GR54: Rematch

GR54: Rematch

Planning has started for the long awaited (at least by me) rematch with the GR54.  After it kicked my arse last year I intend to be better prepared in terms of hill fitness, food and equipment.  A reminder of the route is below.  I arrive in Lyon on the evening of the 12th of June and fly back on the evening of the 17th.  I have four full days available to me on the trail to do what needs to be done.  At this stage I’m planning on it taking 3.5 days.

 


Over the coming months i’ll keep you updated on training, equipment and the food tasting sessions that i’m particularly looking forward to.

mm

Callum is an engineering geologist with a love of the great outdoors and physical challenges in extreme environments.

The Cotswold Way Century

The Cotswold Way Century

The ultimate challenge of ultra running for me is the 100 miler.  An unfeasibly long way that just seems way beyond what anyone should try and run.  After the Marathon Des Sables in April and the trip to the Alps in June it was time for the next challenge.

The Cotswold Way goes along the Cotswolds Hills from Chipping Camden in the North to Bath in the South hitting just about every hill and ridge and every valley bottom and picturesque village on the way.  The event is run by Kurt of Cotswold Running along with a string of other events in and around the Cotswolds such as the Broadway Marathon and Naunton nearly 19.

The race started at midday on Saturday the 22nd September after a journey by train and bus from Oxford.   A thing that didn’t quite sink in completely until shortly before the race was that this would require running throughout the night.  I was aiming initially (a little optimistically) for between 20 and 24 hours.  For this I had taken my 50 mile time, multiplied it by two then added a little more.

Things didn’t look good for the race in terms of weather.  Autumn seemed to have decided that this would be the weekend to make its appearance.  This combined with the tail end of the hurricanes coming across the Atlantic didn’t help.  The forecast was for rain, wind and cloud and it didn’t disappoint.

In terms of gear I kept it fairly simple – I wore the Altra Olympus trainers with Injinji wool socks and another pair of Darn Tough low wool socks, underarmour compression heat shorts with some regular shorts over the top, I wore my adidas coolmax long sleeved shirt (the same as for the MdS) and the Outdoor Research cap.  There is some compulsory gear to carry such as a spare long sleeved top, waterproof jacket, hat/buff and some emergency gear.

We started in the rain and progressed up the first slopes trying to keep it nice and slow but still not wanting to get behind too may people.  I had a plan to keep well on top of my hydration and keep eating as I progressed.  I was mostly carrying real food like oatcakes and pretzels with a few shot bloks and some kendal mint cake.  I wanted to stay away from too much sugar until I got well into the race.  Things were nice and steady in the beginning just plodding along as we went towards Broadway Tower and then descended down to the village of Broadway.  I remembered this section of the route from the marathon the previous November so was familiar with this part of the route.

From here the rain came on again and the cloud started to come down.  I mostly ran by myself just keeping the pace steady and enjoying the surroundings.  It must have been about 40 miles in when the light started to fade and I passed by what must be an prehistoric fort or settlement.  I descended from here and recognised a face from a previous Cotswold running event – he had won the marathon and set the record for the Century the year before – Rob Forbes.  I ran with him a bit before he took off for the next checkpoint  – he was helping out and not competing this year.  I arrived at the checkpoint got some help topping up with water and got the first of a series of cups of tea throughout the race that made a huge difference.

From here it was head torch territory as I entered the woods and went back and forth along what seemed to be zig zagging paths finding it hard to get any feel for direction.  As the night closed in the race was pretty much a series of paths and track through the woods with people occasionally passing and me occasionally passing someone.  The halfway stop was very welcome particularly the veggie chilli and more tea!  it was good to get some shelter and recharge a little.

It must have been almost mile 60 when the temperature dropped and the wind and the rain came in again, it was particularly difficult to see with the low cloud reflecting all the light of your head torch back into your face.  Thankfully voices carried into the dark and I homed in on a tent with a welcome stove and cheerful faces.  Another cup of tea and some Pringles and I wanted to get going again – no point waiting to seize up.  Back into the woods and I headed towards the notorious golf course where the trail basically does a 3 mile loop.  I met up with a lady here who was familiar with the course and had a garmin etrex to help with the route.  I relied absolutely on her for this part of the course so thank you!  We went onto the next checkpoint relieved to be out of the cold and to have another cup of tea and some spaghetti O’s.

