Finishing Marathon des Sables with Gary Pickering
In this weeks episode of the Runners Shop show over on our YouTube channel Gary Pickering joined us for a chat about running the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert. Gary has finished this 250km ultra marathon 4 times and thinks he may do it again! He has run a lot of ultra marathons and started his running career with a fun run with is daughter.
The conditions on the course range from relatively cool up to 45 degrees in the middle of the day. Participants have to deal with sand storms and running 250km the duration of the race. In addition contestants must carry every thing they need other than a tent including their own food. Water is available at the check points but that is all the assistance that the participants get.
In our imaginations the Sahara is a sandy desert with rolling dunes that go on as far as the eye can see. Actually though there are a lot of rocky outcrops that have stood against the timeless onslaught of sandblasting storms. Proceeding up and down the dunes is treacherous as there are hidden rocks in the dunes that may have jagged edges!
Gary told us that many people actually walk the event and that the Marathon des Sables has cut offs that allow for this. The pace would still have to be fast but you could do it if you were keen to complete the event without having to run.