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IMG_0647Participating in the MdS was an extraordinary and unforgettable experience – the stunningly beautiful yet brutal landscape (temperatures last 4 days were 50 – 54C), the incredible logistics which enabled 1050 runners and 400 organisers to move through a largely uninhabited 150 miles of desert, the entrants from 50 countries who took up the challenge, including 10 French firemen who took turns pushing a disabled child in an adapted buggy, a guy on crutches with a blade prosthesis and a partially sighted man with guide .. my 7 hilarious tent buddies who accepted me as honorary lad and had me repeatedly in fits of laughter – Tom the ex-marine has taught me a whole new set of phrases which I doubt even my kids will be familiar with (that’s probably wishful thinking!)

Here are a few of my highlights and low moments plus selection of photos which I hope give a taste of the remarkable scenery and glimpses of camp life:

Stage One – 37.2km

Biggest challenge was weight of 10kg pack, struggled with searing heat, adapting to typical terrain, mixture of ascents up jebels, mountain passes, sand mounds, camel grass, rock, crevasses, sand dunes … 1st blister (left instep), hands like 2 bunches of bananas .. glad to reach bivouac for first cup of legendary mint tea.

Ranking = 732

Stage Two – 30.7km

Most technical day with greatest ascent = 1000m: my favourite day for the views from the high mountain ridges .. 2nd, 3rd and 4th blisters plus 2 bruised big toenails .. feeling stronger by using poles which helped offload weight of pack and enabled my Saharan shuffle to increase a little in pace, gave me better balance scrambling over rocks and boulders, helped reduce swelling of hands.

Ranking = 625

Stage Three – 38km

Acclimatising better to heat, pack and terrain. 5th blister – oh the joys of wonder drug paracetamol! Shoulders and hips taped to prevent backpack rubbing. Feet and ankles grossly swollen, prickly heat unpleasant but everyone suffering so time to grit teeth and keep going.

Ranking = 594

Stage Four – 75.7km

The Big Nasty – slept badly, began with queasy tummy and nausea, slogged the first 36km feeling sick so forcing insufficient intake of water, salt and calories .. temperature 54C – reached CP3 and collapsed in medical tent with heat stroke & dehydration – my lowest point of the week .. took 2 hours to rehydrate enough to get back on my feet – staggered every step of the remaining 40km on verge of D&V. Extremely hard to maintain hydration. Crossed 10km of sand dunes between CP4 and CP5 around midnight, amazingly twinkly night sky. Buddied with 2 American guys as nervous about my condition and erratic visibility of glow sticks which disappeared amongst the mountainous dunes (biggest height and distance of dunes all week). Navigation to CP5 assisted by Star Trek-esque laser beam pointing into the night sky, visible for 20 miles. Managed hot food at CP5 but collapsed again at CP6 taking refuge in sleeping bag for an hour. Set off on last 10km around 4am .. quite surreal as shuffling alone, following pin pricks of marker glow sticks – when I felt lonely I could turn and see a tiny trail of head torch lights behind me. Dawn and sunrise were beautiful and the sight of camp made me weep .. finally hobbled over finish line around 7.20am. Learnt later that Laurence Klein, favourite to win ladies, had retired from race at CP4 with heat stroke..

Ranking = 827

Rest Day

A can of chilled coke – bloody miraculous!! Rehydrated fully and doubled my salt intake.

Stage Five – Marathon Stage – 42.2km – Final Race Stage

Feeling so much stronger, temperatures still over 50C but fully hydrated and no nausea. Remained on double dose of salt tablets. Doused my Union Jack with water and draped over my shoulders to help ward off baking heat. Realised I was maintaining quicker pace as didn’t recognise those around me. Finally glimpsed the Finish, seemed to take forever to reach and so euphoric on crossing the line I ran past Patrick Bauer waiting to present my medal and had to be ushered back .. Tent buddies probably have it about right naming me Dipsy!!

Ranking = 483 .. saved my best for last!

Final ranking = 736

Charity Stage

8km of sand dunes on Saturday in support of UNICEF, rather weary but enjoyed waving my flag decorated with the children’s names .. finally managed to feature in the official photos – the Union Jack is such a distinctive flag!

Debbie x




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