"The Toughest Footrace on Earth"

250km (155 miles), 6 days, 50°C, 10kg pack


Nick completed the legendary MARATHON DES SABLES (MdS) in 2010, in support of the National Association for Colitis and Crohn's (NACC) in their 30th anniversary year.

The Marathon des Sables is often described as the toughest footrace on Earth. In 2010, the 25th anniversary year, it covered 250km (155 miles) run over 7 days - equivalent to five and a half regular marathons whilst carrying an 11kg pack over sand dunes, rocky desert, and stony ground. To start the race, Nick had to provide a medical certificate and resting ECG report!

Nick carried everything he needed for the duration of the race, apart from a tent, on his back in a rucksack (food, clothes, medical kit, sleeping bag, stove, fuel, etc). Water was rationed and handed out at each checkpoint; with approximately 10.5 – 12 litres per day, which he also had to carry (1 litre = 1 kg).

During the race mid-day temperatures were up to 40°C (120°F), running or walking on uneven rocky ground as well as 20% of the distance being on sand dunes. On the 4th day, Nick set off across the desert to complete a 52 mile stage. Few people finished this before dark that evening and some did not come in until after dark the next night. This was followed by a 42km (26.2 mile) Marathon stage!!

With the heat and distance, mental stamina probably constituted at least 50% of whether Nick would complete the race or not. Physical fitness is important but surviving mental stress is a key factor. The rules state that you will be disqualified if you require more than 2 intravenous drips! Luckily there was an insurance policy covering medical evacuation and corpse repatriation in the event of death!

Nick was kindly supported in this challenge by Simpson & Marwick Solicitors.

Very many thanks to all who contributed to Nick's entry fee:

Grant and Eleanor, Steve and Vic, Jan and Sandy, Yvonne, Pam, Wendy and Martin, Jane and Mike, Nick's Mum