MdS challenge 2017

A challenge of the self

run, run, run

and then, run some more.

Hey folks,

Hope you are all well.
i’ve been a little slack in populating my blog since MdS, for that I can only apologise. However, I’m now getting to a place where I can comprehend it and will update where I left off.

However, before that, I’d just like to fill you in on what I’ve been doing since.

I moved home the weekend after MdS. Not the best timing but it was all that was available. During that week, I did no running.
Once all the stuff (lots of boxes) were transferred into new home, I started to look at running again. But, I found it difficult and again, through the week, I did no running. My bad! That was 10days without a run.

You may say, I deserved to put my feet up for longer but, I had the small matter of a 53mile race the following week (The Highland Fling), i.e. 9-10days after MdS. What could possibly go wrong!?
Turns out, the lack of leg turn over didn’t help at all. I actually thought all would’ve been ok. However, at the first hill (Conic Hill) my calves cramped and I knew then it was going to be a long day.


I adjusted my pace, my stride etc to compensate but that then aggravated other parts and eventually I found myself walking a fair few bits. Not what I had in mind but, hey! Life’s like a box of chocolates 😉

forrest gump
I eventually crossed the line approx 1Hr 40mins later than planned, in 10Hrs 43mins.

I took a rest for three days and got back into running again after that. All the runs for the next week were done at an easy pace as my legs were still a bit stiff and I had a good case of the DOMS.

After a week of running about at a much leisurely pace (that’s 5:30 / k to you although I did do a small stint (2miles) in one run at 4:20pace), I got back to ‘training’. I put my race head on again and planned out my next bout of training. I had the Great Glen Way Ultra coming up at the start of July (now only two weeks away). So, I made a decision to hit the hills every weekend. Twice across the weekend if the schedule allowed.

During the week, I also decided to hit the stairs at work and ‘make them count’, i.e. HARD sessions with 10 x efforts up 5 flights of stairs. The run out (2k) and back (up to 3-4k depending on route) would be done at MEDIUM pace (4:30) at the very least.

So that was that! I’ve been hitting the hills with some great friends, some not so great weather but each run has been fabulous.
Myself and the guys I run with have had some great banter out on these days and some spectacular views from the hills we’ve been going up and down.
Some days we’ve taken it a little easier but for the most part, for me anyways, I’ve pushed on with the pace. Not everyone enjoyed that 😉 And, sometimes, my legs didn’t enjoy it either.


One of the best sessions I’ve had out with some of the guys was a day of rain. We went totally off trail, made a new one and had to cross a river to complete our chosen route. The wind didn’t ‘help’ either. However, the three of us on that run agreed, it was one of the best days on the hills we’ve had in a while.

IMG_0516In the middle of this, I signed up for a wee 10k race. Now, I don’t normally entertain short races but I couldn’t resist. My friend, Tun, asked and why not! Afterall, it was only 10k….right? A distance I have never actually raced! Looking at the profile, I already knew it was going to be a hard 10k. And, it turned out, it was.

Tun and both finished approx 6seconds between us with Tun coming in before me.
Such short races are knackering! First k was run (for me) at 4:06 pace! Gladly, it did slow down, a little when we hit the hill (see pic). However, as it’s a race, you pushed as hard as you were able to the eventual top.

Salomon Sunset Race

As this was a figure of 8 loop, we would have to run up this again. Oh joy of joys!
My splits (below) show, I was at least trying to race it. And you can definitely tell where the hill(s) started.

Salomon 10k splits

Nonetheless, all of the above griping about it being tough, I finished 22nd overall with a smile on my face. It was a great day out and I thank Tun for asking me to chum him on this.

We are pictured with two Salomon chaps, Tom Owens & Donnie Campbell. And, believe it or not, I love the stupid grin I’ve got on my face too!
PS: As you may be able to tell, it rained!

The day after the 10k, we went out and ran 19k over the hills. Legs defo felt the effort the previous evening . Again, we had some glorious views.
Whilst you may think I’ve been taking it easy with my runs, most of my small runs have been done with effort, i.e. 4:20- 4:10 or better. I did even managed to get a PB on my one k time. 3:48 🙂 Not sure how long I could keep that up. I suspect, not long.

And, that’s been me for the last few weeks. Stair sessions twice a week, running almost everyday (varying in distance) and hills at the weekends.

We are now two weeks away from the Great Glen Way Ultra and I’m feeling ok. I have no injuries (touches wood) and I hope it stays that way for the next two weeks.
I’ll start ramping down my miles, and efforts as of this weekend and get plenty of sleep.

I’ve taken the Friday off work before the race so I can relax too. This time of running the GGW I have company. David, Tun and fellow MdS’r Rob are all tagging along. For most of them, it’ll be the first time they’ve gone more than 100k in one go.
For me, I’m just looking to beat last years time and come in somewhere under 14Hrs. I’ll be happy with that. Considering, I have the Pen Llyn Ultra three weeks after.

So, you are all caught up. Mostly!

