Tag Archives: Ultrarunning
My patient, cool, calm and the ever-present extraordinary immense strength of my husband, Richard Thomas, quietly waiting alongside, until our four little ones he has tendered, cared for and loved so well, are all done with the words they simply have to express like little babbling brooks and the physical expression of love they simply have to shower all over me – what it is to have them in my arms again and what it is to finally be in his.
It is done.
I am home.
And I feel like a new person.
I find a rare and incredibly valuable form of self-respect when I complete goals I have set myself and the Marathon des Sables is probably the biggest yet – the biggest I have ever undertaken on my own. Saying that though, ‘on my own’ makes me feel it’s somewhat of a cheat because the ever present spirit of my God, husband, children and other family members and friends meant I was never alone, but I guess in the true physical sense, yes, on my own. Richard and myself deciding we’d like four children close together has without a doubt been the greatest goal I have ever been driven to achieve but I have done it with this great man I love and had constant strength, love, care, support and rock and glue from this out-of-this-world-definitely-from-another-planet husband to sustain me all along and so this is clearly a shared goal, one we have attained together, in the names of love and commitment. Our extraordinary and special four children will always stand out way above anything else I have ever done or will do but as this is a shared goal I cannot, and will not, compare it to anything I achieve ‘on my own’.
My Marathon des Sables is over and I feel good. I feel renewed and refreshed with a lovely dose of new and improved self-respect. 3 years since managing to obtain a place for 2011, 3 years of planning, changing training schedules, nursing injuries, mind sets, working on flexibility, upper body strength; like pushing Luke and Savannah in their pram (3 years ago, Luke was 3 and Savannah 2) uphill to school, core strength, upper arm weights, training with a backpack complete with rocks and full water bottles, revising final strategies due to our ever changing situation, and negotiating the obstacles and challenges that crop up and alter the course of our daily lives. The unbelievable mental and emotional turmoil of stark realisation, month by month since August 2010, on that fateful day at the 75 mile mark during the Leadville 100 Miler when Richard was forced to stop, that he was not going to be able to join me as we had planned for so long. Tears, frustration, sadness…do I defer… do I go on? What is best? What is best for both of us, for our children? The questions that plagued took months to answer and the support and patient responses and endless discussions my husband held with me will forever be fondly remembered. Such love. Such stamina to have to deal with this complex mind that finally decided to go and take that intimidating bull by the horns and fight it, despite all the different demons under the name of fear trying to stop me.
As it is well known, to conquer fear it must be confronted. To ensure a fulfilling, peaceful existence and life abundant in enthusiasm and happiness, doubt and fear can have no place in our hearts or mind, and so there I found myself in the desert, moving closer and closer to a starting line that demanded not only 156 miles of running in harsh, hostile and alien surroundings, albeit it all stunning, but one that was also intensely personal and condensed with varying doubts and fears, manifested mentally over the years, that needed crushing one by one.
As I said in a previous blog, after my marathon day, one can always push harder and train more etc. and in retrospect, now I am home, I do wish I had pushed harder finishing with a better time overall but when I sum up no medical assistance, no poles at all (I can’t help but think poles give one an added advantage – I ended up carrying them the whole way in the event I sustained an injury; they would have helped me at least finish), and everything we have been through since August last year, I must focus on the fact I completed the whole event, with a great marathon day.
As for realising only upon my return, my husband cut and pasted in the region of 200 messages to the MdS email engine to ensure I received all your Blog messages every day, and updated my Blog absolutely beautifully, and oh yes, LOOKED AFTER OUR 4 WONDERS AT THE SAME TIME, I am touched again and again. The gallery he has uploaded into my Blog is just another of his golden twists; no matter what he does, it turns to gold. So much done for me to fully enjoy this incredible experience. My love, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made this all possible, wonderfully possible and I am forever indebted to you.
The 2011 Marathon des Sables ‘Raining Camel’, signing out for the last time..
This is the day that everyone ‘enjoys’.
The long day is behind them and the distance is the classic 42.2 km yardstick for distance runners to challenge themselves.
Having completed the best part of 5 marathons over the last 6 days, it will be psychologically less imposing than it might otherwise have been, but there is still a significant physical exhaustion factor to take into account and injury is ever present, waiting on the sideline to be called on for any competitor who let’s down their guard.
Liz said that she woke up this morning with swollen feet, a sign of (mild) dehydration which she was a bit worried about, but it was certainly nothing to prevent her reaching the start line, and I’m sure once she gets going all will be fine.
