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Marathon des Sables, Stages & Race Reports

April 4 - Race Day 2 – 38km


Kourci Dial Zaid to Jebel El Mraier


With an aching left knee from the ITB trouble I headed out for stage 2.
It was a big dust storm early on, the wind whipping up sand and throwing your equipment around.
I was looking like a cartoon superhero prior to the start, my spray jacket, my Australian Flag Buff and my special goggles (purchased for just such an occasion) all helping to protect me from the elements whilst waiting for the mornings announcements.

I was travelling ok, I’d started to use the salt tablets after the debacle yesterday.

Tony the kiwi physio caught me at the start of a dune section. We both treated the contours of the sand as though we were back home moving through snow, preserving altitude and always looking ahead for a good line and firm footing. Tony turned out to be the “dune master’ – I swiftly followed in his tracks, fighting off the crippling pain in my knee.

Upon reaching the next CP I was forced to a halt and made to reconsider my pace. All the while thinking, ‘no way, no way am I pulling out – if I have to walk, I walk, but I’m not stopping!’.
It was a long and painful journey to the end of that stage,


Spencer from the US caught up to me and we moved at a fast march, jogging sections when we could.
With Biv 3 in sight I pushed through the pain and started to pull away from Spencer, who was now tiring. He pulled me through a tough section, I wasn’t leaving him behind! Whilst Spencer caught up, I kept moving in small circles, discovering that I had to keep that painful knee moving or it would shut down!

Spencer and I crossed the line toget her and had our cup of Sultan mint tea, loaded with sugar, the treat we looked forward to each day!

I dropped my pack off at #117 and went straight to medical; I didn’t know if they could do anything to help, maybe they could?


Whilst waiting, a sand storm blew up, we’d been getting intermittent storms all day but this was savage! Visibility was down to one metre and the satellite phone tent fell down, the centre tent pole hitting Jay (the US person responsible for the administration of entries for USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Asia) in the head and slamming him into a table. Not what you need out there!

I eventually ended up in the care of Pascal, a surgeon from Paris. We talked and he offered me an injection of ‘anti inflammatory” in to the bursa by my knee.
I was willing to try anything, such was the pain.

For a doctor, he wasn’t too bad with the needle. He put a dressing over the hole – he was concerned with the sand getting in – and sent me on my way.

It was then time to get some food into me and not turn into a human kite on the walk back to my tent

Dinner...everything had a sandy 'crunch' to it.

Jay - In Ozz giving a race briefing before the event and before the knock on the head in the sat phone tent!- Glenn & Helen before the storm


The masked sand runner... that'd be me

Me and the Boys.......

Nasty salt crust, very hard terrain to run on!

Slowing the pace meant more photo time!

Notice the stack of pink rocks in the lower right corner [of the photo above] - one of our route markers

Everyone studying the road book for day 3, aka "dune day", traditionaly one of the hardest days outrside of the "long day" [....weren't they all long days?!]

From the competitor's roadbook:


04/04/2011 - STAGE N°2 :


  • Km 0 : Go South (cap 182°) until Znaïgui erg. Flat terrain with few stones.

  • Km 2,5 : Small obelisk to the left.

  • Km 2,9 : Passage between 2 low hills.

  • Km 3,4 : End of passage between hills. Carry on in same direction. Variable stony terrain. Keep Khnag oued to the left and hill tops to the right.

  • Km 7 : Cross Khnag oued. Mounds of sand and camel grass.

  • Km 7,8 : End of the oued.

  • Km 8,3 : Course 204° to cross Znaïgui erg dunes.

  • Km 10,8 : End of dunes. Flat, slightly stony terrain.

  • Km 11,3 : CP1. Go S/W (course 219°).

  • Km 12,2 : Cross scattered small dunes.

  • Km 15 : Hills to the right. IMPERATIVELY follow markings amongst small dunes to avoid crops.

  • Km 17,4 : Exit oued. Go S/W (course 233°) on the plateau.

  • Km 21,6 : Cross the oued. Mounds of sand and camel grass.

  • Km 22,2 : CP2 left of the line trees. Go W/NW (course 294°) into the oued.

  • Km 23 : Large track.

  • Km 23,6 : Cross the old village of Taouz. Follow the oued.

  • Km 25,6 : Go S/W following the bank of Ziz oued to the right (course 234°) up to Km 27.

  • Km 27 : Continue W/SW. (250°). Fairly rugged dirt track.

  • Km 29 : Cross Ziz oued. Rugged terrain with vegetation. CAUTION: follow markings to cross crevasse.

  • Km 31 : CP3 after Ziz crossing. Go West (course 281) until rocky peak. Stony terrain and rows of small dunes.

  • Km 33,3 : Rocky peak on the right. Sandy oued.

  • Km 33,6 : Exit oued. Slightly craggy. Hilly terrain.

  • Km 35 : Enter erg on course 269° up until large tamarix. Then 274° up to end of erg.

  • Km 36,5 : End of erg. Plateau with small pebbles.

  • Km 37 : Cross oued with vegetation, then slightly craggy.

  • Km 38 : B3 finish line.


Tim's time: 5:21:23
Leader's time: 3:01:34

Overall Tim's time: 10:35:23
Overall Leader's time: 5:42:37

Tim's position: 191st/838 finishers (11 DNFs)
3rd Australian out of 19 (1 DNF

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