On the 6th April 2018, the Marathon Des Sables will start in Morocco where competitors will take on the 250km route over 6 days in searing temperatures.
We caught up with Hampshire based Oliver Lodge, to find out just what drives someone to take on the challenge and find out how he's feeling in the build up!
First question - why the Marathon Des Sables?
My pal I’m doing it with is my old housemate from Uni, 20 years on after a few beers at a 40th birthday party, we decided to take on the challenge. He’s been all over as an Apache pilot in the army, so we don’t get to hang out much, I guess we could have just gone to Portugal to play golf! This was all agreed in August 2016.
How has training gone so far?
Training has been Ok, no different to anyone else trying to fit it in around family, work etc... Queen Elizabeth Country park and Hankley Common have been two places I’ve spent quite a lot of time. Those two locations have a good mix of hills, trails and a bit of sand. I’ve had one session in the heat chamber at Chichester Uni and will have 10 more sessions in the coming weeks.
What are you expecting from the race?
I’m not sure what I’m expecting and I’m going to keep my mind as open as I can, but I’m definitely looking forward to meeting lots of wierd and wonderful people and hopefully enjoy (well some of the time) a once in a lifetime experience with an old mate.
What are you taking with you?
The event is completely self sufficient, so kit ‘chat’ can get pretty boring and technical. Basically I’ll be carrying a pack which will weigh around 8 kilos, containing food, sleeping bag and all the mandatory kit that you have to take - head torch, safety pins, anti venom pump. The trick is to try and get the balance between carrying enough food, but not too much weight.
What's going be the toughest part?
I think undoubtedly the toughest thing will be adapting to the conditions of the Sahara, temperature, wind, sand....
How long do you expect it to take you?
I’ve definitely tried to avoid talking about times for the race, as the goal is to complete it in one piece. Last year the drop out rate wasn't too bad, but the year before was the worst in the MDS’s history (so I’m told). I think so much depends on the conditions, there can be a huge variance in temperature and if it gets into the 50’s, I suspect it becomes more about survival than times.
Everyone says you’re too tired to celebrate but if we get round, there’s no doubt I’ll find the energy, there is a party in Morocco and I’m sure that running might get replaced with the pub in May.......and June.
My biggest motivation are my two girls and raising as much money as I can for CLAPA. Harriet my youngest, now 8, was born with a cleft lip and palate, and has had a number of operations, the last of which will be towards the end of this year.
It's safe to say we wish Oliver all the best on this epic challenge and we'll be monitoring the event closely to see how all of the competitors get on.