As we did time calculations I was not happy with how long this was looking like taking.  The final time wasn’t so much the problem – more the fact that I didn’t want to be on my feet pushing at the final cut off and then still having to get the train home.  I decided to push on and increase the pace as the first morning light came in.  It was a relief but it didn’t bring much warmth, instead we got more rain and wind.  At this point I donned my extra layer to try and keep the cold off and kept moving – by this point your pretty drained and constant rain and wind had sapped a lot of my energy – hypothermia wasn’t far away in conditions like these.

It’s probably a good time to dispel some myths about ultra “running”.  When the majority of people say the they run an ultra marathon what they really mean to say is that they ran and walked an ultra marathon.  A significant amount of time and the distance is done walking or shuffling along.  It’s generally only the top people who run the whole or majority of the way – so don’t feel bad if you need to walk – it’s essential in order to complete it for most people!

The last 25 miles or so were not really that notable.  The people who knew how to pace a race of this length started to go by and my legs started to progressively get harder to move.  On the plus side the rain stopped and it finally started to warm up.  The sun came out for the last 15 miles and I even ended up a bit sun scorched by the end.  I walked it in for the last 10 or so miles soaking up the views of Bath and the surrounding countryside.  I even took time to read the signs at the site of a Civil War battlefield.  From here I walked passed by the race course and continued on down to Bath where I though it would be a straight route down to the centre.  Unfortunately I think the official route planners needed to make up some extra distance on the cotswold way by the time they got to Bath so the route goes up and down a few hills on the outskirts of Bath before finally taking you into the centre and past the grand old buildings.

The very last stage takes you into the very centre of the city to the Cathedral.  By this point I was having a nice stroll – no real desire to push the pace.  I was happy to be getting to the end of this endeavour and having achieved the “big one” of ultra distance running.

I rounded the corner for the last approach to the cathedral, broke into a trot and was happy to be done with it.  What a slog! 102 miles in 26 hrs 46 minutes

I’ve achieved all I want to in terms of running goals for the foreseeable future.  Bring on the light hikes with flask of tea and some sandwiches!

mm

Callum is an engineering geologist with a love of the great outdoors and physical challenges in extreme environments.

The Tour de Oisans (GR54) and other adventures

The Tour de Oisans (GR54) and other adventures

A few colleagues were heading to the cycling mecca of Bourg de Oisans in the French Alps, home to Alpe d’huez and close to other famous cycling climbs such as Col du Galibier and Col de la Croix de Fer as well as the notorious La Marmotte route.  Not being much of cyclist I looked into what else was around – enter the GR54 or Tour de Oisans.

The GR54 is one of the great long distance walking trails in France known as the GR’s or Grand Randonees. They exist across the country with the most impressive being in the Alps, Pyrenees and, a personal favourite of mine, Corsica.  The GR54 goes around the L’Oisans region in the French Alps circling the high Oisans and Ecrins massifs with the start and finish in Bourg de Oisans.  The complete route is approximately 100 miles with, in the region on 11000m elevation gain and lost.

We flew into Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport on a Thursday afternoon with the return flight scheduled for Monday mid-afternoon giving a full 3 days to complete the route.  With the 50 miler and MdS experience I figured I could push out the 30 odd miles a day needed to complete the route and possibly even finish in two and half days.  Then I started…

It was about 5:45 when I set off from the village of Oz to get to the start point in Bourg de Oisans. Thankfully a friend had been coerced into giving me a lift to the start point to help me on my way rather than having to walk the extra few miles.  As described in the guidebook the start is a strange place where you are greeted by signs telling you not to urinate.  You quickly pass by these and straight into the climb up the stepped cliff face then passing through deciduous woods before climbing higher up towards the mountain village of La Garde and skirting the other side of the valley from Alp d’Huez. Following the Sarenne River you come into a ski area with a Via Ferrata to the left side and continue climbing up the valley ahead.  The summit is the col du Sarenne with great views to Le Meije and the Oisans Massif. It was still overcast for this first section of the route with the sun starting to make an appearance as I summited the col.  Things were going well up these initial climbs, making good progress.

