Race report 2, March 31
After a cold and windy night the camp (111 open nomad tents with approx 8 runners in each) woke up just before sunrise at 6 am. I am very glad that I brought warm clothes and a windbreaker.The Sahara Desert can be chilly, as it still was at the start 9 am.
Today’s stage was 36 K making a loop and coming back to the same camp.
The backpack still felt quite heavy, even though I try to eat as much as possible in order to loose weight. Today the legs felt even heavier forcing me to walk some parts of the course. But I guess everyone had to struggle today, against the wind, against sore legs and feet, cramps or stomach problems. Many runners took it easy saving themselves for tomorrow’s scheduled ultra stage over 80,5K.
After the chilly morning the sun and heat arrived an hour into the stage. But its not blazing hot, which definitely helps. The race is tough enough as it is with long stretches over stoney plains that never seems to end. Today I handled the water management better never carrying to much water, which is one of the things you need to learn in a race like this. Eating enough and taking salt tablets are even more crucial for avoiding bonking and leg cramps. The stage ended with crossing an area with sand dunes (these areas are actually like islands surrounded of flat plains).I crossed the finish line after 3,49 (38th place), more than an hour after the stage winner Aziz El Akad (2,41) who also is the leader in the general ranking (I am 29th).
Last night I stopped by tent No 72 and talked to 5 of the 7 runners who spent a « cold, miserable and wet » night the day (Friday) we arrived to the race start in the desert city Erfoud. The camp was flooded and these first arrivers were soon (at 6 pm) driven to hotels, except 7 who mistakingly were left behind and had to spend the night in the abandoned camp. They were all fist timers in the MDS and couldn’t have imagined a worse first night in the Sahara. The unlucky ones, 6 brits and 1 aussie, had to « keep the spirit of the English » and try to do their best to survive the « freezing cold night » in one of the tents. « The rain was soo strong and it had even knocked out the generator. » At 4 am the water level was soo high that it wasn’t possible to lie down any longer and they had to stand up until some Morrocan army guys arrived and evacuated the group at 8 am. « All our kit, clothes, shoes and bags were soaked and covered in sand and mud. « It was a very bonding experience but we were very happy to get away from there and taken to a Hotel were we could wash all our clothes and gear. (The group was Tom Armstrong, Sydney; Felix Loman, Cambridge; Tom Davies, Keighley; Richard Snowden, London; Kris Hughes, Glouchester; Steve Elford, Plymouth and Martin Taylor, Quatar.