Video of 25th MdS – Harry and Simon

19 04 2010

Safe and sound

12 04 2010

“I am delighted to report that Harry Harron and Simon Saunders have successfully completed the Marathon des Sables. Both are well and will arrive back in Budapest on Tuesday [13 April] afternoon.” So reported appeal chairman Patrick McMenamin.

Jock MacKenzie, chairman of the Robert Burns International Foundation, added: ” I had a lovely surprise call from Simon and Harry this afternoon [11 April] from Morocco to say that they had arrived (within the first 50% of 800 runners) with details to follow. The principle message was that they were pleased and proud to have been a part of RBIF during the journey which part had stimulated them beyond measure!”

Stage five report

10 04 2010

Day 6, Stage 5: Marathon Stage (42km). Report from Harry:
“The boys did well today [Friday], 5hr 42min for a full marathon. We ran 90% with the hope that we can get into the top 50%. It felt like we reached the top 40% today. It is the last stage tomorrow [Saturday] which is 21km over very large sand dunes, then 7 hours back to civilisation, a shower, and a beer. The race is hard but what we probably didn’t appreciate so much was the uncomfortable element in terms of lack of food, lack of sleep, lack of cleaning; it takes its toll over the course of the week. It has truly been a physical and mental challenge. We have seen some real feats of courage and determination – people running in their sandals as they can’t fit their shoes on any more. One guy in our tent has a bladder infection, broken toe, blisters on hs blisters and took 33 hours to complete the long day, still smiling. Its been awesome.”

Stage four report

9 04 2010

After some time out for a hard earned rest, and to attend to blistered feet, Harry and Simon have emailed Adri and Tünde. Best of all, Adri was able to speak with Si via a satellite phone, and said he sounded in good spirits.

The Loons, living up to their name, tackled the long stage in one go, including a 10-hour night treck, following a laser in the sky, something Harry said was “very cool”. Si explained their plan: “Set off yesterday 8.30am for an easy 82.5km; good pace throughout the day despite baking heat. No hanging around in any of the CP for too long; Harry had some blisters patched but we pressed on into the night. Some massive dunes as we went through 15hrs and rushed the final CP, coming home in 19 hrs 35 mins, storming the last 10km and stealing at least 20 places!”

The stage has a 36 hr cut off point for completion. The boys were writing as that approached, with competitors still limping in. Harry graphically illustrated the scene: “Everyone is walking as if it is a war zone, limping and bandaged with painful expressions on their faces. It is as hard as we expected.”

It’s not quite all down hill from here though. “Only 40km tomorrow, after today’s rest, and a final 20km with 7.7km of dunes to finish,” says Simon. Harry was at pains to thank everyone who has emailed messages of support. Simon says he is looking forward to “a large steak and chips – hint, hint!”

Stage four news flash

8 04 2010

According to the official website, it looks like the Loons got into base camp at 4:51am this morning, giving them a total time for the 82km stage four of 19 hrs, 37 mins. We await their report!

A long, long way…

7 04 2010

…and a long wait for those waiting for news. We expect no details on stage four until tomorrow evening, but this, taken from the official site, gives you a flavour of what our Loons are going through right now…

This year’s long stage (82.2 km) is rather longer than the average on the MDS, but its most notable feature is the diversity of landscapes encountered. The long stage, that can run over two days, was organized so that the 50 best runners so far got to start at 12.15, while the rest of the 961 competitors still in the race set off at 9.15. The day starts with a 12km flat stretch to get to check point 1. It’s the price to pay to access the beautiful valley between Jebel Zireg and Jebel El Mziouda. After climbing up to a pass, they marvel at the extraordinary landscape: golden sand at the foot of the mountains, rocky undulations, fields of locust tree and camel grass, large stretches of black shiny stones.
Coming out of the valley, they come across CP 2, at 26.1km, and behind it, the dried up lake of the El Mader wadi. They cross it and then go up towards the El Maharch oasis, its inn and most of all its palm trees, offering shade to those who want to rest and recover. CP 3 at 38.7km heads towards the Rhéris wadi crossing and CP 4 at 51km. Most of the competitors will be spending the night on the track, using the lamps on their backpacks. Some will want to carry on no matter what, others will only stop to eat or sleep a few hours at a check point. One thing is sure, in the darkness the pace will get slower.

Stage three report

7 04 2010

This just in from Harry (via Tünde):

“We finished today a bit stronger than before. It was very long, 40km and very hot, 36 degrees. 50 people have now pulled out which tells us how bad it can get. Simon and I are well though. A few blisters and sore legs but nothing serious. Tomorrow we have then long day… maybe 20 hours, 82 km. It’s going to be hard and I hope we get a good nights sleep tonight so we are fresh. It’s hard to get a good nights sleep with so many people in the tent.”