The decent from Col du Sarenne is hard going.  After following a few switchbacks on the road you descend via a rocky footpath towards the village of Clavans le Haut and continue down towards a river crossing via the road bridge before the short and sharp climb up to Besse. Besse is a very picturesque mountain village with the characteristic stone and wood houses with the main living area above the old barn area below.  The initial climb out of Besse follows the road towards the east before joining a footpath with zig zags up the grassy slopes.

The highest parts of the route in this section are the two col’s either side of the Plateau d’Emparis, which is a beautiful grassy area on a high plateau.  This was a highlight and I could see how later in the summer it would be really nice to have spent more time here at one of the refuges overlooking Le Meije and the Romanche.  This part of the route, though the most pretty, also sucked the energy out of me. The climbing was hard and continuous but the higher altitude and resultant exposure to the sun was the real killer.  I could feel the sun starting to sizzle my right side (it’s always my right side! – see SDW50 post).  Saying goodbye to the Plateau d’Emparis I started the long descent towards La Grave taking in some smaller villages and a combination of rocky tracks and tarmac roads. Entering La Grave I could tell the sun had seriously taken its toll so I stopped and rested a while and contemplated the plan.  Initially I had hoped to get close to Vallouise on the first day – setting me up for the two more challenging days in the south.  Though it was still only mid afternoon I couldn’t see this happening now.

Feeling pretty weak and overheated I carried on out of La Grave heading for the woods and the exceptional walk alongside the Romanche.  This section is a remarkable walk along the river with wildflowers and shrub vegetation.  After a while the river swings to the southeast and I started to climb up towards what eventually would be the col d’Arsine.  The valley closes in during this section with high cliffs and valleys on either side.  This had a true mountain feel to it and a taster of what the rest of the route would be like.

I decided to set up my camp for the night after the first significant climb towards col d’Arsine. It was good to be out of the sun and cooling down.  I could feel the burn on my arms and the effect of the heat during the day and decided I wasn’t going to push on any further and would head back towards Bourg and Oz the next day.  At the pace and condition I was in I wouldn’t be able to commit to the route beyond Vallouise, after which there are few viable ‘outs’ that would enable me to catch the flight.

Mt first attempt at the GR54 ends in failure.  I will be back next year better prepared for the sun, the heat and the route.  I have already booked my flights for the second round!

One benefit of not hammering the rest of the route was that I was able to have one of the best day hikes I have had in a long time.  The route starts approx. 13km to the north of Oz past the village of Le Rivier d’Allemont. The start is conspicuous due to a large landslide in the 1980’s that blocked the road and led to the rerouting of the main road further down the valley.

From the start you follow the river and a sequence of waterfalls up a long and steep climb to get onto the plateau.  There are a few river crossings and plenty of loose rocks on the footpath.  I also got to spot a few Ibex as I came to the top of the climb.  The plateau then opens up to a view of lakes and snow fields.  The snow was soft and wet which gave some difficulties in skirting the steep slopes around the lakes but was all good fun.  I pressed on over the high point of the walk and descended slightly to the refuge des 7 Laux.  Some very friendly Frenchmen offered me swig of Rosé and then I took off, retracing my steps across the snow fields, skirting the lakes and back down the steep path along side the waterfalls.  At the end of the footpath I descended further onto the road, following the new section to the bottom of the valley.

From here the terrain and the vegetation changed completely.  I went from a high Alpine world to one of mixed woodland along the steep valley side.  This seemed to be part of a very old trail network linking places at either ends of the valley.  Largely disused, there were fallen trees and deep leaf litter along most of the path. After the hard rocky trails it was a pleasure bounce along this winding path.  Eventually, I emerged in the villages at the southern end of the valley and headed back to Oz satisfied that even though I’d missed out on completing the GR54 this time I had had one of the best days in the mountains.

mm

Callum is an engineering geologist with a love of the great outdoors and physical challenges in extreme environments.

Marathon Des Sables 2018 Kit List – Clothing & Gear Review!