One other thing I have done is join a running club! Eek (oh how I’ve changed)! So, I’ll be sporting a Wee County Harriers running vest soon. I’ve been to one of their training sessions and enjoyed it. Loads of abilities but the great thing was, everyone was trying as hard as they could.
I happened to pick a night where they were doing hill repeats! Oh my Dog! 30, continuous minutes of running up and down inclines. FAN TAS TIC!

Hope this finds you all well.
Keep, keeping on.


Nope, I haven’t died

Just become slightly lethargic.
Still doing the do. Just not writing about it folks.


Only three weeks before another crack at the 72 mile Great Glen Ultra.

Normal service WILL resume shortly. Honest.

Hope this finds you all well.


32nd Marathon de Sables – Race Day 1 (1)

And, so it came to pass… Race day 1 was upon us!

I had a relatively good sleep and only got woken twice. Once as it was windy and my body needed to get up at 02:00 for ‘relief’. It was ‘cold’ at 02:00, possibly below the 10 degrees it was the night before.

Camp life starts approx 05:15 with the noise of the lorry motors being started, preparing for the camp to be dismantled. So, it’s hard to get wakened and start your day too. Therefore, up & at ’em!

Collecting twigs etc around camp the evening before meant we had a wee stash for heating water for breakfast. Pot filled, fire on. Breakfast soon.
I had a rather yummy Custard and apple from Exp foods. Having tried them before I knew it worked for me. With 800 calories for 180 grams it means you get a good feed before setting off.


I wouldn’t say the tent was nervous as such but you could definitely feel there change to the atmosphere of camp as racing was starting real soon.

Breakfast done. Bag repacked and all things ‘ticked off’, i.e. water collected and poured into bottles, salt tabs in an easy reach pocket, I was walking to the start line.

Before we lined up, there was the obligatory photo. We were penned into the number 32 and the helicopter circled overhead taking shots and live feed, for we were being beamed into hundreds of homes, across various channels.
To try and ensure we knew where we were, the Lion rampant got raised above our heads. I took a photo of the helicopter circling, as you do.


Can you spot us in the 32?


As with most of my previous races, I try to get as close to the start line as possible. However, with like minded folks there too, I ended up being three lines from the front. Not too bad at all. You could still see the start line and the opening of the course in front of you.

I enjoy the feeling of being at the front. Regardless of where I end up within minutes of the gun going off, it’s always good to see the pace the front runner can set and it’s all down to yourself to either think your good enough to try and keep up with thIMG_0061em or, ignore the fact you’ve just been passed by 50 folk in 50 meters.
The latter didn’t bother me at all and I was keen to stick to my ‘plan’.

Off I set, towards CP1, 12k away. The going was good underfoot for the first few k so I was running, running somewhere in the first 100-150 peeps and running well within my pace.

Running up the front it’s easy to see the pack string out and folks settling into their pace and it didn’t take long before we hit sand.

The road book we are all given read a little something like this…

K0 – Go South (course 175 degrees)
K1 Follow the Oued
K4 Leave Oued from left side, go South (course 170 degrees) over stoney plateau
K5.5 Hilly passage
K6.7 Cluster of rocks on left side. Go SSE (course 151 degrees) sandy terrain
K8 Enter line of dunes. Go SE (course 135 degrees) until CP1
K8.9 End of dunes. Cross Oued. Flat, sandy terrain with stones
K9.5 Follow markings between lines of dunes
K13 CP1 at end of dunes. Go ESE (course 115 degrees) over slightly stony plateau

So, as you see, we had a 13k stretch of variable terrain.
All seemed well. Temperature wasn’t a problem, at the moment. So all was ok… right up until my stomach decided to tell me otherwise. That would be approx 6k in. However, I kind of ignored it and keep on running. Running towards CP1 with a good pace. I came through CP1 in 1Hr and 9mins. Only 18mins (lol) behind the leader.

Due to a little bit of walking to try and settle the stomach, I came through in 226th place. Not that I’d know that at that point.

With water refilled, I set off running, in search of CP2…


My apologies… I am working on the update but always find myself being torn away. So much to write!

What hasn’t helped… I moved home the weekend after the MdS and then had a 53 mile race the following weekend. Both of which led to less time than I would’ve liked.

And yes, I’ll have to do a report on the 53 miler too LOL

Hope you are all well. Apologies again.


32nd Marathon de Sables – Arrival & Registration

So, off we were on a magical journey to be greeted by heat (of an unknown temp) and sand (of an unknown amount). It was all very exciting.
Continue reading “32nd Marathon de Sables – Arrival & Registration”

32nd Marathon de Sables – Report

MdS 2017 It was always going to be a difficult challenge. The one thing I had been training my whole (lol) running career for. Would I be ready? How did I get on? How hot was it? Did I finish? Lots of questions, lots of thoughts and maybe, some answers.
Continue reading “32nd Marathon de Sables – Report”

32nd Marathon de Sables – DONE!

Hey, hey kids.

I’m back in the ‘normal’ world again. Back to work today and more than not, rested from my exploits. So, this gives me a little time to up date you guys & gals.

However, there is sooooo much to write, it’ll be a while before I do a full round up. For now, I’ll leave you some pics.

