MdS 2011 – Day 8, Stage 4 – Update from the Desert

MdS 2011 – Day 8, Stage 4 – Update from the Desert

I am totally blown away.

Not by the 82km I completed over the last 36 hours, but because I have just received another FIVE pages of messages from all the incredible people in my life :-)

Stunning but Harsh

I have cried, laughed and been flabbergasted at the emotion. I am touched and moved.

The guys in my tent are all so shocked at all my emails – they say I am THE ONLY one EVER to leave the MdS desert with a heavier backpack 😆 thank you everyone. I am relishing in your comments.

I have my out-of-this-world husband to thank. He is the rock and glue in my and our children’s lives and without his love and attention to my journey I just wouldn’t have any of this. How do I thank him enough? Let alone for all his tough and painful journeys trying to sort out blisters. Here I come, slotting straight into his solution and my blisters are beautiful compared to 100’s of others. My love you are my whole billions of galaxies and I love you and our JMLS more than you’ll ever know. Thank you.

I was sad not to have been able to stay with Ant but everything in my body was yelling for me to rest and what a rest it was!

Tough Night

I managed to run in the last 3 Checkpoints which makes me feel like I’ve partly done what I came to do.

The landscapes are stunning, but harsh and it is still 40 deg here.

Having said that, I think I have recovered well and I have washed my socks in preparation for tomorrow, as well as sorting out blisters and so about to have dinner.

There is excitement in the air.

It is the marathon day tomorrow, the classic 42.2 km distance which everyone wants to measure themselves against; then a mere 17.5 km as a final day sprint.

Best I sleep well tonight.. It’s not over yet 😉


Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Running


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MdS 2011 – Day 8, Stage 4 – Update

She’s done it.
She’s finished the long day.
82 km of some of the most rugged terrain on the planet.
She finished at 11:30am Moroccan time.

I will update you with more details later.


Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Running


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MdS 2011 – Day 8, Stage 4 – The Dawn Refuses To Break

MdS 2011 – Day 8, Stage 4 – The Dawn Refuses To Break

I only wish it would.

The sun is not quite up in Morocco, both physically and metaphorically as there appear to be some inconsistencies in the times displayed on the website; at least I hope this is the case.

The dark of the desert

Last night, Liz and Ant were traveling together and intended to stay together for the duration of the stage, which they had 32km to complete after reaching CP4.

Now, at 5:00am in the morning (Morocco time) Liz is still showing as having progressed no further than CP4 and Ant is showing at CP5 on the position timing page (POSY). This in itself is inconsistent, to my mind at least, as I strongly doubt that they would have split up overnight unless Liz had elected to change the strategy we had discussed and agreed all along, specifically to go all out and get the long day finished as soon as possible.

On the Live Race Tracker, Ant is shown as being about 2/3 of the way between CP5 and CP6 and if this is accurate, I would hope they would get to the final checkpoint before the finish in the next hour or so.

Best case scenario; they are still together and on their way to CP5, and I would expect, with the light of the coming dawn, they could do the final 10km in 2-3 hours.

Worst case scenario; Liz could not go any further after CP4 last night, elected to rest there and will have 33 km to complete on her own before 3pm today (4pm BST)

I pray it is the former.


Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Running


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MdS 2011 – Day 7, Stage 4 – Follow the Light

MdS 2011 – Day 7, Stage 4 – Follow the Light

Hot, humid and hilly

Liz and Ant, traveling together have just gone through CP4. The are still maintaining a steady pace through the checkpoints and so now have ‘only’ 32km (20 miles) left to go.

CP1 (12.2km) – 2:48:47
CP2 (25km) – 5:56:15
CP3 (38km) – 8:55:05
CP4 (49km) – 12:48:11

When I heard from her earlier, she seemed very upbeat and positive, but the rollercoaster that is ultrarunning is unpredictable and the highs and lows not only come thick and fast, but are also accentuated by exhaustion, starvation, dehydration and now, sleep deprivation.  I am cautiously optimistic for them though as consistency is paramount at this stage and if they maintain this pace they should be able to do 30km in about 7 hours, which would bring them in at about 20:00 hours, or about 5:00am tomorrow morning….as the sun is rising. I will be setting my alarm :-)

Their reward? A day of rest, which will be well deserved.


