As the race nears, I’ve had a lot of people on social media ask why I signed up for the Marathon des Sables in the first place. It is a fair question, why would someone who only five years ago couldn’t even run a kilometre let alone 250 of them across a bloody desert choose to run the toughest footrace on the planet?!
For the actual race itself, it is for the adventure of it all. To experience the raw and barren beauty of running through the desert. To test where my limits lie and where my strength and my mental fortitude can truly take me. To stand underneath a blanket of stars with a sea of sand beneath my feet and consider who I truly am and my place upon this planet. I want to feel the infinite of enduring in such a place. It sounds cheesy but those moments have kept me going.
One of strong motivators that has kept me going through the months of tough training is to prove those who coloured me with doubt that I shouldn’t and couldn’t compete in the toughest footrace on the planet.
I’ve had people my entire life cast doubt upon my aspirations, filling my head with you can’t, you won’t and you’ll fail. When I started this running adventure, back in 2015, people doubted I could finish a marathon. I remember quiet spoken words of discouragement in the lead up to my first marathon in London Marathon 2016, “I don’t think this is a good idea” and “Are you sure you want to do this? You’re not going to finish” being just a few examples. I can see why they believed I couldn’t; I was 20 stone, lacked motivation and had actively avoided pretty much every form of physical activity since I was a kid.
Now I’ve run 19 marathons around the world in just under four years. I’ve covered over thousands of miles and experienced thing I never thought possible. Those once held doubt-induced limitations far surpassed and in doing so I’ve turned their, and my own, doubts into my fuel.
Ultimately it’s the main reason why I try to run further and faster now; to push beyond my own self-believed limitations. There’s a quote by T.S Eliot that explains my motivation for signing up to MdS so perfectly:
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
This extreme ultra-marathon event could be too far for me, but imagine if I finish? If I can stand there, battered and bruised, medal in hand having gone from a 20 stone non-runner to Marathon des Sables finisher in four and a half short years those limitations will be once again be conquered.
Simply put, there is nothing extraordinary about me. Even now I currently weigh 15 and a 1/2 stone. I’m not built for running, not even close. I want to do the Marathon des Sables to show everyone who reads my story that you don’t have to be extraordinary to achieve something extraordinary.
But most of all I simply dream of the days far from now, when I am older and much greyer, sat slumped in a comfy armchair with a coffee in hand sharing the story of the time I ran across the Sahara Desert with whomever is there to listen.