the first time I have ever seen that in a race waiver! But since I have no intention whatsoever to red line it, to push to the absolute limit, I do not believe that I will be placing myself at extreme risk.
Yes it is the Sahara Desert. Yes, the average temperatures can reach 120 degrees. Yes it is a long way from home and we are required to carry emergency flares and anti-venom and suction kits for both scorpion and snake attacks/bites. But these are very rare occurrences.
The key risks appear to be dehydration, heat exhaustion/heat stroke and severe blistering of the feet. I believe that I am quite experienced and knowledgeable in the area of race nutrition, hydration and electrolyte replacement. But I will readily acknowledge that I have had some real blistering problems and other feet problems. This will be my greatest challenge: keeping my feet in the best possible condition, under these extreme conditions.
More to follow soon.