Local Man To Run 'Toughest Race On The Planet'

Taking the Marathon des Sables 250k challenge for charity


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In a little over a month, one local Chiswick resident will be swapping the cold damp towpaths of the Thames for the rolling sand dunes of the Sahara. Simon Dannatt, 39, is competing in the Marathon des Sables, a 250km race across the desert, and in the process is raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The Marathon des Sables, or MdS, is often referred to as “the toughest footrace on the planet”, and involves running across the desert in temperatures that can reach 50 degrees Celsius. The course, which varies each year, is split into stages but always includes a dune day (a day of running up and down sand dunes), the long day (over 80km) and the marathon day (26.2 miles).

Marathon des Sables contestant Simon Dannatt

This year, race director Patrick Bauer, has promised “it will be the longest in kilometres since the race began” and that the route will be “highly diverse, with the traditional dune ranges, dried-out lakes and jebels to cross”.

When asked about the race Simon said;“For me the challenge of the MdS is to see what the body is capable of when pushed, there is obviously a huge physical challenge presented by the terrain and temperature, but there is also a mental challenge to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite the discomfort.”

“I’ve supported Great Ormond Street for many years, and the knowledge that I will be raising funds for such a worthwhile cause will hopefully help see me through the toughest times,” he added, “I hope that by completing the race I can help them continue the amazing work that they do which makes such a difference to so many children and their families.”

If the length and environment were not challenge enough, competitors also have to carry all their food and equipment for the week (water is provided at checkpoints along the route). “Competitors become very obsessive about the weight of every piece of equipment and item of food,” says Simon, “after all you need to carry it for six days, and if you can save a few grams on everything you take it adds up to quite a large saving overall.”

With a few more weeks to go, Simon will be continuing preparations by building up the miles. Closer to his departure he’ll be visiting the heat chamber at Kingston University’s sports science centre to help acclimatise to the temperature.

The Marathon des Sables starts on 10th April, and you can visit his page to make donations.


February 29, 2016

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