Hot to Trot…

Hello Hello! You start a blog and you think that you will have time to write, because you like to write and you want to keep in touch and suddenly (well actually is it not that sudden!), you realize that running a software firm and blogging can perhaps not coexist. But I am not the only one in this predicament: one of my favourite blogger Joe Kraus over at Bnoopy has the same predicament. I wish he could post more, his “persistence pays post” made my day in fall last year! Thanks Joe, keep up the blogging, please!

Now in the coming weeks I will have even less time to blog since I will be participating in the great MDS adventure. The MDS is the Marathon des Sables and this year is the 20th anniversary of this foot race. The MDS is one of the world most difficult foot race. Difficult to dispute when you know that it includes:

  • 240 kilometers in 6 stages over 7 days including a full marathon day and a non-stop stage when we will have to cover over 80 kilometers in a combination of flat terrain and dunes in less than 40 hours
  • Temperatures daily reaching 40C (and more)
  • Freezing in the evening
  • Carrying your own food (for the entire duration of the race) and gear
  • Getting water only twice a day, and carrying your water in addition to your pack
  • Sleeping in open Berber tents, these luckily are provided and we will not have to cart them around
  • Terrain that goes from awful to unbearable in a matter of hours

Why did I sign up for the race? I get this question everyday now that we are weeks away from hearing “trois, deux, un!” and the honest answer is: I, like the other 800 participants, love a challenge. I must clearly be mad. I first heard about the race in 2004 when reading a very old Outside article: Where Have All the Wise Men Gone? and thinking if the Marathon des Sables does not defeat you, nothing will. At the time I had just returned from Ecuador – this will need to be another entry – and the time spent away from everything, in the middle of nowhere was incredible. And the desire to participate in the MDS started to grow until it became a bit of a preoccupation. Now I am no stranger to Morocco, but running in the desert, that’s a different story. I think that I am mostly looking forward to a personal challenge, the ability to rely on myself entirely during less than optimal conditions and basically just seeing if I can get close to the finish line this time around. The more I think about it, the more I fear the longest race day which is day 4: a whooping 80 kilometers after having competed for 3 days and completed over 100 kilometers. But as a couple of colleagues in the office are quietly saying may be I should first and simply focus on completing day one! My training has gone so poorly this year mostly because of lack of time that I can see why they would be worried about me getting past day 1!

This year there are 800 participants, 200 more than last year since this is the 20th anniversary of the race. I am sure that the organizers are also going to make the course a memorable one! Perhaps add more dunes?

These past few days I have been horribly occupied with my gear. Participants’ bags – which by the way are carried for the duration of the race through everything – can weight up to 15 kilograms. There is no way I will survive even 20 minutes carrying a pack that heavy. So I am buying gear and trimming weight any possible way. Of course my first thought was how to reduce the amount of food I pack in my bag. But the organizers know this and there is a calorie intake requirement – they probably do not want to be in the business of rescuing via helicopter light headed idiots as myself who cut down the amount of food packed. There is a technical check up day where gear, food, survival kit and compulsory items get checked and approved and there is no getting anything past the MDS crew. Research is my midnight action item right now: what packs calories, carbs, protein and is suitable for a vegetarian and does not weight 500 tons? If you have any answers, email me (lboujnane {at} ideeinc dot com).

Since once can’t carry much without a bag: first order was to get one: I settled on a small bag for the race: a Speedemon from Ultimate. Bright red. 37 L capacity. 

Stay tuned for more fun!

Comments are closed.