Day 1 – The “Easy” Day

Day 1 can be summed up by 2 things DUNES and HOT. Otherwise known as the easy day gone horribly wrong.

Dunes, dunes and a few more dunes.

Imagine you have been told to sit down and come up with the world’s toughest footrace, you can do it anywhere in the world it just has to be seriously hard, take 6 days to complete and ultimately you still want some people finishing. Well I imagined that when Patrick Bauer (the founder of the Marathon des Sables) thought about the race he would at least let people acclimatise on the 1st day. It also seemed that way when we were given the road book,  which described and marked out the route for each day,  as it was a short day at around 32 km. However there was a long section marked dunnes and another marked “dunnets”, which turns out to be smaller dunes. At this point if you haven’t been to the desert imagine a seaside resort, I thought of St. Andrews beach and the dunes there and just thought there would be more of them. This turned out to be completely wrong, they were huge. I have described it to people as your typical highland glen but rather than a covering of thick powder snow it was pristine, untouched (bar where we had been) and deep sand. Just check out the size difference between the helicopter, the runners and those sandy bumps in the background.

Although it was a tough start it certainly got all our feet accustomed to the sand, heat and running quickly enough to develop some beautiful blisters. But even better than that was the views, it appeared to be a never-ending sea of sand with a perfect blue sky. It suddenly made all the hours training in the cold and wet back in the UK more than worthwhile. The day finished in what felt like a baking oven, the camp had been set up in the middle of a long, flat, black rocky plain. It was oozing heat. All I wanted was a cold drink, a shower and to put my feet up when I crossed that stage line for the day. I got none of that. But I did get my ration of lukewarm water and a glass of mint tea which did go down very well. 1st day down only 5 more to go…


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