Marathon Des Sables 2018 Kit List – Clothing & Gear Review!

The gear you choose takes up a lot of time and may or may not make a huge difference in how you do during the Marathon Des Sables.  I’m going to go through my kit list, gear and clothing choices and let you know how I got on.

Kit List: Clothing:

I left the clothing choice until quite late in the day, as I could never really make my mind up. Everything said to take compression shirt and shorts but I’ve never really liked compression gear for running. In the end my priority was skin coverage and something that wasn’t too tight or too billowy.  I went for an Adidas response long sleeved t-shirt (Adidas Shirt) and shorts (Adidas Shorts), both made of climacool material that may or may not have kept me cooler (who knows!).  Both performed really well but the label placement on the inside from seam of the shirt doesn’t help when your wearing a rucksack waist belt.

To get the skin coverage I also wore some UnderArmour Heatgear ¾ leggings (Leggings).  This was really out of fear of sunburned legs (note my first post on the blog).  These were great and I didn’t get overheated in them. If was to do it again (I have no plans to) I would leave the leggings and just make sure to use some good sunscreen. It would be nice to have a bit more air circulation.

I went with a two sock approach the first were some injinji merino liner socks (Injinji Liner).  These were great and prevented my toes from rubbing together. On top of these I wore some Darn Tough Merino ankle socks (Darn Tough Low).

Finally on the clothing front I wore a pair of Altra Lone Peak trainers.  Altra make some great trail running shoes.  Altra shoes are all zero drop (same height at the heel and toe but have a good amount of cushioning in the sole.  I was deliberating between the Olympus or the Lone peak but the thinner sole (compared to the Olympus, but by no means thin) of the Lone Peak won out for the MDS (Altra Lone Peak 3.5).  The shoes proved to be really hard wearing with no wear on the sole, which is saying something considering I saw other people’s trainers falling apart with chunks missing out of the soles.  The Altras also have a big “foot shaped” toes box that gives loads of room for your toes to spread out.  I had some blisters on the outside edges of my toes during the race but I think part of this is down to the velcro and Raidlight Desert Gaiter  which changes the shoe shape slightly and seems to pull the trainer up more, putting more tension on the toes.

For the evenings I also had a Uniqlo down jacket (Uniqlo down jacket) that was super light and cheap.  It gave the perfect amount of insulation for the evenings and extra warmth at night.

 

Kit List: Gear

I had an Outdoor Research sun runner hat (Outdoor Research hat).  This was a really great piece of kit that I wore non-stop. I wore the full thing with the Foreign Legion style sun sheet the whole time except for the early part of the last day when it was overcast and not too bright.  I would recommend this to everyone.  The sheet is detachable so can be adapted to your needs.

I also wore a pair of Julbo Bivouac glasses with the photo-chromatic and polarised chameleon lenses.  These were solid and I had no problems with them.

Going for full sun protection I also went for a sun protection Peregrino Buff which also came in handy as a hat when the sandstorm came in and it got chilly at night.

I used my Suunto Ambit3 Peak and HR monitor for the whole race using an ultra setting I created by reducing the GPS accuracy to the ‘OK’ setting.  This gave ample battery life to run the GPS during the races and as a regular watch until I got home.  I was a bit worried about wearing the chest HR monitor under the rest of the straps i’d need for the rucksack and front pouch but it worked fine.

A lot of people went for the MdS rucksack that we got at the expo with varying results – most not great. I went for the Classic OMM 25 Litre pack which I bought before I knew we were getting a free one.  This turned out to work really well.  It’s a simple construction with a large main compartment, zip pocket on the lid and mesh pockets on the side, the back and the top.  I could also fit the Raidlight front pouch to this rucksack fairly easily whereas this wouldn’t have been an option for the MdS pack.

The Raidlight front pouch made a big difference for me and allowed me to have food and water readily available.  I didn’t use any extra water bottles and just took the plastic 1.5L ones were given and carried them in the Raidlight neoprene tube on the top of the front pouch.  This saved a lot of faffing about at the checkpoints, however if you were going for calories you need to mix into your water bottles then this wouldn’t be a good option for you.

