Marathon des Sables media roundup

Marathon des Sables media roundup

It isn’t surprising that someone running 6 marathons in 7 days across the Sahara desert would be newsworthy, but Callum’s excellent performance in the event garnered a whole lot of media coverage;

STV News // 13th April 2018

The Herald // 14th April 2018 // page 8

The Herald weeventure media coverage marathon des sables

 

The Daily Record // 14th April 2018 // page 17

Daily Record Weeventure Marathon des Sables media coverage

 

The Courier // 11th April 2018

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/633483/tayside-man-taking-part-in-toughest-footrace-on-earth-on-track-to-reach-elite/

 

The Courier weeventure media coverage marathon des sables

 

The Evening Telegraph // 13th April 2018

https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/former-dundee-school-pupil-callum-on-track-to-join-the-worlds-elite/

evening telegraph weeventure media coverage marathon des sables

 

Energy Voice // 11th April 2018

https://www.energyvoice.com/other-news/168547/oil-worker-taking-on-toughest-footrace-on-earth-in-sahara-desert/

Energy Voice weeventure media coverage marathon des sables

 

 

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

Stage 5 complete – Top 100 ranking // Marathon des Sables 2018

Stage 5 complete – Top 100 ranking // Marathon des Sables 2018

We all knew he was fit and that his drive would lend him and advantage but I don’t think even  expected Duffy to be so far up the leaderboard at the end of Stage 5 of the worlds toughest footrace, the Marathon des Sables.

58th place! 

Holy thigh chafe Batman! That is quick.

The fifth stage involved another marathon, the full 42km of it. It crossed a variety of terrain, from rocky plains to sandy dunes. The ridiculous thing about this day is that it is almost made to seem like a mere formality, a fun run when viewed through the lens of the previous long day. Yet it is a marathon, a full marathon. In scorching heat and on extremely tired legs. People train for years to do a full marathon in the comfort of temperate Britain’s smooth roads and view it as the greatest challenge of their life. That such a day can be seen as merely the home straight is testament to the scale of the challenge.

Duffy started strongly, clocking a 4hr pace for the first 10km and sitting in 40th place for the day. But even he succumbs to human feelings and the exertions of the previous week meant that tired legs didn’t fancy cooperating with the pace his ambition was setting. So a more sensible strategy ensued and he settled into a more sustainable pace, bringing home the final marathon in just over 5hrs, which meant his cumulative time was enough to secure him 58th spot overall in the competition. He was also 10th placed Brit, out of about 250-300 who take part.

For his first crack at a competitive multi-day competition, this is an incredible result. He is, after all, about half a foot too tall for the ideal endurance runners build. It’s basically like someone being invited along for a knock about at the local tennis club and then finding themselves at Wimbledon within the same year.

So we’ll do a full debrief with Duffy in the forthcoming weeks, but the big question now is; what’s next?

 

 

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

Marathon des Sables Marriage Proposal 2018

Marathon des Sables Marriage Proposal 2018

The Marathon des Sables is a life defining event for many and what better way to mark such a seminal moment than to combine it with a marriage proposal?

Well as we were waiting for our man Duffy to come in on the long day of the event, we spotted a fella kneeling down in front of the camera. What’s this? Unlike all the other people waving for the camera, he had the presence of mind to get someone to shine a torch on him. An in the grainy light of that headtorch we witnessed a Love Actually-esque proposal. He even got down on one knee. It’s more amazing that, after 86km, he managed to get up again without assistance.

So, Richard Carpenter (#684), we hope that Laura (is that right?) says yes and you can have a dual celebration tomorrow.

Marathon des sable marriage proposal 1Marathon des sable marriage proposal 1

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

Unconquerable soul // Duffy smashes the long phase // Stage 4 // Marathon des Sables

Unconquerable soul // Duffy smashes the long phase // Stage 4 // Marathon des Sables

Our man Duffy has really continued his run of form in the Marathon des Sables with a strong performance in the long day.

