The mere thought of running just one marathon would be daunting for even the fittest people, but for the hardcore of the running world, completing 26 miles is no more than a stroll in the park. The biggest challenge to be faced is the intensely difficult Marathon Des Sables, which takes place annually in Morocco.
What is Marathon Des Sables?
It is perhaps wrong to refer to the event as a marathon as it is in fact a series of 6 marathons, or a total distance of 151 miles. The race is completed over six days. The route of the race is entirely in the Sahara desert, so runners accustomed to exercising on paved streets or a gym’s treadmill often find the terrain the hardest challenge. In addition, all competitors have to carry with them everything they need for the race, including water, change of clothing and any other supplies they require. All these factors combine to make the Marathon Des Sables something that only the hardiest and most experienced runners even contemplate.
As everything has to be carried with the participant, most travel light and take with them the bare minimum to see them through the race. A typical kit for the Marathon Des Sables will be a sleeping bag, clothing, food, medical supplies and a rucksack to keep it all in. The choice of footwear is perhaps the most critical decision, as a poorly fitting or cheap pair of shoes will not last the distance and may cause lasting damage to the feet. Although the most appropriate choice may appear to be something like the Altberg Desert Microlite boot, it is probably better to opt for a well-made pair of running shoes. Visitors who are planning on seeing a bit of Morocco before or after the race should keep their Altberg Desert Microlite boots for then rather than carrying them with them.
Entering the Marathon Des Sables is not cheap at an average cost of £2,500. This entry fee covers the cost of the organisation of the race, medical support and transport for those unable to continue. Most participants in the race are competing for charity and there are also sponsorship deals which can lower the cost of the registration fee considerably. For the true elite runner there is the chance to win some prizes, but the prize money is generally only equal to the registration fee. People running the Marathon des Sables are doing it for the challenge rather than the potential prizes.
It goes without saying that only the fittest should even contemplate the event, and mental preparation is as important as physical preparation. Blisters and sore feet can affect even the most experienced competitors, and participants in these sorts of extreme events have to start to prepare their feet for the race at least six months in advance. There are many forums online for people interested in extreme racing, and these can be a valuable source of information and support for inexperienced runners.
Altberg Desert Microlite boots are perfect for harsh desert conditions and everyday use and are available online at Trekitt.
Citations: Images by timothy.barker.