The Marathon des Sables is the stuff of heroes. Known as the toughest footrace on Earth, MdS is an extremely grueling multi-stage escapade consisting of 250km of endless dunes, rocky jebels and white-hot salt plains. All within 6 days. All taking place in the world’s most inhospitable landscapes – the Sahara desert.
With temperatures soaring above 45 degrees Celsius, participants must fight against the heat whilst being completely self-sufficient, carrying all their own food and equipment for the week on their backs.
So, you must be thinking where do I sign up? Probably not, but Jonny and Omar are here to tell their story, which may just convince you to join them in crossing the finishing line and becoming absolute legends.
Q: What is MdS?
Jonny: So Omar and I finished the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables, a 250km ultra marathon that takes place every year in the Moroccan Sahara desert over 6 days, the equivalent of doing one marathon per day for 6 days. It is considered to be the toughest footrace on earth with participants from all over the world carrying their own food and equipment, sleeping on the ground with no showers or basic comforts for a week .The 250km covers flat ground, sand dunes, mountains, rough terrain all in temperatures that reached 45 degrees Celsius.
Q: Why did you do it?
Jonny: I wanted to experience something unique that few people have done, to test my limits as a human being and see what i am capable of.
Omar: I decided I wanted to challenge myself with something that I felt was beyond my limit and scared me. My goal wasn’t the result, just to follow through with the commitment and making sure to go the distance.
Q: What was the most challenging part?
Jonny: The first day of the run when I was hit by the realisation that nothing had prepared us for this and was unsure if I could even finish this race. The days ahead looked impossible to complete and I even thought of dropping out the first day. With Omar’s help we completed the first day and then we stuck to it day by day. The 4th day, the 86km was hell as it took me 21 hours to complete with the blisters in my feet killing me. Tramadol was my “good” friend on this day. Also the heat and the lack of showers and hygiene.
Omar: First of all the commitment to training day in and day out was difficult especially with no running background. Just sticking to the decision I made and not giving up half way through the training. While in the race my most challenging part was on day 2 when I ended up dehydrated 15km into that run. I couldn’t put any food down and was vomiting along the way. I literally had to take it step by step. After completing the stage I ended up spending several hours in the clinic before they gave me the all clear to continue the next day. Mentally I was crushed. I wasn’t sure if I could do this and we were still only going into day 3. Mentally I was at limit, that was definitely the most challenging part for me.
Q: How did you feel after it?
Jonny: It took me 3 weeks to recover, and even though I believe we accomplished something great I still haven’t come to terms with it. I miss the scenery, the people and the whole vibe and when I look at the pictures I am filled with amazing emotions.
Omar: I decided during the race not to complain but as soon as I completed the race on the last day I declared I am ready to leave this place and head home. But as soon as I was back in Dubai I appreciated every moment of the experience and was exhilarated at what I had accomplished.
Q: What’s next?
Jonny: This is a tough one as yet I have not come up with something even though I want my next adventure to be bigger than the MdS. I have different thoughts in my mind and hopefully Marcus can help out with this.
Omar: The joy of being cut off from the world for a week and focusing on the day to day basics needed to get through the race was such a great feeling that I have been convincing the people around me to come up with their own challenge to try and experience that feeling I felt. So what next is I have convinced my wife and a few of her friends to climb Kilimanjaro, so I will support and train with them for their challenge. For me I’m still thinking.
Do you want to challenge yourself? If you’re interested in next year’s MdS then check out more information HERE or if you have some other ideas then we’d love to hear them! Chat to our coaches or drop us a MAIL and let’s become legends together.
If you are new to CrossFit and feeling inspired after reading Jonny and Omar’s story then come and sign up to our NEW STARTER program and we’ll get you on the road to your new adventure.