Why I’m running the Marathon des Sables? – Dad Bod Diaries #1

Why I’m running the Marathon des Sables? – Dad Bod Diaries #1

I hate running.

There you have it. That is my reason for signing up for 6 days of running across the Sahara desert.

I try to like it but you see I’m a bit like Gimli in Lord of the Rings;

Even when, during that brief moment in puberty when I grew to the height of a man with the body mass of a medium sized otter, I was physically capable of running long distance effectively I never felt any love for it. That is not to say I was not reasonably athletic. As a boy I played rugby to a reasonable level, being part of a Scottish championship winning youth team and earning modest representative honours for the district. One seminal night in 1996 I learned to love athletics too, as I watched Michael Johnston storm to victory in the 400metres in Atlanta. As 13 year olds, we assumed the 400m was middle distance, not a sprint. In that moment I understood that I could do more than I though it was possible for me to do. In the school years that followed I won multiple sports championships (multi-event athletics) and broke the school discus record. The points for these however, did not come from running far. Genetics meant I was somewhat of a natural mesomorph, destined to be good at shifting heavy things, quickly. Incidentally, all the distance medals were mopped up by Callum anyway.

What I lack in terms of being aerobically fit, I make up for in being spectacularly stubborn. I enjoy endurance competitions when they go well beyond physical fitness and into the realms of mental fortitude. Sure, some 8 stone racing snake will leave me miles behind in a marathon, but how would he fare after two days carrying 50kg without sleep?

Why do people love these self-harming challenges? I could give you many deep and meaningful reasons but your man Johnny Cash hit it on the nugget when he sang(?) the lyrics “I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel”. I grew up in the country, did my first munro aged 6 and was rarely ever indoors. My current life, lived in the cosseted world of a city, working in an office, removes you from a sensory connection with what we, as humans, are meant to be. So it’s a mighty good way to blow away the cobwebs of modern life. Self-sufficient long distance running is what humans are designed to do. True story (possibly).

But, and like that overdeveloped gluteous maximus which makes humans so good at running it’s a big butt, that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy the sport of running. I far prefer worshipping at the iron temple, hoisting weights to get pumped for absolutely no practical purpose. I do it because I get a much bigger endorphin rush from that. Basically I enjoy it … and every child of the 80s yearns to be in their own Rocky montage. By taking on and possibly completing one of the hardest running events in the world, I’ll hopefully earn the right to never have to run more than 30 yards between ruck again.


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.

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