Friday 30 March 2012

The final countdown: Endurance Life marathon


The final box to tick in terms of training for the Marathon des Sables was to run a hard, hilly, hot marathon with the full 10kg bag. This ended up being the Endurance Life marathon held around Seven Sisters and Beachy Head (no I didn’t have any second thoughts…), in Eastbourne.

Bizarrely I wasn’t nervous at all which is quite unusual for me. I think this was because I knew it was a training run, and I was also very aware that this would be a walk in the park compared to the looming race ahead.

It also was a bit of a treat – I was getting out of London to a beautiful part of England, the sun was shining and I had plenty of food supplies on my back to keep me going :-)

The race started as it meant to go along. Hills. I tried running up them all but gave up.

Not really. I reckon if I was just doing this as my big race I would have given it my all. I very much doubt I could have run up all of them – around Seven Sisters was a killer – but my strategy for the race was to finish it feeling good and confident I could get up and do it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.

So I walked up the hills and shuffled the rest.

Most of the race was filled with very nice people. However my spirits were dampened a little by some dude doing the 10k who told me to “come on!” up a hill. It actually really bothered me. I started getting upset that I was really slow (all my other team mates finished at least half an hour ahead of me) and that I wouldn’t finish Marathon des Sables.

Stupidly I didn’t reason with myself that a) I was running a marathon and b) I was carrying 10kg c) it was hot, and that I had every right to be slow.

The other 99% of runners were wonderful, and why I like being part of this community. I chatted with a few runners along the way about what they were doing and their journey there. I had claps and shouts of encouragement from others, which really helped lift my spirits.
Overall I felt fine niggle and injury wise throughout the race. However I did feel a bit nauseous at various points. I’m not sure if this was down to the heat (gawd help me! Was only about 22 degrees I reckon) or my shiny, new prescription sunglasses. I had a couple of chafing marks around my left shoulder and left hip, and my shoulders were a bit sore. I also, worryingly, developed a blister after about 6 miles. I never get blisters! Argh! Why now?

So the lessons I learnt from this final preparation run for Marathon des Sables were this:-
1) Sort your bag out before you run. I hadn’t secured my side straps – hence the chafing. I ran with one side much lower than the other the entire race!
2) Check your water bottles don’t leak and you can access them easily. I’ve got Raidlight bottles and they were pretty useless – leaking sticky electrolyte drink everywhere.
3) Taping is key! Tape your feet before you race. Get used to taping. Don’t tape after the blister has developed.
4) Prepare a playlist of a different mix of songs. Running for hours and hours is a little boring at times. Music helps you through the dark bits, though 6 hours of trance music is not the best!
5) Packing your bag is a military operation. Know where everything is and pack in order of when you will need things. Keep vital equipment to hand.
6) Work out a hydration and food strategy. I’m going with 150ml of fluid every 15 minutes. That’s just under a large Raidlight bottle an hour. I’m also going to eat every hour or so – small, but regular.


  1. Kate,

    awesome race young Lady. Dont worry what other s say or do MdS is an event to complete not win and anyone who rushes it probably wont finish it. Take it steady to start to find the boundries, i think the water to take in will be dictaed by the amount you get between checkpoints and make use of as much as you can. Food is right little and often and you right walk up slopes jog/run flats and down hill.
    you will do well.
    Best wishes.
    Mark greenfield looking forward to 2013!!

  2. Hey Kate,

    You're a huge inspiration to me as I start at the very, very, very beginning of a journey I hope will take me to an ultra-marathon one day (although I doubt my medical team will ever allow me to even attempt the MDS!), so don't listen to the 1% of doubters.

    More to the point, remember that although the 1% of doubters my throw your stride, you're in the less-than-1% who are actually putting their body and mind where their mouth is and running the toughest race out there. How fast you finish matters not a jot.

    Wishing you all the luck in the world and Godspeed,


    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and all the best for your journey too. One step at a time....

  3. Love your blog....inspirational

    Good luck on the MDS. Would be great to bump into you at at ultra soon

    1. Thank you! I am merely a slow ultra runner! Just pleased I made it :)


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