Posted by on April 6, 2011 in Running


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MdS 2011 – Day 7, Stage 4 – Two Down

MdS 2011 – Day 7, Stage 4 – Two Down

Just heard from Liz –

In the middle of the desert. God turned the oven on today. Fortunately every 500m He needs to turn it down for Himself so we have a fabulous cool breeze as well :-) Yesterday was a killer; So so tough. Kilometers of sand then rocky mountain 5pm b4 WMD (not sure what she means by this – RTP).

I was emotionally broken when I crossed that line, but I’m back today as I could feel myself recovering throughout the night.

We’re now half way through the 82km, and looking forward to night walking – Sunset and all.


Liz is going well at present, on the basis of her times to the Checkpoints, which are as follows: –

CP1 (12.2km) – 2:48:47
CP2 (25km) – 5:56:15

Checkpoint Laser - head for the light

She seems to be setting a steady pace at the moment as far as I can deduce from the limited information to hand, but if this is the case then it is a perfect strategy for managing the immense mental challenge which this stage engenders – the ‘baby steps’ strategy is obviously working.

As encouraging as this is, it pales into insignificance when you realise she is not alone. In addition to the mass of global support which has built up around her (for which I personally thank you all!), she is also running with Anthony O’Driscoll (892) her team mate and friend – the support and companionship they will provide each other through the long and dark hours of the rest of this stage is immeasurable.

The image shows what awaits them in the night, although the organisers have a cruel sense of humour, as they will start to follow the straight line etched across the Moroccan skies several hours before they finally reach it’s source.


Posted by on April 6, 2011 in Running


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MdS 2011 – Day 7, Stage 4 – Toeing the Start Line

MdS 2011 – Day 7, Stage 4 – Toeing the Start Line

Liz successfully crossed the ‘START’ line of stage 4 this morning, which after the monumental effort that she had to put in on stage 3 was by no means guaranteed. Any of you who are runners, or who know runners, will realise that actually lining up with your toe on the start line is half the battle – anything can happen in distance running and the MdS accentuates these issues on a daily basis.

For those of you that have perhaps have difficulty visualizing what Liz is currently going through, these are a couple of videos which the organisers have uploaded to YouTube – there is no commentary, little sound other than the ambient noise, but this is how it is, in it’s raw form – Stage 3.

MdS 26 - Stage 4a

06-07/04/2011 – STAGE N°4 :

Km 0 : Go S/W (course 225°) on slightly stony terrain.
Km 1,3 : Cross Rheris oued on course 225°. Rugged terrain, fech fech and tamarix.
Km 4,1 : End of oued. Sandy uphill rise between Ras Kemouna hills.
Km 5,4 : Turn left.
Km 5,8 : Turn right. Go West (course 261°). Variable stony, sandy terrain between low hills.
Km 9 : Sandy passage through small djebel. Go S/W (course 238°) until Km 11.
Km 11 : Rocky peak to the left. Go West (course 264°) until CP1.
Km 12,2 : CP1 close to lone tree. Go West (general course 269°) in middle of sandy valley becoming more stony after Km 16.
Km 17,8 : Small mounds to the right.
Km 19,6 : Sandy rise towards Zireg Djebel.

