Antarctic Ice 101, Guy Guthridge

They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

Frenchman Patrick Bauer walked 350 km alone in the desert, and then founded Marathon Des Sables (MDS) - the world famous ultramarathon. Now thousands of athletes run across the Sahara every year. We asked the organizer MDS why he took people through the desert.

Marathon Des Sables is a six-day ultramarathon (about 250 km) that has been running in the Sahara Desert since 1986 of the year. It is considered one of the most difficult running distances in the world. About 1200 people take part in it annually.
Patrick Bauer is the founder of the marathon. The idea of ​​the marathon came to him after he walked about 350 km across the Sahara alone.

A person needs little: eat, sleep and move forward

- I see you unusual tattoo, tell us about it?

- I got this tattoo in honor of my trip across the Sahara. I made it after the 30th marathon to capture the beginning of this long story.

They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

Photo: Valeria Barinova, Championship

- How did you come up with this idea - to go on foot across the Sahara?

- I lived in Africa for two years and passed the Sahara several times by car. These trips were magical! I have discovered an environment that is both hostile and charming. I wanted to go back there on foot and alone. I was at a turning point, quit my job as a photographer and tried to give life a new meaning. It was a personal challenge - to feel like a shipwreck survivor.

- What was the most difficult during the trip?

- The most difficult thing was to carry a backpack weighing 35 kg. On the first day, I was a little desperate, because I only covered 17 km, and did not know how long I would have to go and if I calculated the reserves correctly, but I did it. By the end of the path, you understand that a person needs very little: eat, sleep and move forward. Comfort and everything else is just an addition.

- What did you experience when you got there?

- I covered 350 km in 12 days, but it was not not only a geographical but also a mental journey. The experience of covering the distance has become more important than the finish itself. It changed my philosophy and my life, although I did not think so then.

They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

Patrick Bauer in Moscow

Photo: Valeria Barinova, Championship

- How did the idea of ​​the marathon come from this?

- When he returned to France, I began to talk about my trip and realized that many people dream of such an adventure, but would not dare alone. I guess I looked like a madman when I started organizing the marathon. Some journalists wrote that the sun of the Sahara melted my brains. I am not offended by their doubts, because the project was so avant-garde and new that I was ready for it.

- Have you run Marathon Des Sables yourself?

- The status of the race organizer is not compatible with the status of the participant. The only pleasure I allowed myself was 35-ka kilometer long dune stage at the 10th anniversary marathon. I remember then they were very scared for me, because they lost sight of me and, as luck would have it, the batteries ran out in my radio.

I am a security paranoid

- What advice would you give to someone who wants to take part in the start?

- First you need to decide on the goal: to run or to pass. Based on the goal, you should build your training schedule. For the last couple of months, you need to train with a backpack weighing 6-7 kg. It is better if this is the backpack with which you will run. It is important to have shoes one size larger because your feet are swollen, but wear too large a pair. And take with you food that you enjoy so as not to undermine your morale.

They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

Photo: Cimbaly MDS 2018 / JOSUEFPHOTO

- What is the most difficult thing on the course?

- For most, the main difficulty is the heat, but you quickly get used to it. Another problem is injury. Equipment and preparation are important here. Not to mention the advice we repeat every day during the race: protect your head, use sunscreen, take the saline tablets we give out to the competitors.

- How many runners got through the marathon in 34 starts?

- We expect that together with the 35th race we will reach about 30 thousand participants. Every year we run about 1200 people, but our goal is not to increase the number of participants, but to maintain a high level of organization of the event. We have a very small percentage of retirements - about 5%. Girls, by the way, are less likely to leave the race.

—Marathon Des Sables is dangerous ?

- I think that the marathon is not dangerous because I know how carefully it is organized. I am a security paranoid and I try to expect the worst because the best will never surprise us. At each race, we have about 60 doctors on duty, two helicopters for evacuation, each participant has satellite radio beacons, signal flares, and whistles. I am not afraid for the participants, because we are always with them. I am sure that the success of the marathon is also related to the level of safety that we create.

- Why do participants go to the marathon?

- We don't have much opportunities to be in a hostile environment. It promotes the development of goodwill towards others, exposes the soul and allows you to look at the world from a different angle. During the race there is no difference between a director of a large company and a taxi driver - you are together.

They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

During the day in the Sahara, about +50 degrees Celsius

Photo: Cimbaly MDS 2018

- Remember the most unusual member of all time?

- Duncan Slater ran our race with prosthetic legs instead of both legs and is about to return. The Corsican Claude, who has run nine times, last ran at the age of 84. Their participation is a wonderful life lesson thats make us all more humble and humble. With the help of the media, they can become a good example and help others by overcoming themselves.
There were also fun-run participants who ran in Superman, cow, rabbit, pumpkin or rhino-head costumes weighing more than 12 kg. Someone was running with their backs.

Russians have not been treated to vodka yet

- What can you say about the participants from Russia?

- Russian the participants are very friendly and funny. I don't know if they carry vodka with them, they haven't treated me yet. (Just kidding!) Russia is remembered for its representatives and their excellent results. Alexey Kononov in 1993 became the first Russian at Marathon Des Sables and immediately came second. Andrey Derksen won the race for three years in a row: in 1994, 1995 and 1996. I cannot but mention Natalya Sedykh , who won the 2016 women's race. In 2018, she took 4th place in the overall standings due to a penalty for not having a whistle in her equipment. Yes, we have strict rules!

They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

Natalia Sedykh at MDS 2018

Photo: Cimbaly-VCAMPAGNIE © MDS2018

- How many Russians participate in the marathon?

- Usually about 10 people, but 35 30 Russians have already confirmed their participation in the race and registration is not closed yet.

- They have been running a marathon in the desert for 34 years, maybe it's time to organize a marathon in extremely cold conditions, for example, in Siberia?

- I like the cold less, but I admit it's an interesting idea. Only it cannot be called Marathon in the Sands. Maybe Steppe Marathon, Tundra Marathon or Ice Marathon will do?

They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

Photo: Cimbaly MDS 2018 / JOSUEFPHOTO

The 35th Marathon Des Sables race will take place on April 3-13, 2020 in Morocco. A distance of about 250 km can be run or walked. Participation, according to the organizers, will cost about 5 thousand euros (fee, equipment, flight and accommodation).
Registration is open on the official website of the marathon.
They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

Test: can you complete the marathon?

Test yourself and find out if you are ready to master the distance of 42.2 km.

They wrote that the sun melted my brains: why run 250 km across the Sahara

Course for half marathon. How to prepare for the first race?

Training plan for preparing for the 21.1 km race.

Journey to the end of time

Previous Post How to choose running shoes? Plain sneakers won't work
Next Post Have a question: should I drink water while jogging?