For those who will be watching the webcam later (probably 3pm BST onwards) she is wearing a white ‘shesh’ (local moroccan) headgear, black top with white stripes down the side of the arms, black full length leggings with white, calf high, parachute silk gaiters and she’ll be showing off this combo in Paris, New York and Milan later in the month…
08/04/2011 – STAGE N°5 :
RICH MERZOUG / TAKKOURT N’TAKOUIT – 42,2 Km
Km 0 : Go W/NW (course 284°) until Km 8.9.
Km 2,2 : Ruins of old mines.
Km 5 : Sandy pass on small hill.
Km 8,1 : Small hill. Cross a valley.
Km 8,9 : Small hill, then abrupt rise.
Km 9,3 : Follow crest line to avoid faults located on the slope of Bou Lalhirh djebel.
Km 11,1 : Go back down into the valley.
Km 11,4 : Valley.
Km 12,3 : CP1. Follow markings to go up and down the djebel.
Km 12,9 : Djebel summit. Technical descent for 200 m.
Until CP2: go W/NW (general course 285°). Variable stony plateau.
Km 15,6 : End of plateau. Sandy oued bed, follow small dunes to the right.
Km 18 : Palm trees to the left in the oued. Same direction. Sand and stones.
Km 20,5 : At the end of stony passage, follow oued branch to go round crops and keep the hills to the left.
Km 22,3 : CP2 close to palm trees on left bank of oued. Follow sandy oued bed W/NW (general course 297°).
Km 23,1 : Ruins of Aït Kherdi to the right.
Km 23,9 : Go past palm grove and Ahandar ruins taking right bank of oued.
Km 26,2 : Hill peak to the left. Sandy. Go W/NW (course 294°) until Km 28.6.
Km 27,7 : Cross a track, (concrete bridge to the right), stay in oued.
Km 28,1 : Village of Aït Haddou to the left.
Km 28,6 : Palm grove and small dunes. Follow markings carefully.
Km 29,6 : After ruins on the left, palm grove ends at a well. Cross Khing oued.
Km 30,6 : Enter Khing palm grove. CAUTION! Imperatively follow markings to avoid crops.
Km 30,9 : CP3 in palm grove. Imperatively follow markings and run along sand defence barriers on the left.
General direction West (course 259°) until Km 39.8.
Km 32,6 : Two rocky peaks to the left. Slightly stony terrain.
Km 34 : Sandy peak to the left. Slightly stony.
Km 38 : Cross oued with vegetation for 700 m.
Km 39,8 : Hill peak to the left. Go W/SW (course 239°). Slightly stony.
Km 42,2 : B6 finish line.
Two days ago, after Stage 3 I was humbled.
My friends from the Rahal team, Mustapha (6) and Brahim (7), were in my tent when I arrived back after Stage 3 when I was an emotional wreck. They were incredible. Both reached for my backpack immediately and took everything from me. Helped me to lie down and TOOK OFF MY SHOES!! What does one say to such generosity of spirit and camaraderie?
Mustapha has just come to find me, now that I have finished the long day, and tells me he came 4 times to our tent through the night to check that I had come in. There are times words completely fail me and this is one such time; The big local Moroccan hero searching out the lowly Liz Pomeroy to find out if she is still alive!
Still, never before have I done 82km and I can say I am delighted with my first.
It was 45 °C midday yesterday, 13 hours before a proper refueling at CP4. I Tried going on but 3 km after I was just stumbling around kicking my already huge toenail which I will lose soon!
I slept under the stars between CP4 and CP5 and woke at 4:30 am. What a treat to watch the sun come up in the desert.
I Managed to run between CP5 and CP6, and then between CP6 to the end, and to say I was delighted would be a bit of an understatement after everything.
It was so tough though.
The Bivouacs came into sight long before there was any chance of sprinting to them – turning the final corner it may have been, but they still seemed to be half a race away for a long time.
I have never been so filthy (luckily we are all in the same boat) and all I can think about now is having four showers and then my love’s face along with our children Joshua, Morgan, Luke and Savannah at the airport. I think that moment will be the end of me. I will be in bits. Again!
Two more days then back to Ouarzazate.
How time flies.
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
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!
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 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
06-07/04/2011 – STAGE N°4 :
OUED RHERIS EST / RICH MERZOUG – 82 Km
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.
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.
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.