We’d like to take this opportunity to say congratulations to Adam! Adam’s challenge was a 156 mile ultramarathon across the Sahara Desert - equivalent to the distance of six regular marathons. The longest single stage is a whopping 91 km long!
We’re pleased to announce Adam has met and exceeded his fundraising goal of £8,000 with an incredible £8,940.07 raised for Hope for Children.
We caught up with Adam after his challenge to hear some more of his thoughts and feelings!
What was the hardest part of the challenge for you?
There’s a lot of apprehension prior to going, you don’t know what you're getting into. A lot of people have a lot to say about best methods, people that haven’t even taken part, you can read into it and put yourself off. As you get closer to the event you question yourself, ‘Have I got the right kit?’ and you worry, oh no, ‘I’ve got the wrong stuff!’.
It’s hot, it’s pretty hot! You get there on the Friday and take a bus, 8 hours later you’re in the Sahara, you’re going through towns that are getting smaller and smaller and eventually there’s no one. Most people are more nocturnal, because of the heat.
We camp on the first day, to get acclimatized, you’re killing time and it builds the anticipation. Once you get into it, 58 degrees, it’s hot! The first day I went at it too hard, too soon, I got exhausted, dizzy and I wasn’t expecting it. You wonder is it gonna be this hard every day? You go in blind, you have to do what suits you and ignore what people say.
The second day, was the toughest, it was just short of a marathon, the heat was 58 degrees, a lot of people dropped out.
Day three, I quite liked it, a lot of bigger people struggle, I’m pretty slender and the mountains break the desert up. It was class! Day 4, double marathon day. 30 hours, I slept for about 5 hours in the desert, this was the toughest. Once you’ve done that you know you need to keep going. The biggest worry is the unknown, it carries on throughout the week, It’s a constant unknown. A lot of people get very down, I saw people in tears.
The value in keeping positive gets you through so much. You have to break it down, if you view it as a full challenge you’ll never get through it. But it’s class!
Did you hit ‘the wall’ at any point or ever doubt you could finish? What kept you going at these low points?
Day one, I was in shock, I wasn’t used to it. I didn’t hit a wall really but I knew I needed to reign it in a bit. The longest day is 90km, there were 7 checkpoints, you can get water at checkpoints and there’s camps to get out the sun. You have to focus on the next part, the next checkpoint, the more you focus on that, before you know it you’re 60km through.
That long day you’re like, what am I doing! You need to refocus and knock that out of your mind. You have to think “in a few hours I’ll be at the next checkpoint”.
There was one guy that took part that was a double amputee and that was a inspiration to see him get through it. 1200 people took part, 900 or so made it through to the end. The biggest issue is mentally giving up, we were all in pain, all sore, but if you give up mentally you just can’t go on.
I didn’t ever think that I wasn’t gonna make it, I just had to tell myself to keep going.
What, if any, were the high points of the challenge for you?
When you break the long day, you’re on a big high and you know you can go on. The high point is getting to your tent, it’s a sociable environment and everyone feels the same. You’re totally away from the world. You tell yourself “Camps not far now” and “I’m good because I’m gonna see my new mates at camp.”
Every time you see camp or a checkpoint you get an adrenaline high. Sometimes it’s when you see someone else, it’s like you’re part of a commute. It does hit you sometimes that you’re in the middle of Sahara Desert, we got ambushed by camels at one point!
The smallest thing will give you a high. At the end of the long day, we got a can of coke and you won’t imagine how much of a high that gave me. The small things are the big things.
What advice would you give to other riders thinking of taking on the Marathon des Sables?
Get hours on your feet, physically my legs weren’t tired because of the training. Your feet get ruined, get hours of walking and running and your feet adapt. Ignore others and do what makes you feel comfortable and content.
Try your best to enjoy it, you need the determination to get to the end. It makes you value what you’ve got, it puts things into perspective. Put the effort in and you’ll get the reward.
Don’t take things for granted. I actually valued much more when I came back. It’s a lot of sacrifice but it’s worth it. Put the effort in before you go.
It’s seems like a crazy question to ask, but would you do it again or do you have any other plans for events like this in the future?
I’d definitely do it again! You would enjoy it more if you do it twice I think. If the opportunity arose I’d do it again.
I plan to race the transcontinental race from London to Istanbul that’s my next challenge. There’s not a route, you’re on your own but it’s a race. I’m gonna build a bike to do it on. It’s a bit different but it’s still an endurance race. I prefer to cycle than run, that’s the next plan for Summer 18. It’s 2500 miles or so.
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