Andrew’s ETX Challenge Update: Preparing for the Marathon des Sables

Posted on Jan 29, 2015 in Blog

Hi there,


Firstly I want to say a very big thank you to all those who have sponsored me so far, it’s going to a great cause.

Now that we’ve hit 2015 and the race is drawing ever nearer I just wanted to check in and let you all know how things are going.

Well, firstly my knees are still just about holding out (although there’s still 10 weeks to go, so fingers crossed). At the moment I’m currently running about 60k a week, as well as doing another of 4-6 hours of cycling or cross trainer specifically to take some of the pressure off the knee joints.

Last weekend was a real wake-up call for me – I ran 20k on both Saturday and Sunday, but I did it with an 8kg pack on my back, which really helped me to re-evaluate which carry items are ‘luxuries’ and which are necessities. The real emphasis has to be on food (since we’re meant to carry all of our victuals for the period) and comfort at night (sleep can make a real difference to the next day’s performance). So, I’ll be carrying a minimum of 2,500 calories for each day, a sleeping bag and mat as well as a blow-up pillow (the mat and pillow may sound like luxuries, but imagine running a marathon in heat and over sand-dunes while carrying a heavy pack and also having to cope with a bad back and neck – not something I really want to risk).

I’ll also have the following;

  • A stove and cooking pot
  • Medical and compulsory survival kits
  • Extra clothes for the evening (seasoned MdS runners may be used to it, but the temperature plummets at night)
  • A head torch for the double marathon which takes place over a day and a night
  • Sunglasses with a sandstorm gasket
  • A fair amount of tape for taping up knees and feet (an absolute must for MdS runners)
  • The 2 litres of water that we receive at each checkpoint

Bear in mind that the all the above materials have to fit into my 20 litre pack.

My wife Caroline has suggested that next week I go on a diet to shed a few pounds – she’s probably not wrong! After all, 95 kilos plus my 10kg pack at 50 degrees centigrade for 6 marathons is a lot to expect of my body. However, I’m happy to say that I’m off to Val d’Isere for a weekend skiing with the boys, so that’s next week’s problem!

Thanks again for your support,



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