MdS 26 - Stage 4b

Km 20 : Rocky rise.
Km 20,1 : Follow crest line.
Km 21,9 : Sandy descent to the left.
Km 22,1 : Turn right at the bottom of descent. Go West (course 265°). Sandy slope.
Km 23 : High point of the sandy pass Djebel Zireg. Go W/SW (course 256°) until CP2.
Km 25 : CP2 in the valley. Go West (course 260°) until CP3. Successive oued beds with vegetation and slightly stony terrain.
Km 30,1 : Lone tree. Well. Hills to the left.
Km 31,4 : Military post to the right. Less sandy, then small pebbles.
Km 35,1 : Taourirt Mouchanne Djebel to the right. Stony terrain.
Km 38 : CP3 South of Mouchanne. Sandy rise and passage. Go North (course 352°).
Km 39 : Bottom of North slope of Mouchanne. Go North (course 352°) until CP4. Stony.
Km 39,6 : Cross a track. Flat terrain. Few stones.
Km 40,1 : Mounds of sand and camel grass.
Km 42,8 : Scattered small dunes and earth.
Km 44,5 : Earth with vegetation and calotropis.
CAUTION! Follow markings carefully to avoid crevasses in the oued.
Km 47,9 : Cross a track.

MdS 26 - Stage 4c

Km 49 : CP4 on the dried-up lake of Ma’der el Kebir. Go North (course 355°) until CP5.
Km 56,1 : Lake ends. Dunes begin.
Km 60,2 : End of dunes. Earth.
Km 61 : CP5. Go West (course 263°) to cross a line of closely planted trees.
Km 61,6 : Go through trees. Continue West (course 267°). Cross oued then plateau of small stones by the ruins.
Km 66,5 : Stony terrain.
Km 68,8 : Sandy pass of Joufert djebel.
Km 70 : Exit pass. Go S/W (course 234°) until CP6.
Km 72 : CP6 in the valley. Go S/W (course 219°) until bivouac.
Km 74 : Sandy crossing Aatchana oued for 800 metres, variably stony up to finish line.
Km 82 : B5 finish line.


Posted by on April 6, 2011 in Running


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MdS 2011 – Day 6, Stage 3 – Update from the Desert

MdS 2011 – Day 6, Stage 3 – Update from the Desert

It has been so hard today and I am worried

Savage Hills

I have had to take baby steps all the way today. Concentrating solely on the 10 meters ahead of me, putting one foot in front of the other.

A savage day, with exquisite landscapes to lift my spirits, but sometimes it is not enough.

On the long day tomorrow, I will need to find great inner strength.

The update from Liz was brief as the email ‘tent’ was closing only 30 minutes after she arrived, but more importantly, she is unsurprisingly exhausted, however I subsequently received this from Greg Collett (891) her team mate and tent colleague.

Liz came in about 45 minutes ago looking very tired but otherwise in good shape, at least as far as blisters go. she is rather exhausted after today, which has been very tough.

We have our best motivators and chefs working on the case. I am of course hopeful that with careful management she will make it to the end of the long day – she will not send an email as the shop shuts in 30 minutes but she sends her love to you all. Emails have been coming through and have been most welcome.


Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Running


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MdS 2011 – Day 6, Stage 3 – Update

MdS 2011 – Day 6, Stage 3 – Update

Another one in the bag! Woo-Hoo!

She is doing incredibly, but it looks like this was a tough one though, with it turning into a 10 hour day for her to complete the 38km of hills and more dunes.

The hills are magnificent....from a distance.

She finally finished about an hour ago in a recorded time of 9:56:05 but her position has unfortunately dropped a bit, undoubtedly due to the nature of the stage; or at least I hope that is all – the danger of injury is ever present on this event and the last thing she needs now is for an old war wound to manifest itself in the middle of a oued or at the top of an erg.

In a way the 3rd stage is the worst because the competitors are not yet halfway, and the mental focus is always the long day which is still to come and so any doubt or lack of motivation is magnified many times during the dark hours of the 3rd stage.

Nevertheless, she has pretty much broken the back of it and by this time tomorrow, it should all be downhill.

I will update you with the detail as soon as I receive it.

Watch this space.


Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Running


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MdS 2011 – Day 6, Stage 3 – At the Start line

MdS 2011 – Day 6, Stage 3 – At the Start line

No update overnight I’m afraid – coverage is very poor. I know that Liz appreciates all your messages though and (from personal experience) I also know that they will be an immense source of strength for her during the next couple of stages.

