Tim Calver is running in the Marathon Des Sables – a 7 day, 6 stage foot race across the Moroccan Sahara Desert, in April this year.
He is raising money for CanTeen and is seeking sponsors and supporters - see his website http://www.desertultrarun.com/ for more information.
A huge amount of work and preparation is taking place just to get him to the event, besides all the serious training he has undertaken.
It's a daunting run! And lets hope the unrest in Morocco stays far away from the runners. The run itself should be more than enough of a challenge.
An excerpt from Tim's website:
It covers 245km/153 miles (in sections similar to 25, 34, 38, 82, 42, 22 km) run over 6 days (7 for some) - equivalent to 5 1/2 regular marathons. That is a speed of between 3km [walking] and 14 km [running - fast!] an hour for competitors aged between 16 and 78. In addition to that, competitors have to carry everything they will need for the duration (apart from a tent) on their backs in a rucksack (food, clothes, medical kit, sleeping bag etc). Water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint.
We have to carry and prepare all of our own food throughout the race and we will not find any supermarkets or corner grocery shops dotted around the Sahara. We will experience mid-day temperatures of up to 50°c and nights down to 0°c. All this whilst running or walking on uneven rocky, stony ground, no hard concrete or black strip of bitumen to run on and 15 - 20% of the distance is in sand dunes.
The heat, distance and rubbing has potential to destroy feet and may cause severe trauma if incorrect shoes and equipment are used. Mental stamina probably constitutes at least 50% of whether I will complete the distance or not. Physical fitness is important but mental stress should not be underestimated.. Even if you have run dozens of marathons, this does not mean that you will automatically find the Marathon of the Sands easy - either way I will be planning to do lots of training prior to the MdS.
On the 4th day, we will set off across the barren wilderness to complete an 84km stage. The top 50 men and top 5 women start at noon with the rest of the field [that are left standing] heading off at 9am.
Few people complete this before dark that evening and some will not come in until after dark the next night. This is followed by the 42km Marathon stage. It's very tough!
Could there be a similar run set up here in Australia some time in the future? The climate and conditions can be pretty daunting at times...