Kit List: Camping Gear

Firstly the sleeping bag. I wanted to go light on this front but there are usually some scare stories about it getting cold.  The Nordisk Oscar +10 really well with the Rab silk sleeping bag liner.  I used the fold out half length matt that comes as the back stiffener in the OMM pack to sleep on – not the most comfortable but it did the job.

For cooking I used the MSR Titanium kettle with the Esbit titanium stove.  These worked really well and I liked the larger capacity of the MSR kettle (0.85L).  The best piece of kit for cooking was the titanium wind shield I got from Amazon (I’m not sure who actually makes them).  This was amazingly light and made a huge difference in the efficiency of the fuel tablets.  It rustles a fair bit but otherwise is excellent.

In general for food I would recommend the expedition foods 250km desert race nutrition pack.  This takes the fuss out of preparing the food. I added a few more snacks and some extra recovery powder but that was about it.  I would probably add more shot bloc type stuff to this as a ran out of energy for the last day and could have done with more ready carbs rather than carrying pretty much useless macadamia nuts (thought the Kcal to gram ratio is great they don’t help you out in the middle of a race as you need ready sugars and not fat).

I decanted all the Exped. foods rations into zip-lock bags to save some extra weight – I’m not sure how much difference this made but it worked well and didn’t cause any problems.

As well as the gear I used during the race it’s worth mentioning the bags I used to get me and my kit list to the start line.  I’ve used kit bags from Montrose Rope and Sail Company for many years working offshore.  These are great, hardwearing and inexpensive kit bags that rival your North Face duffels.

montrose rope and sail company duffel bagmontrose rope and sail company duffel bag

All in all my clothing and gear worked well.  I had a sun-burn phobia which kept me covered up, in the future I wouldn’t go so far with the coverage and allow myself to come back with a bit of a tan.  Other than that I don’t think I would change very much.  The biggest winners  in the kit list were the Outdoor Research hat, Raidlight front pouch, Uniqlo down jacket and the titanium wind shield.

marathon des sables weeventure

 

 

mm

Callum is an engineering geologist with a love of the great outdoors and physical challenges in extreme environments.

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.

Return from Morocco // Initial reflections on the Marathon des Sables 2018

Return from Morocco // Initial reflections on the Marathon des Sables 2018

Thanks to everyone for all your support while I was away running the Marathon Des Sables. It was a great adventure and challenge. I was astounded to see so much interest and so many messages from people spanning my whole life from days in Germany to Harris Academy, St Andrews and now Oxford/London. The support was much appreciated and meant a lot when the printed notes were brought round to the tents in the evenings.

I met some great people while I was in Morocco both civilian, current and ex military (regular and reserves). In my tent alone we had backgrounds as varied as an ex-professional pianist turned entertainment lawyer, a Chinook pilot, two Royal Marine Reserves, an entrepreneur, structural engineer and wealth manager – What a mix!

The week had its ups and down and challenges, not only the fitness associated with the races themselves but also the general upkeep of you body to make sure you could get to the start line each morning. Most important was hydrating and refuelling after each race but also making sure you got enough rest and sleep in an environment that is often not very conducive to it!

I had a fantastic result for the week placing 58th overall. The race had its ups and downs with the hardest point for me being the last race day. I could feel that I had very little left in my legs as we set off across the dunes for the final marathon distance but despite eating everything I had to hand there was no powering up the legs again. It was a struggle for the last 25km into a powerful and persistent headwind that seemed determined to slow me to a walk. It was a relief to finish that day and know that the competition was over.

The two highest points of the week were day three, the Jebel day, and starting the long stage as one of the top 50 athletes. The Jebel day was incredible – running along the rock ridges with steep climbs and fast descents. The experience of starting the long stage among the top 50 was something special. I’d seen the documentaries of the MdS showing the top 50 “elite” athletes starting the long stage and it was amazing to me that I was there starting the long stage 3 hours behind the main pack ready to try and pass through the other runners on the way to the finish

The MdS was a great experience – a fantastic adventure. Very challenging at times but well worth the effort.

 

mm

Callum is an engineering geologist with a love of the great outdoors and physical challenges in extreme environments.

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.