Thursday, 18 April 2013

MdS 2013 - Part 11 - closure of this episode.

There is still time

Thank you my tent mates and friends for live:
Zoe Salt, Wayde Edwards, Simon Martin, Simon Triscott, Robert Jones, Colin Brett, John Skinner.

Would we have ever met if we would have not signed up for the 2013 Marathon des Sables?

Was it life changing? No. Has it changed some of my thinking and what is important? Yes. It is hard to say that it was the most important event in my life. I have 3 beautiful children.

So what was it:

The suffering. The heat at the day with warm water. The cold at night on your head.
The friendship.
An intimacy that goes beyond the norm?
The country?
The people. - Let's stick with people: c.1000 people running through the desert. What do you run into, people who live there. Interesting and it makes you think.
The brotherhood/sisterhood and support.
Some people got their bags lost, they were better of after than before (matter of speech). Because everybody chipped in.
The honor to be in a tent - The Richmond Park Tent with like minded supportive friends. Whatever happens. They will be friends forever.
The support of family and friends who were not in Morocco.

As this blog is also for people who were not there let me recap:
Flying out of London Gatwick 04 April, arrival in Ouarzazate same day.
One night in a lovely hotel.
Than 05 April in a bus for about 6 hours to go 320km (or so) north to the camp.
The last 5k we were transferred in old US army trucks. Thanks to the Moroccan Army I believe.
Two nights in the camp. Clearly this is a french event. Dinner is cooked and there is beer and wine.
During the day, the admin activities start and you end with only having your backpack with most needed/compulsory equipment.

There is a book by Ted Archer, Carved by God and Cursed by the Devil. This is the best description you can think of.

Then Sunday 07 April comes and it is day 1:
Self sufficient. Means cook your own food and carry the water given.
A 37.2 km run/jog/walk through the desert as a warm up.
Hygiene (basic) and privacy (more basic) rule the camp.
But also friendship and respect.
At about 1930 local time the camp is sleeping.
For as much as that is possible.
Day 1 is over.

Monday 08 April 30.7 km.
The shortest in distance. But probably the hardest. Climbing mountains, dunes, more mountains ending with rope to climb the last part.
In between it is hot, sandy, stony.
Coming at the end you can see the bivouac. So close and so far (4km only).

Tuesday 09 April 38 km
It is hot. Very hot. So we get more sand, dunes and climbs. Dunes are not always high, they are sometimes just endless. But no climbs needed.
O yeah, and what goes up, must go down. It is the day we are in my memory in what the desert looks like in peoples mind. A large sand pit with Dunes.

Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 April 75.5 km long stage.
We have until Thursday 1800 to finish.
The race leaders (top 50 or so) starts 3 hours after us mortals.
At checkpoint 2, for me about 5 hours in, the 2 leaders come by. That is 2 hours for them.
Then a long nothing.
Finally a familiar face: Danny Kendall the best brit. But regardless who they are, the love it people people cheer for them.
Then another familiar face, Alex Visram.
Than between CP2 and CP3 the lady lead Laurence Klein (3 times winner) comes by. Followed, quite far by the ladies number 2 and 3.
Then I'm caught up by Zoe. Our own Richmond Park Tent champion and later number 3 of the womens. I run with her for about 10 minutes (could be 3 but felt like 10).
Going through CP3 and not to far from CP4 this lady catches up and we chat. She asks if I speak french, to realise it is Laurence Klein. She went to hard and 50 degrees has no mercy.
We arrive at CP4 and I decide to go on to CP5 which brings me 54.5km into the 75.5km.
I'm tired but following the laser it's doable. Shame the laser doesn't come any closer. :-)
At 2045 I arrive at CP5 and decide to make bed for the night. I calculate in my head (which isn't very clear) that it will take me 10 hours at least now for the last 20 and probably way less in the morning after a rest.
It's interesting in CP5. It's coming and going of people but I like the buzz.
Wake up at 0500. Take sometime and set of at 0600 for arrival at 0800 at CP6 to arrive back at base at 1000.
I wasn't the only one, some elite runners spend the night and had to walk,
So again 8 left, 8 home.
I wasn't well, I started falling asleep at 1600 feeling rough and only to look up for the cold Coca Cola.
Than more sleep.
Thank you my tent mates, you thoughts help me.

Friday 12 April. Last day, 42.195km
What can I say. The last day. Still hot, still sandy, climbing, dunes, mountains. But still in my dream land, the desert.
At about 20km in, I bump into Genis Pieterse. And we decide to do the rest together. It's not a run, but we have lots to talk about. I want to go over there and visit him (and Tanya his wife) as he's a great bloke with a bag way to heavy and big.
At the last 6k or so we bump into somebody who was into a bad state. Nurses and helicopter there. Genis and I decide and offer to take him under our wing so he can finish. And he did finish. Well done.
We come through a deserted (or something like it) village. And in the distance is the bivouac. Distance means 4 kg.
We walk happily the 3 of us. I'm beaten by the man in a cow suit, but who cares a man who can do the MdS mainly in a cow suit is tough as nails and deserves to beat me.
I run the last 1km or so. And when arrive my friends are there. It's more important for me to hug them (as much as possible) then to go over the line quickly Nothing quick about my times. See below.
Then the long awaited medal.
At least we get normal food and it is cooked, rather than a bag with freeze dried and luke warm

Saturday 13 April. 7.7k Fun/charity run/walk.
The time below is a guess. As shuffling is least painful movement. Once done, another 6 hours in a bus. To the hotel. A shower and cold drinks and food.

Sunday 14 April.
To the clinic for last blister treatment. To the shop for the t-shirt pick up and some shopping.
Zoe and I go to town to do some shopping.
Then we meet up in Kasbah des Sables. The nicest restaurant in Ouarzazate I believe, If not, I would love to go to the nicest. It's great and we have a 3.5 hour lunch or so.

Ouarzazate and Berbere Palace are interesting. They are gateway to the desert and lots of films made in the area. Happily go back there.

Time/Distance per stage.

Notable things.
Since I've pre-registered for 2015
A blind man finished the MdS (10th time)
The French Firefighters carried 3 kids across the desert. A different kid between CP's.
A man in a blade finished the MdS.
The winner of last year in both man and woman quit.
Some of the days were the hardest ever according to people who had done it before.
Some first time starters finished in the top 10.

It's worth going there and suffer.

So what is next?
You will notice in the future.


  1. Nick Whitfield22/04/2013, 17:23

    I was following your results each night Michiel and pleased every night to see your name there.. only once on the 76km stage was I a bit worried but I didn't realise that was 2 days. Epic encounter, deserves utmost respect. One day, I will be in London and we will have that catch up... all the best

  2. thanks for share..