The Marathon des Sables in Morocco is an ultra-marathon, it is not called the “toughest race on earth” for nothing, 156 miles to cover in a six-day race with only one rest day. Runners must carry everything they need for the week, except for water, on their back.
The UK & Ireland accounted for 25% of 500 entrants; some statistics from the race organisers include supplying 120,000 Litres of mineral water, 6.5km of Elastoplast, 2,700 Compeed plasters, 19,000 compresses, 6,000 painkillers and 150 litres of disinfectant. To complete 90 % of entrants combine alternate walking and running, the average maximum speed is 14km per hour and the minimum speed is 3km per hour, this year the youngest competitor was 16 years and the oldest was 78 years. Mind and body have to be trained to take the mental and physical stress, the exertion and stamina required are tremendous and the right footwear to cross the rocky, sandy, uneven terrain is essential.
Ra D’Arcy Clark, 29 years, equestrienne and working as an Africa Specialist for Original Travel in everyday life, faced the glaring heat, burning sands and storms of the Sahara to join the Team Hope of 10 outstanding runners to raise over £70,000 for Hope for Children, the international charity that believes every child has the right to a happy, healthy & positive childhood. Team hope comprised 8 men and 2 women of 4 different nationalities; of the 10 competitors on Team Hope, 9 completed the full distance of 251km, including the gruelling 4th day where runners must complete a double marathon, 55 miles across the largest desert in the world. The two young women Milly Archibald and Ra D’Arcy Clark both came in the top 100 women in 52nd and 81st respectively,
Ra was kept going by her Hoka Trail trainers and via the support she received from friends and family via emails and messages. She comments “Days 1 and 3 were EPIC – no jokes I absolutely loved them. The views were wonderful. We had to scale some awesome jebels and then once at the top we walked along the ridge taking in this never-ending scenery in all its entirety before pelting down the sand on the other side. Day 2 was horrific long flat and LOTS of dunes that make everything feel like 1 step forward 3 steps back. It was also the arrival of two socking great blisters under each big toenail which got progressively worse as they were popped, taped up and stuffed back into my hot sweaty trainers each day. Day 4 was the long day and at 86km took me 9 hours to complete.”
Day 5 was the rest day which everyone needed before the final day and the last agonising trek to the finish line and a medal.