I’ve recently had a bit of a set back with my half marathon training. During a run over Easter I became aware of a sharp pain in my right Achilles. While I finished the run I knew that something wasn’t right. After a couple of visits to the osteopath and a few weeks of rest I am now, thankfully, back on track. While I’ve lost some fitness I’m hopeful that I will be able to get through the half marathon, which is now only two weeks away.
Last weekend I called in to my local running shop to buy some carbohydrate gels to try out over the next few weeks. While chatting to the manager of the shop he happened to mention that he had recently completed the Marathon des Sables in Morocco. I had recently heard about this race, a 6-day 242km endurance race, known as the ‘toughest footrace on earth’, so I knew what an incredible achievement this was. The Marathon des Sables is the equivalent of five and a half marathons, run in the Sahara Desert over sand dunes and rocky ground in temperatures of up to 50 degrees celcius. If that’s not difficult enough, participants must carry all their own provisions (except a tent), including food, clothes, medical supplies and sleeping bag and prepare all their own meals. It was a thrill to meet somebody who had just completed it!
I found myself absolutely enthralled as I listened to him speak about his experience. I hung on every word and couldn’t help but ask question after question. He said it was the hardest thing he has ever done but he spoke so enthusiastically about having finished and he keenly showed me photos. I have always been fascinated and inspired by people who push themselves to the very outer limits of human endurance. It can be tempting to dismiss such athletes as completely crazy but I think it’s too easy to do this. Perhaps they are an uncomfortable reminder that we may not be stretching ourselves, whether mentally, physically or both, in our own lives.
I cannot imagine ever contemplating participating in an event such as the Marathon des Sables, however, I think people who push the outer limits of human endurance can serve as inspiration to us all to push ourselves towards our own outer limits, whatever they may be. I came away from the conversation feeling, more inspired, more focused and more determined than ever to complete my half marathon. It was just the spark of inspiration I needed to help me lace up my running shoes again.
(Photograph from Marathon des Sables website)