Making my breakfast on the morning of the last competitive stage of Marathon des Sables I found a messaged I had written before I left home, which now felt like a lifetime ago: “Future James, if you have got this far I want you to know how proud I am of you!! Go get that fucking medal!!”.
After I said my goodbyes to Charly I made my way nervously to my tent. I knew, having checked up at each checkpoint during the stage, that Mark has finished and done so in an amazing time but it was still such a comfort to see Mark’s familiar smiling face as I came to our sandy homestead. But his was the only face in the tent.
As the final light of the day faded, we switched on our headtorches and made sure our glowsticks were attached. These glowsticks would act as guiding lights for the rest of the race. Not only were they attached to every competitor but also to every marker along the course. It became a simplistic yet torturous act of searching for the next neon green glowing beacon, lights guiding you down an endless tunnel.
When we left the tent that morning and made our way to the start line, we had no idea that by the end of the stage we would lose one of our tent mates and have another hanging on by an ever thinning thread. Our tent dynamic was about to fracture in traumatic ways that will stay with me forever.
Even before I left for the desert a lot of people were asking what kit I was taking. Since I’ve been back not a week goes by where I don’t get asked for advice on what kit to take for next year’s race. So I thought I would compile a list of all the kit and food I took and give them all little review so that if anyone is looking for kit for a multistage ultra they can see what worked for me.
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