Tag Archives: Marathon des Sables

Time to Focus

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I started my running journey in 2011. Whilst reading the Runner’s World Magazine my eye caught a picture of a guy dressed funny carrying a backpack and it looked like he was running. The picture showed off all of his gear and a list of mandatory equipment that he has to carry with him including an anti venom kit.

This picture started a dream...

This picture started a dream…

His running shoes were covered, looked like running boots! I was completely baffled with the intricacies. I think it was the anti-venom kit that scared me, what was he doing? Well, he was running the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km self-sufficient multi-stage race in the Moroccan Sahara Desert. I knew then already that it was something I wanted to do.

Every day I run, I think about running in the desert. It is funny…I’ve never even been to a desert, closest I came to 43 degrees celcius was in the Karoo. I am not sure why I have this burning desire to run in the desert, for know let’s just say it is “the challenge” 🙂

I was dreaming big in 2014, hoping to get a place for the 30th Marathon Des Sables (MDS) but all available entries were snapped in less than 4 minutes or some ridiculously short time. I was disappointed and depressed that entire week!

Trans Arabia (Jordan 2016)

I then heard about another desert race whilst sulking about my MDS disappointment to fellow ultrarunner who told me about Trans Arabia – a 300km non-stop race crossing Jordan from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea via the Wadi Rum Desert.

I immediately did some research and let’s just say the rest is history. I’ve fallen head over “hills” in love with this race and entered the next day! I will do the Marathon Des Sables in 20xx 🙂

What drew me to this race was the concept of running from “sea-to-sea” crossing a desert!

Dead Sea

Start at Dead Sea

Wadi Rum

via Wadi Rum Desert

Red Sea

Finish at Red Sea

The Wadi Rum Desert is one of the most impressive desert landscapes in the world situated in south Jordan.  It is famous for its high mountains, charming rock formations and colour-changing sand. It’s also known as The Valley of the Moon.

It’s absolutely beautiful and I’ve become obsessed with running…ok…. shuffling it!

Wadi Rum, South of Jordan

Wadi Rum, South of Jordan

Wadi Rum Desert Camp

Wadi Rum Desert Camp

I have started planning the road to Trans Arabia – 15 months to train to run 300km carrying all the things I would need to survive 6 days in the desert. I am so excited to be training for this race and learn more about the country and all the historical and biblical places I’ll be running through I thought it fitting to create a separate blog dedicated to my training and preparation for my epic “Journey through Jordan”.

My Theme for 2015 is “Focus”

My goals for 2015 is simple…

  1. A sub 11hr Comrades (bronze medal) – I would like to get much faster at the shorter distances as well but first need to get to the bottom of my foot issue.
  2. However, all I think of everyday is Trans Arabia! This race is going to consume me – I am more worried and interested in preparing for this race, getting onto trails and experimenting with gear and everything that goes with training for a non-stop or multi-stage desert ultra marathon in a foreign country. So 2015 is all about exploring and  experimenting…no point doing anything or taking anything with me that is not gonna work for me in the desert.

I guess the biggest challenge for me this year is not to get too overwhelmed with training for Trans Arabia but to plan appropriately and to FOCUS on the immediate next steps only…. a journey of a thousand (in my case a million) miles starts with a single step 🙂

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My Journey to Marathon des Sables

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It is two weeks into the new year and already I am feeling like I am on a rollercoaster ride! After two years of thinking and dreaming about I believe I am ready to take on the Marathon des Sables. Yes, like only…. THE. ONE. AND. ONLY…”world’s toughest footrace”. Yes, the same race that double olympic gold medalist James Cracknell did and screened by the Discovery Channel.

I’ve pre-registered for Marathon des Sable 2015 so now it is fingers crossed!

WARNING: The video footage below contains some graphic content designed to inspire passionate runners to do crazy stuff…like signing up for a 250km, 6 day stage race in one of the hottest deserts on earth!

I am by no means fast.Those who have been following my blog over the last 2 years would know that I am just an ordinary back of the pack runner. I ran my marathon PB a year ago in 4hrs and 55 mins. Yes, that’s how slow I was! Then again it is all relative, isn’t it? I’ve been training quite a bit over the last few months and hoping to cut mins off that marathon time when I run my Two Oceans qualifier this March.

My theme for 2014 is…JOURNEY.

For me this means DREAMING BIG; understanding your own capability; appreciate and celebrate what you have accomplished thus far; understand that Rome was not build in a day, so patience…patience….patience; to be brave and take risks;  to not be scared of failing; to learn from mistakes.

One of my favourite quotes to guide me on this journey comes from basketball player Michael Jordan “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”. There is just something about this quote that says it all! No doubt the journey is not going to be a walk in the park but I know in the end it will be worth-it…E-P-I-C to say the least!

Goals for 2014

My running goals for 2014 is simple – TO PREPARE AS BEST AS I CAN. That means I will train hard but smart (do the work); start eating clean and get through 2014 injury free (listen to my body and attend to any niggles) so that I can finish MdS 2015 with as little damage to myself as possible

Yes, I have only pre-registered but the next 15 months will see me prepare and train for this race as if I have a confirmed place already. I will experiment with EVERYTHING! Taking care of my feet and blisters myself, shoes, food, kit. No point taking anything to the desert that will not be used.

Building a good running base in 2013

I’ve been training hard the last few months; following my training programme to the T and now have built a good running base. My minimum mileage over the last few months were:

  • September – 99km
  • October – 140km
  • November – 160km
  • December – 130km

I’ve done quite a bit of 10K races during Sept-Nov and I’ve managed to cut 6mins off my 10K time to 62mins, so no doubt that I will break sub-60mins soon!

December training was a bit more relaxed with the holidays however I managed to do quite a few nice runs in the Karoo and Cape Town. Running at sea level does have it’s advantages, so nice to run easy and feel “fast”. I have found a little gem in the Karoo, the last year I’ve really started to appreciate and enjoy the peace and beauty of the Karoo. This probably goes hand in hand with my desire to run in the desert but I think it is a great place to use as training ground for the MdS. In the summer temperatures get in high 30s, even 40s. This summer we saw 43 degrees. Another upside to training in the Karoo is that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE TO DO! You almost feel like a full time athlete…RUN.EAT.REST.RUN!

I did my 1st hike up Table Mountain with my family, turned out to be so much fun. I don’t think I will ever take the cable up again, so many new trails to explore!

My journey to the sands

This year holds a lot of “1st” for me whilst training for MdS2015. My first Two Oceans Ultra Marathon; collecting my Comrades medal :-); running a close to 4:10 marathon towards the end of 2014; experimenting with ultra trail and multistage races. The 2nd half of 2014 my focus will change towards more trail and off road running. I have to learn to run with a 10kg bag on my back and be able to do that for days on end. The MdS is only 6 days long, equivalent of 5 marathons and 1 ultra marathon (something like an off-road Comrades Marathon in distance). My million miles…

There is a lot of information on the internet and social media sites on the MdS. I’m currently following a few of the 2014 competitors on twitter. I am in awe how much training and preparation everyone is putting into this challenge, they definitely not taking this lightly.  I can’t wait for April to come so that I can follow them all live! I am just grateful that everyone is sharing there experiences so openly, I have learnt so much already…not just about training for the MdS but how to improve my running in general.

Excited to embark on my journey to the sands!