Our two runners from Brunei Darussalam, Ahmad Fathi Dato Junaidi and Hamsul Sulaiman have just completed the toughest marathon in the world, officially called Marathon des Sables 2013 running across the Sahara Desert in Morocco. I can only say, CONGRATULATIONS AND WELL DONE! Not that many people are willing to run 156 miles in the searing Saharan Desert carrying your own food rations and other requirements with you. WELL DONE again.
They were sponsored by Bank Islam Brunei Drussalam (BIBD) in this news report:- "WITH the full support of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad (BIBD), Brunei's first ever Marathon Des Sables (MDS) runners, Hamsul Sulaiman and Ahmad Fathi Junaidi, left yesterday for their attempt to conquer the MDS, held in the Sahara Desert. The MDS, touted as the toughest footrace on Earth, held over seven days and six stages where the participants in the Marathon des Sables will have to survive across 155 miles (250km) equivalent to running 5.5 marathons. They have to carrying all their essential equipment such as gear, food, obey a laundry list of safety rules; sleep in communal tents and so on, as only water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint."
The Marathon des Sables (MdS) is an epic event which takes place every year in the Saharan desert of Morocco, and is arguably The Toughest Footrace On Earth. In 1984 Patrick Bauer – a French concert promoter - decided to put the world of rock ‘n roll behind him and set out for an epic walkabout. He chose the Algerian Sahara, one of the most brutal environments on earth, and he opted to walk 200 miles of it with all he would need on his back.
It was on this epic trek, under the relentless Saharan sun that his idea of creating the world’s toughest footrace came to him. Two years later in 1986 having obtained the funding he needed, he successfully organised the 1st ‘Marathon of the Sands’ which was run in Southern Morocco.
April 2013 sees the 28th MdS with around 1000 participants racing through some of the most vicious terrain on the planet; running, walking and sometimes even crawling through rocks and sand, over salt plains, stoney Hamada desert and sand dunes of up to 150m high, and experiencing sand storms and temperatures sometimes exceeding 50 degrees Celsius; definitely not for the faint hearted!
The MdS takes place over 6 days and covers 150 – 156 miles (254km) – the equivalent of 5.5 regular Marathons! It is run in 6 stages, the longest stage being around 80 plus kilometres when many of the competitors will run through the night to complete it.
Entrants are self-sufficient, carrying all of their provisions for the full 6 days on their backs; sleeping bag, first aid kit including an anti-venom pump for snake bites, food, cooking stove and clothes. Rationed water is provided throughout the race at check-points along each stage, and again at the camp at the end of each day, with each participant having the same daily allowance which they must manage carefully and efficiently.
At the end of each stage a camp is set up for the competitors, with traditional Moroccan bivouacs sleeping 8 people. Here the competitors will cook their own dinner, visit the medics to have their blisters lanced and dressed, show amazing humour considering the exhaustion and pain they are suffering, and forge solid friendships for life.
The following list will help give you an idea of just how big an event this truly is and how much organisation is involved:
120,000 liters of mineral water
400 support staff
100 volunteers for the course
100 4×4 vehicles
270 saharan and Berber tents
2 “Ecureuil” helicopters and 1 “Cessna” plane
6 MDS specific commercial planes
4 quads bikes
3 mountain bikes
1 incinerator lorry for burning waste
52 strong medical team
6,5 kms of Elastoplast , 2,700 compeed blister plasters, 19,000 compresses
6,000 painkillers and 150 litres of disinfectant
6 satellite telephones, 15 computers, fax and internet
1 editing bus, 5 cameras and 1 satellite image station
Besides the obvious self-rewards for competing and finishing this mammoth event, hundreds of thousand’s of £ are also raised each year by the competitors for various charities around the globe, helping to make all of their training, hard work, immense effort and pain all the more worth while.
The two will be home this 18th April 2013. Come show your support at the Airport.