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The Marathon des Sables Curve Ball

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

The Marathon des Sables turns 30 this year, and because of this we had been warned to expect things to be a little different (a nice way of saying that our limits will be tested), and sure enough, they were true to their word. Broken into five stages, with approximately a marathon a day and one day is known as a ‘long’ day, in previous years this has been roughly 85km. Not this year, just an easy 98km over the sand. Ummm… I leave it to your imagination with what came out of my mouth. But as my father quickly added, at least the other days will be shorter. Yes, true, but did you just hear me say the ‘long’ day is 98km!!!!!

I received a text from Sam ‘can you please bring your hard drive with your music to Kenya’, followed by one from Jacq, ‘do you have any music I can load on my iPod?’ Cleary we are all concerned about how we are mentally going to get through this day. 100km (let’s round it up for maximum impact) is something I can’t actually quite comprehend. I am not even going to try. The longest I have ever run is 42km, but that isn’t really the issue here, more the fact that I will be running over sand dunes in 45-50 degree heat, carrying everything I need on my back!


We have one hell of a challenge ahead of us; I see it as 10% physical and 90% mental. It’s OK, I’ve got this. I just keep telling myself that anyway and hopefully I will trick myself into believing it!


I have less than a week left in NZ before I head to Kenya for 10 days, then on to London for two more before leaving Gatwick Airport at some crazy hour to fly to Ouarzazate in Morocco. Those who have visited before tell me I will love it; it’s a great place (minus the two friends who spent a week there during Ramadan). I wonder if they just hear the word ‘Morocco’ and miss the part where I am running 250km across the desert! But I know they are right, while my experience of this place is going to be a little different, I know it will be one of the most amazing things I will ever do. Type two fun for sure.


I have been told we can be tracked as we go through each checkpoint so I will let you know closer to the time how to do this. We can also receive emails each day, which I have been told are amazing, especially jokes, so will let you know how to do this too if you would like to send us any. I have informed my parents that I will not be contacting them, so no news is the best news and means everything is OK. If you do happen to make contact with my parents (mum especially) during this week, I give you full permission to be as dull as hell and talk only about the weather! She’s a little nervous, to say the least. Just don’t talk about the time a competitor got totally disoriented in a sandstorm, travelled 400km in the wrong direction into a different country, then slit his wrists only to find he was so dehydrated that no blood came out. He was seen alive a couple of hours later. She probably won’t appreciate that. The moral of that story though is that he survived, so I'm liking my chances of making it out of there in one piece.

I am sitting in my coffice (café/office) in Queenstown, once again with my life packed jammed in a suitcase in my car, while doing a week of speed-marketing for my magazine Say Yes to Adventure. I can’t thank you enough for your fantastic feedback and support from Volume One, I am so pleased people are enjoying it. So much so that Volume Two has been confirmed and will be released at the start of August. Ideally, I would like to get it out sooner, but I don’t touch down in NZ until the beginning of May, so it’s just not entirely possible. I am seeking new contributions right now; stories, photographs and illustrations. If you have an inspiring story or know of someone who does, please get in touch, I would really appreciate it. As with every business, the success of this magazine comes down to selling them, so if you haven’t already bought one, please do so and if you already have, thank you! They also make a fantastic gift! I promise this will be the best adventure magazine you will ever read. Click here to purchase a copy now.


The next blog will be from Kenya with more info on the race logistics. A smile has just crept across my face as I think about the six weeks that lie ahead. It will be an experience like no other, and I can’t wait.