 

Back in December, when on a training hike in the very un-Saharan like temperatures of the Cairngorms, we discussed possible strategies for the event and Duffy reckoned that conserving energy during the hottest part of the day, just ticking over the miles, would allow him to may hay while the sun stops shining. He seems to have taken these tactics to the desert, keeping an easy pace until Checkpoint 3, at which point he stuck the afterburners on and rose 40 places in the rankings. Between there and Checkpoint 7 he chipped away at the competition, rising to 73rd and once that last milestone was cleared he did just what I expected him to and pushed again, rising higher still to finish the day in 62nd place, which puts him in 35th overall, with one marathon left to go.

long day  marathon des sables

 

To finish in the elite group would be truly spectacular, especially for a runner who doesn’t train with a club, doesn’t generally compete in the athletics scene (but wins medals when he does) and whose shorts are of normal length. He’s also a bit too tall for the ideal runner’s build, standing at about 6’1″. Yet what he possesses, a trait both born and bred in him by his parents and honed through years of testing challenges, is a mental endurance far superior to the vast majority of people. In short, he will go, always a little further.

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

Stage 3 // Marathon des Sables 2018  //  Duffy on the attack

Stage 3 // Marathon des Sables 2018 // Duffy on the attack

In Stage 3 Duffy went on the attack, boosted by confidence from previous days.

31,6 km for the third stage 🌅🏃😃 #MDS #MDS2018 #marathondessables

A post shared by MARATHON DES SABLES (@marathondessables) on

 

It was a 31.6km stage which involved a couple of climbs mid course and then a hard drive to the finish. Duffy increased his pressure on the athletes, many of whom are probably pro or semi-pro (as opposed to a beardy geologist who goes jogging in his lunch break). He finished this stage in 28th place, bringing him up to 37th overall. For the statisticians amongst you, that places him in the top 3.5% of athletes.

Epic effort which means he’ll start the long day in the Elite Top 50, which means they start the double marathon 3hrs behind the main pack.

I may have been forced to pull out of the event, but let’s be fair, the only time I would have seen him on course would have been when he overtook me on this phase.  But, it means I am free to pester you all to type a quick message of support to him (bib 411).

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

Support Callum Duffy as he competes with the Elite in the Marathon des Sables

Support Callum Duffy as he competes with the Elite in the Marathon des Sables

We all knew he was an endurance machine, both physically and mentally, but Duffy is surpassing even our high expectations in the Marathon des Sables 2018.

Currently, he waits for the start of the “long stage” with 49 other other members of the world’s most elite endurance athletes. This will see day 4 of the infamous race and its double marathon take place. We can expect the elite athletes to come in somewhere between 8-14hrs with the rest of the pack being given a maximum of 35hrs to complete the challenge. The reward for finishing this stage? Well if they finish quickly then tomorrow is a rest day. But not much of a rest because the final race day on Friday takes the form of a full marathon.

Determination is not something which Duffy lacks but support from home will undoubtedly give him the extra boost he needs to bring the race home with a strong finish on the final marathon.

So, take 2 min on your phone or computer to click the link below and write to Callum Duffy, bib number 411, to ensure he knows that everyone is willing him on.

http://www.marathondessables.com/en/marathon-des-sables-maroc/write-to-a-racer

Once you’ve done that, you can track his progress here:

https://mds.waa-tracking.com/waatracking/en-US/mds/MDS2018/Live/Index

And see the results here:

http://www.marathondessables.com/results/live/g-live.html?f=MDS2018/MDS2018.clax

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

Duffy continues his run of form in Stage 2 // Marathon des Sables 2018

Duffy continues his run of form in Stage 2 // Marathon des Sables 2018

Stage 2 of the MdS 2018 is over for Duffy, though plenty of people are still slogging away in the desert. He came in 45th on this second stage which, at last checking, brought his overall placing up to 42nd.

 

If we were worried that he had pushed too hard on Day 1, we needn’t have been. Another solid performance in Stage 2 has meant that he is well placed to churn out tomorrow’s stage and remain in the top 50 which will be classed as “Elite” and allow him to start the long stage 3hrs behind the main pack.