Many, many thanks to those that sent me messages whilst i was out there. Getting them lifted the spirits. Thanks for taking the time to do that. Muchly appreciated.

Hope this finds you all well.

I’ll write soon… honest!



T – 3days

Hey, hey folks.
Hope this finds you all well.

Today sees my last day at work until the 20th April and with that is the realisation that it’s ONLY 3 days until this Sh*t gets serious. Eeek!

Continue reading “T – 3days”

7 days!!

Hi all,

It’s now getting ‘serious’… just in case you thought it wasn’t already 😉

It’s 7days before I fly down to London and then onwards, the next day, to Ouarzazate, Morocco. Racing starts on Sunday the 9th April

We have been given a brief outline of the route for this year, as it changes every year, but specific details won’t be released until we’re there and given the handbook (road map of the route).



The 32nd edition will cover 250km in five timed stages and one compulsory charity stage. Daily distances will vary from 30km to 90km. The only provision to runners is rationed water and a bivouac each night which must be shared with seven other runners. The race requires self-sufficiency and everything a runner needs must be carried for the duration of the race.

Day 1 – A relatively flat stage with small dunes, lots of sand and a slight climb to the finish. It’s a day when many runners go too fast. Tip: Ease into the race.

Day 2 – Will be a tough stage that is long with a great deal of sand. You will climb a gorge and run down a very steep descent. Tip: Tough day, keep focused, watch your pace and keep hydrated.

Day 3 – A climb starts the day and it is followed by rollercoaster terrain taking runners up and down. One section is very steep with technical passages. If that wasn’t enough, this stage contains the first ‘real’ dunes (some are over 300ft high) of the 32nd edition. Tip: One foot in-front of the other and remember the big day is tomorrow.

Day 4/5 – The long one a feared and formidable stage, typically anything from 80-90k:. A lot of sand and some pitfalls for the feet. Two start times: 8.15 a.m. for most people and 11.15 a.m. for the first 50 men and the first 5 women. It’s a day of much sand and difficult terrain underfoot – be careful not to fall! Two passages through small gorges, a climb up a jebel (big hill), a roller coaster through the sand, and a technical descent add to a tough day. Tip: Watch out for the heat and manage the night carefully! Get your head in the right place.

Day 6 – Two start times: 7 a.m. for the majority and 8.30 a.m. for the first 200 runners. Dunes at the start and then no major difficulties, however, be prepared for a hot stretch over a long plateau… Tip: If you finished the long day, the race is in the bag. Smile!

Day 7 – Compulsory charity stage. Typically 15-20k. Time on this stage does is not added to the overall race timings.

Should you wish to send me any message of support, or other such messages, please follow the instructions below. All messages will be greatly appreciated and possibly keep me sane.

You should have received an email direct from the race organisers about this, but to reiterate…
Messages can be sent to you via the organisers’ website from 8 April until 14 April, but delivery cannot always be guaranteed. In order to send a message, your friends/family will need to go to the website and click on ‘Ecrire aux Concurrents’ (Write to Competitors).  There is a form for emails – name, surname and running (DOS) number will be required – without these, it will be impossible to locate you or deliver your emails!  We also advise you to ask your senders to include your name and running number – 756 (and tent number if known – I will only know this once I get there as they are allocated on the bus journey to camp) in the message itself.  PLEASE NOTE – this facility does not go live until we are out in the desert.

You will be issued with a GPS tracker that will allow the staff on the course to track your position, to monitor if you are of course and it also has an SOS facility in the event of emergency. It also allows your friends and family to track your progress in real-time. We will advise you prior to the race of the URL that you will be able to circulate to your followers. It is also worth advising them that in the event of the unit’s batteries running out or the unlikely event of the unit failing – your position will temporarily not be visible and they should not be concerned.

NB: It is very likely due to the very nature of the area I will be in, that communications from me will be sporadic, at best. Should you drop me a message, please do not expect that I can message back immediately. I may very well be two/three days (if not all 9days) without signal. However, I will get back in touch, when I can.

At the moment, running has reduced drastically, pace as well as distance and I’m now heat adapting the body for the shock of coming from here to there. I’m sitting in saunas & dry hot rooms over the next week to ensure the body is ‘used’ to the anticipated 40degree C temperatures that are common at this time of year.

All I have to be now is confident that the past year of learning to run, and run with a backpack, has been enough. I have done all I can do now.

I shall be creating a ‘guess my overall race time’ which I attach a few prizes. Prizes are being decided as we speak. Details to be released a couple of days before I go.
Entry to this will be a minimum donation to War Child.
Anyone wishing to enter this just now, or those that have donated already, please pm me and I’ll make sure your name is in the draw.

MDS Camp

Once again, I’m doing this to help others that are less fortunate than ourselves. Children and families that have been through, and continue to be under constant difficulties through no fault of their own.
My chosen charity is War Child and I hope to raise a few quid to help them. Your donations through my Just giving page go directly to War Child.
Many, many thanks to those who have donate already. It’s really appreciated and mean a lot personally.

Thank you for taking the time to read and support me through, what will be for me, the toughest thing I have ever done.

Warmest thanks,



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