ONE MONTH UNTIL THE DESERT
In exactly one month from today, on Friday, the 7th April, I will be driving into the desert joined by 1295 fellow runners. I am a little lost for words, as I am looking back at my journey, and how time seems to have flown by. It started off in Madrid in December 2015. If I am not mistaken, it was a Saturday night that I had spent at home, when I came across a couple of videos about Marathon Des Sables on YouTube. I have heard about MDS, as it is commonly known, before, but I was far away from thinking that I would ever be participating in this event. Whilst being one of the most unique stops on the Ultra-Trail World Tour, it is also known as one of the toughest courses of such. Running and completing MDS would not only offer some incredible experience and memories, but also would grant six points towards the Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc qualification. I was fascinated by the visuals that I was watching and the reports, which I was reading. I signed up.
Almost 15 months later here I am. I have completed a number of races last year, with the Cappadocia Ultra-Trail being the longest one to date, which lead me over 115 kilometres through Central Anatolia in Turkey. I have been very fortunate to move around and to stay in various cities and places in between, but for over one month now I have been living in Barcelona. Not only did I choose the city for its special way of life, but the main reason why I came over was to train, especially to run in the sand.
After I had completed the Verona Marathon on my birthday, I was forced to rest for a few weeks due to an on-going muscle injury in my right thigh. It took a few weeks to heal properly, before I found myself in Cartagena, where I started to train again. In fact, it was the first time running in the sand and the start of my preparation for Marathon Des Sables. After two weeks in Colombia, I returned to Europe and settled in higher altitudes to continue my training. I was based in Lech for almost one month to run through the snow. Though it was freezing at times, the training had paid off well and I was able to successfully compete in the Barcelona Half Marathon, as well as Sevilla Marathon.
So, I have now been living in Spain for one month and I have been able to log a good number of kilometres running up and down the city’s beach, named Barceloneta. I have been training at different paces, with and without weight on my back, as well as started to immediate the heat by putting on a protective suit. Whilst all the latter obviously plays the major role, in order to successfully compete in the Sahara, a lot of attention has to be paid to the administrative side of things. At first, I felt a little overwhelmed by the amount of things that one has to consider before running a multi-stage race in the desert. Though, I have known about the event and the criteria for over 15 months now, I may have underestimated the organisation a little bit. Anyways, after I have spent a few days and hours fully familiarising myself with all the regulations, I believe I am on track now.
I have received the majority of my equipment and only miss a few final pieces, which are hopefully arriving soon and over the weekend, I intend to finalise my food plan. Aside from that, I have been able to train really well in the gym, as well as on the road and in the sand, although unfortunately I was unable to run this week due to a strained muscle. Though it feels better today, I will decide tomorrow, whether I will be running the Barcelona Marathon on Sunday or not. If yes, it will only be an “easy” Sunday long-run.
Whilst I am counting down the days until I get to listen to the unofficial Marathon Des Sables anthem, which is “Highway To Hell” by ACDC, I want to try to give you a little overview about what it takes to run Marathon Des Sables over the next few weeks. I will tell you more about what my days are going to look like in the desert, how I have been training, what food I am intending to eat out in the dunes, which gear I will be taking with me, and some other things that come to my mind, or you may want to know.