People get so obsessed about the prep for this event, and churning out huge mileages. that they break themselves. Duffy had a solid build up with two 50 mile races and a trail marathon but other than that he’s just been training on roads near the house, with a few runs around Hyde Park during lunch breaks. More important is 1.) his fortuitous genetics; and 2.) experience –  he knows how to push on with a physical challenge. He classed his prep coming into the event as less than ideal, having taken a few weeks off for a cold. It seems the longer pre-race rest period may have left him with more in the tank than he had hoped.

Remember you can track him here or write to him here

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

Duffy finished Stage 1 in 44th place  //  Marathon des Sables 2018

Duffy finished Stage 1 in 44th place // Marathon des Sables 2018

The Marathon des Sables 2018 is underway and our man is doing us proud. Callum Duffy finished Stage 1 in 44th place (7th Brit). What a phenomenal effort!

That’s 18.83 miles in 2hrs 53min 21sec. That’s a fairly steady 9.21min/mile for him. He did say he wanted to use the first few days to get his bearings and try to move on places in the long phase. So this seems consistent with that.

On a training hike in the Cairngorms we discussed relative ambitions. Mine were to finish mid table at best, his were to finish in the top 100. Assuming he keeps injury free, I’ve every faith in his experience at long distance, load carrying expeditions to carry him through to a top 50 finish.

You can view results here: http://www.marathondessables.com/results/live/g-live.html?f=MDS2018/MDS2018.clax

Also you can write messages of support to him here (his bib number is 411): http://www.marathondessables.com/en/marathon-des-sables-maroc/write-to-a-racer

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

The terrible decision – pulling the plug on a decade old dream

The terrible decision – pulling the plug on a decade old dream

This won’t be a long post. I don’t want to labour the point. But I had to make the terrible decision to pull out of the MdS 2018. Hobbling through that inflatable arch and finishing the race with Duffy had been a constant visual in my head for the past two years since sending him a link to the registration of interest form. Experiencing the race had been something I had dreamed of since we discussed it in the school library in the 1990s.

I can’t begin to explain the impotent anger I have felt since I realised that I would be unlikely to be able to take part. It got to the stage where I almost hoped to get mugged so I could vent my fury on someone who deserved it. But a jail sentence would hardly have helped matters.

The only way I don’t descend into a spiral of depression at the moment is to assure myself that it is run every year and I can sign up again. Before that point, there is work to be done on a wonky right leg and general circumstances.

Some perspective also helps. As much as doing this is probably the personal priority in my life, it is still just the pinnacle of Maslow’s Pyramid. I am totally sorted for food, shelter, water, a lovely wife, the ability to earn a living, freedom from being bombed, etc etc that much of the world doesn’t have. If I didn’t have them, I’m pretty sure a middle class marathon in Morroco wouldn’t be much of a concern. To complain of not being able to do a large and punishing fun run would be first world problems indeed.

I didn’t think I could bear to hear anything about the MdS this week, as finishing it would undoubtedly be one of the happiest days of my life. But actually, supporting Duffy is a good substitute. So I will throw myself into that and in the future, when I do make it to the desert, it will be all the sweeter.

 

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.

Winter Driving: A winter car kit to keep you safe

Winter Driving: A winter car kit to keep you safe

If you’re driving to the hills in winter, as we did recently, or even just cutting about your local area over any distance, you’ll want a winter car kit in order to be prepared for the conditions on the road.

winter car kit

The first, most important and most useful thing to equip yourself with is proper knowledge. Knowledge of how to drive in icy and wintry conditions will go a long way to preventing you needing to use the car kit in the first place. There are courses to help you learn these skills but even a short session in a skid pan will give you a good idea of how to control the car in a slide. Alternatively, when wintry weather comes, find yourself a large, empty superstore car park and test out braking and cornering in a safe but real environment. Don’t try and set the donut record though, you’ll probably get arrested.

You’ll also want to make sure that your car is ready for winter, with anti-freeze and screenwash topped up, etc.

So, having learned the skills, you then want a backup. That’s where your winter car kit comes in.

