Marathon des Sables, Admin days
April1st [yeah, no joke!] - pick up day -
April 1st – bus trip for 3 or so hours, just to make sure we were well away from the rest of the world.
We then were transferred to Royal Moroccan Army trucks – open top massive beasts. Once we’d arrived at Biv 1 we found our tents and met our room mates for the next 9 days
Justin (AUS) Sydney based, working for the Royal Bank of Scotland. Gained the nickname of ‘squishy’ after his air mattress disturbed others during the nights. Justin was a very consistent runner – we ran together during the Long Day
Helen (AUS) from the Hunter Valley – a personal Trainer, a run/walker with a phobia of noisy air mattress
Ed (AUS) From Sydney, was a walker – those guys have it pretty tough, they’re out there on the course for many more hours than the runners – Ed was just about done by end of Day 2 – we talked him into starting one more day – unfortunately, Ed withdrew on Day 3. Good on him for pushing on.
Dan (USA) aka ‘string bean’ – a good runner from San Francisco. Dan had the Moroccans scratching their heads as he was quite highly placed – he finished 22nd overall
Peter (USA) owning a burger chain in the US Peter was an interesting character, not to mention having a hair style which provoked a chuckle every now and then – was quite skilled at the barter and trade of unwanted food people discarded to lighten their packs.
Jason (USA) Another fast runner, from Chicago, a dry sense of humour and very focused. Listening to the conversations during the night or his translations of our Asian neighbours’ conversation was always informative and entertaining.
Kate (USA) At Harvard studying law and business, seemed to fare quite well in the standings. A little vague most of the time and earned the nick name of ‘last minute Kate’ due to the lateness of gear preparation before the event [having to get Velcro sewn to her shoes in Ouarzazate on the day before we left plus last minute food preparation
I meet Glenn(AUS), a pom now living on the Northern Beach’s in Sydney, who was a good friend of Justin’s, He was strangely in a tent full of folks from Hong Kong – including the 3rd place winner in the Gobi Desert Marathon – turns out Glenn entered the race via HK and so was put in their tent!
Tony (NZL), a physio, Malcolm also from NZ, a chiro were a few tents down – their knowledge and camaraderie were to help me out in the sand.
Spencer (USA), a Marine Corps Lt Colonel, helped get me home when I was in pain on the 2nd day.
So many new friends brought together by an amazing event.
Glenn and the crew from South Korea [see race day 4], Hong Kong and China [this guy came 3rd in the Gobi March
April 2nd - Check in day
We were called up in groups, by race number. Here we thought we would get put through the wringer with regard to our compulsory equipment and food.
Turned out – if you don’t look like finishing in the top 10 – they will just take your word for it, give you your race numbers, parachute flare, your salt tablets, your water ration and medical cards and look at your ECG. Then…you’re good to go!
Last year during the flare usage demonstration they had a little mishap, this year I don’t think the official was quite ready for the rocket that launched the parachute flare as it shot skyward. The parachute initially failed to deploy and the flare was poised to land on one of the tents (very nearly tent 117!) At the last moment, the chute opened and the wind pushed the flare just clear of the tent line.
Dinner that night was the last luxury for the week. Doug, a fire fighter from Canada and I shared stories over dinner, we may’ve even popped back into the food line to have another beer.
After that, it started to sink in – we were to start an epic event the next morning, we were itching to get moving!