15 January 2015

Through the desert with a pack

The Marathon des Sables is a tough race, so tough, in fact, that it is listed amongst the toughest ultra marathons in the world. Why is that, you ask?

Well, it's 150+ miles across the Moroccan Sahara, carrying everything you need for five (or six) days of running on your back; yes, that includes food, clothes, hygiene (!) and the requisite emergency gear.  The race organizers kindly provide you with approximately 10 1/2 liters of water per day, which you ration according to your needs, and a coursebook, to ensure you make a left at the next wadi.  You bivouac at night, and by this, I mean you sleep on Berber rugs laid over the desert floor under an open tent supported by wooden poles, which you share with seven other runners.

Here are a couple of recent visuals on the course itself: 
Image: Sharmanian.com
Image: MarathondesSables.com
Here's a section of the map from the coursebook last year: 
I kid you not. 

It's also the last race in my 12for12for1200 series. 

Fear not, dear readers, for I will have a teammate - the incredible Mosi Smith, also a Marine officer and Semper Fi Fund fundraiser. In case you were wondering, he's done over 14 races of 100 miles or more (including Badwater and Western States), the JFK 50-miler four times, and last year completed a triple Ironman - that would be 7.2 miles of swimming, 336 miles of biking followed by 78.6 miles of running - all in one fell swoop. He's pretty much indestructible, so I think I'll be good if I run in trail.
Mosi in action
(Image: NaturalVitalitySports)
Lest you think I am in over my head, worry not! It is Flashback Friday, after all....
I give you the following two images from almost 15 years ago:
Gaiters? Compression? What're those things? I got mad sunscreen, I'm good!
Yes, those folks are Jay & Lisa Batchen and Mike Wardian.
I'm on the right, with a super short haircut!  
But first, I have stops in Texas, Virginia and North Carolina....always one more mile to go....

(For a great race overview and recap, check out: Outrunning MS: Marathon des Sables Diary)


  1. This is awesome stuff....best of luck to you! I admire your grit and sense of adventure!

    1. Thank you - yes, I hope I never lose my sense of adventure and desire to just and see!