A basic winter car kit, and there are many available to buy, will include de-icer, screenwash, a scraper, etc but the list below is what we would pack in the boot for the winter in the UK. Also, though not mentioned below, if you’ve got the funds to splash out on a set of winter tyres, which start to improve performance as the temp drops below 8c, then that’s advisable. In Scandinavian countries, it’s a legal requirement.

Wooden handled shovel


I’ve seen a few of the kits which suggest using an entrenching tool because they are compact. But I would always go for a wooden handle because wood is a much better insulator than metal. If the temp is dropping below zero you definitely don’t want anything to drain heat from your fingers quicker than absolutely necessary. The colder your fingers get, the less useful they will be.

Hi-vis clothing


You’ll want to be seen. A minimum inclusion in your winter car kit would be a simple high-vis vest. A better option would be a fleece lined hi-vis jacket.

Headtorch (and spare batteries)

You’ll be using your hands, or keeping them in your pockets. A headtorch makes things easier. Also, batteries drain quicker in cold weather so have spares.

Gas Stove (and/or a Kelly Kettle)

A warm drink not only raises your core temperature, but it raises morale. In really cold conditions, gas stoves become less useful as the pressure in the canister drops and it’ll take you a year to warm water over a meagre flame. In this case a Kelly Kettle, plus some sticks for fuel, will allow you to boil water regardless of the temp. Plus you can pop the cork in and use it as a hot water bottle.

Thermal Mug & Hot Chocolate

No point in boiling water for it to go cold immediately so a thermal mug is great. Also, as much as tea and coffee are lovely, I find that Hot Chocolate with milk powder mixed in i.e. Highlights, is the best because it only requires hot water for a comforting brew.

Cat Litter

When stuck in a snowdrift for hours, nature may call. But that secondary benefit aside, I always pack a bag of gritty cat litter in the boot because on icy, hard packed snow, pouring a small path of this in front of the drive wheels will probably get you on the move. I have tested this for real a few times and it has worked a treat. It’s cheap, the bag is easy to pour from and store. Nice one.

Folding Saw/Leatherman tool


If you are out in the country and you get stuck in snow or ice, and the job is too big a task for one bag of kitty litter, you may find yourself wishing for some matts to get you free. Well, a trick I adopted from an experienced Land Rover driver in Uganda is simple – branches. Most of the time in Scotland you are not far from evergreen trees. a good armful of these branches will see you out of the mire. Sure, you could rip the branches from the trees like some sort of angry gorilla, but it’s far easier to simple saw a few off. I like a plastic handled Gerber saw but a Leatherman could do the job too.

Cyalumes (posh glowsticks)


Awfy useful things for providing 12hrs of light without running any batteries down, or for sticking on the back of your car as a warning light.

Thin Gloves


If you’re fiddling with shovels and saws, thin gloves will allow you the dexterity required, while still protecting you. Pop a pair of mitts over the top when you aren’t doing anything and this will keep your wee fingers toasty and free from frostbite.

Warm Clothes

Fairly self-explanatory, but keep a set in your winter car kit. One that you aren’t tempted to take items from. That way you’ve always got warm kit to stick on. Hat, fleece, thick socks if the mood takes you, that sort of thing.

Sleeping Bag/Survival blanket

If it’s going to be a long night, then a decent amount of insulation will mean you don’t have to be uncomfortable when out on the road. Fold down the rear seats on most cars and you’ll be able to sleep flat and fully extended with you legs going into the boot. But even if you have to make the best of your seat, a sleeping bag or at the minimum, a foil blanket, will keep you that bit warmer. Have one for every passenger.

Scraper (and possibly de-icer)

When ice coats your windows, you’ll need to clear them to see, obviously. I prefer to use a scraper as the glass ice clear and clean afterwards. De-icer seems to leave a streaky sludge on the windows. Actually, let’s be honest, I usually use a Starbucks loyalty card as a scraper but proper, insulated ones are available.

Hopefully that provides some help to you and we wish you bon voyage on whatever winter adventure you’re undertaking.

mm

Rob is a chubby, out of shape bloke who spent a lot of time in Sub Saharan Africa peering down well shafts. He is not suited to running long distances.