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.
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?