Stage 3 is another 38km but has a couple of prominent ‘hills’ to negotiate (in MdS parlance this undoubtedly means clambering on hands and knees with no resemblance to running whatsoever; crampons and carabinas at the ready…)  followed by the inevitable dunes, although after the last couple of days it is worrying that the roadbook describes them as ‘large’ 😉

Tomorrow is the ‘long day’ which all the competitors dread – it is the mother of all mental challenges to complete the 82 km which I know she will try to do without stopping so we are likely to hear even less from her over the next day, after which she will ‘only’ have a marathon to complete on stage 5 and then a short 17.5 km sprint to the finish in Tazzarine.

(As I write this, Liz has been in and out of CP1 a couple of hours ago, so should be nearly at CP2, which is well over halfway, but the start of another dune leg of 6km)

MdS 26 - Stage 3a

05/04/2011 – ETAPE N°3 :

Km 0 : Go S/SW (course 195°).
Km 0,8 : Slightly uphill before plateau.
Km 1,4 : Cross oued with mounds of sand and camel grass.
Km 2,1 : Direction S/SO (cap 201°) jusqu’aux palmiers du Km 5,3.
Cross 2 low hills, then valley with small pebbles. Go S/SW (course 201°) until palm trees at Km 5.3.
Km 5,3 : Oued. Palm trees. Go up on to the plateau just by the well.
Go S/SW (course 214°) until bottom of pass to cross the village of Jdaid.
Km 6 : Start of uphill rise towards pass. Rocky then sandy at the summit.
Km 7,6 : Summit of the Jebel El Abeth sandy pass.
Go down S/W (course 231°) until Km 10.2. Sandy then increasingly rocky.
Km 9 : Follow the oued to avoid rocky terrain.
Km 10,2 : Exit oued going West (course 236°). Stony terrain.
Km 11,3 : Pass through a very small gorge. Cross stony terrain.
Km 12,5 : CP1. Go S/W (course 219°) until Thouil djebel. Succession of variably stony valleys.

MdS 26 - Stage 3b

Km 17,5 : Thouil djebel to the right. Go S/W (course 222°) until CP2.
Km 19,3 : Cross sandy oued.
Km 21 : Sandy terrain with small dunes.
Km 21,9 : Enter dunes. Follow course 222°.
Km 24,5 : CP2 as you exit the dunes.
Km 31 : CP3 after the dunes. Stony terrain then rocky up to summit of steep-sided gorge.
Km 32,2 : Summit of gorge of Foum Al Hopath djebel. Technical descent for 150 m then sandy descent.
Km 34,4 : Enter the erg. Follow course 272° up to finish.
Km 38 : B4 finish line after exiting dunes.


Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Running

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MdS 2011 – Day 5, Stage 2 – Update from the desert

MdS 2011 – Day 5, Stage 2 – Update from the desert

I was overwhelmed with emotion last night when I was handed four A4 sheets paper with FORTY messages on. Thank you everyone so much; you have no idea how much it means to me.

Savannah my precious I will build a sandcastle for you.

Morgan the tents are fabulous but rudimentary with wooden poles and black fabric over the top.

Luke, I’m running as fast as I can my precious one.

Joshua many photos for you gorgeous one and landscape stunning wonderful children, thank you.

Windswept competitors

The wind came up at 3am last night (Sunday) with plastic blowing everywhere and people chasing after it; there were cheers when 1/4 km away from the camp people finally caught up to them. I was 1 of them – almost as though laid by the Moroccan Wind spirits as a team building game :-)

The wind continued to howl all day, but thankfully at our backs.

The terrain on Stage 2 was unforgiving but stunning and we had sandstorms with cloud cover which mercifully shielded us from the sun. There were undulating river beds resembling a miniature grand canyon.

There were kilometers and kilometers of sand but like the beach and kilometers and kilometers of pebbles but like Guildford High Street. God made it easy today but it was as tough as I have never experienced before. Have to stay with baby steps like Morgan and I did walking to school everyday up Pewley Hill 😉

More soon….


Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Running


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