Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marathon Des Sables - What are they up to now?

Simon says: - Blimey, and I thought I'd been active. Check out this email update from one of my tent buddies at Marathon Des Sables. He did the race again in 2010 and check out his tattoo, it beats an Ironman M-dot tat any day!

Hi,

Good to hear from you again. Glad you are well. What are you up to? Are you still racing tri’s? How’re the kids?

The story of my life since we did the MdS in 2006 has been like this. I enjoyed the event so much that when I got back I was determined to try it again. I tried to get in the following years but it was not until 2010 that I could get a place. Being four years older, and consequently slower, I decided not to just fly there like before but to make more of a trip of it and cycle to the start. I met up with a couple of mates and we decided that we would make a tri of it and raise loads of money for charities. We intended to kayak to France from Jersey, cycle through France, Spain and Morocco to Ouarzazate and then do the MdS. We were supported on the cycle by my Land Rover which was equipped for the trip and carried all our clothes, energy foods and drinks, spares as well as giving us somewhere to sleep if we could not find an hotel for the night. In fact we managed to find accommodation every night without too much trouble.

We had three drivers, my eldest daughter from St Malo to Biaritz, my sister from there to Gibraltar and then a guy from Jersey to do the Morocco leg. It all went superbly well and we all had great fun. It was really cold to begin with as it was March but once we were half way through Spain we were in Tee shirts and having a great time. The three countries offered very different experiences and doing this gave me no comparison with 2006.

Unfortunately I developed a bad knee during training for this one and although I went for investigations before I went, I had to do it all with a bad knee as surgery before would not have left me time to train and then compete. I had an operation on the knee in October last year. I gave it six months after the MdS but it was not getting better so I arranged to go to the London knee clinic at the London Bridge Hospital and had it sorted. It was only keyhole surgery and I was out and about the following day and back in Jersey the day after that. It still is not totally right and I have not played squash or ru n since. I miss that but I always said that if my body, or any part of it started to pack up, I would stop whatever it was causing the trouble. Well that is starting to happen and so I will stick to my word.

As the cycling didn’t do my knee any harm, I am now planning to do another bike ride with a friend of mine who I have run with for about twenty years. He is a teacher and is retiring in September this year. He wants to mark his retirement with something memorable and so we have come up with doing a ‘circle of the Mediterranean.’ Starting from Jersey and going through France to Italy, doing the whole length of Italy including Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily. We then plan to cross to Africa and travel along the north coast, (this will depend on the political situation at the time as to which countries we can go to). Once in Morocco we plan to go down the east side through Fez, over the Atlas mountains and then across to Marrakesh and up the coast, returning through Spain and France again. This will be in the Spring of 2012. The trip in 2012 will be unsupported as we plan to be away for about ten to twelve weeks or more. This means that everything we need, will be on our bikes including tents, sleeping bags, tools, spares, clothes etc. That’s a long way in the future at the moment but keeps me thinking and planning.

Apart from that, I am off to Nepal for three weeks on 9th April this year on a JOAC (Jersey Overseas Aid Commission) project to build two classrooms on to an existing school. This type of work is right up my street and I am looking forwards very much to going now. We have done loads of fund raising for the trip and have now got just over £25,000. There will be twelve going, some because they are teachers and want to build links between the students there and those here. Some because they are involved in local charities and have got us a lot of the funds, and then some because of their building skills. We fly there and back to maximize the amount of time we can work.

So, apart from that, I am working hard with what little work there is around in the recession. I only want to do about thirty weeks a year and take the rest of the time off to do my travels and this sometimes makes continuity of work difficult. I will not do the MdS again. Although it was great to have done the toughest and now the longest, (250 km.) the feeling of achievement on the finish line was not the same as the first time. I learnt a lot from the second as well as the first and would do things differently again if I did do it another time. If my knee was better I might, but I don’t want to get to the state of needing a knee replacement and I know several people who have had that done.

Let me know what you are up to. Are you still into triathlons, running, swimming and biking. There is another guy from Jersey who has got into the MdS in 2012, so the waiting list must be a bit smaller now. Probably because they keep hiking the price up as it is so popular.

All the best for now.

Mark

2 comments:

Bryan Payne said...

How do you feel about him promoting the race like an Ironman by tattooing is body, is he selling out too?

B

Simon said...

Of course it's selling out too but at least it's more original and less common than M-dot tats. I don't like tottoos anyway, nor do I like WTC and MDS are French!!! Need I say anymore. hahaha