Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Breathe - Pink Floyd

'Talking the MdS Talk'
Lyrics:- 'Long you live and high you fly and smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry. And all you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be' - Gilmour, Waters & Wright

Song Choice:- I needed something monumentally megalithic for this Pre-Marathon des Sables Blog that encapsulates my mood. The 32nd Edition of The World's Toughest Footrace begins at 9am on Sunday 9th April, with Yours Truly in the field. You see, somehow following a period of sheer personal hell, I've managed to get well enough to get back to the start-line of the race that has been the backbone of my personal, sporting and business life since 1999.

Pink Floyd's 1973 multi-platinum selling Album 'Dark Side of the Moon' provides such a megalith. I thought the title 'Breathe' was particularly apt - something I couldn't do very well at all at last year's race when the Guillain-Barre Syndrome was first taking hold and my lungs were already succumbing to the paralysis the syndrome inflicts. I was seriously ill shortly after the race last year - by May '16 the thought of going back to the desert felt light years away, let alone the 240,000 miles to the 'Dark Side of the Moon' Floyd sang about. At that time, there was no light at the end of my recovery tunnel, I can tell you.

So, 12 months on, why am I going back? Why is there a need for me to go and do a 14th MdS? Why am I torturing myself again when I've already proven how tough and resilient I am? Why jeopardise my regained health when it would be so easy to take a year's sabbatical, or even longer? And more-so why worry Jenny and after giving her such a terrible fright? 

If you really understand me, you might know why. They're great questions of course 
and ones I've considered many times over the past few months. If I'm honest, all I can say is that the MdS has been a great goal to focus upon, both mentally and physically, for my rehab. 

When you've been literally out-for-the-count (Rocky 2 style), having something big to concentrate on that's familiar to you and will stretch you well past your limits is a marvellous driver. It's helped me surpass the normal post-GBS goals of simply 'Breathing, Moving and Life Self-sufficiency'. You see I've never doubted my return to the desert once as that would, of course, have been contrary to my whole life-philosophy.

As the lyrics suggest, maybe all I want to do is to 'Touch and See' the 'Old Me' and the MdS is a way of exorcising and overwhelming that feeling. It's hard to rationalise my thoughts any further, let alone write how I feel about what's in store for me whilst covering 257km of the Western Sahara.

I've completed the race 13 times now. I've experienced it as a serious competitor (2009 finishing 143rd), as a completer (chaperoning Sir Ranulph in 2015 just keeping ahead of the camels) and everything in between. I hope all this experience is going to be a trump card which bolsters my body's shortcomings.

No Drapeau this Year...
Am I scared? Well I don't believe I am. I'm certainly not as worried as those around me, yet I understand their concern as it's impossible for them to gauge my real fitness -   I don't give much away. I've been asked to 'listen to my body this time', but I was listening last time and every time, all the time. In fact this has become one of the trademarks of my Coaching business, and a spoonful of my own philosophy has helped me no-end in getting this far.

It all sounds very dramatic and a bit 'life and death' doesn't it? It isn't and I'm not that daft to put myself in any adverse danger. I'm just looking for a 'Breathe Reprise'. A chance to take a 'Time-out' from 'Rehab' and some time off redefining the 'New me' and revel in 'good times past'. Being someone that's only ever looked forward, I've found revisiting previous life-chapters very therapeutic this past year and part of my reincarnation has been realigning some of that history.

Anyway, for this Phoenix it's time to go and 'Run Rabbit Run' as I believe my life's work isn't yet done. I hope I'll fly, it won't be at high altitude it'll be just enough to clear the ground and my only expectation is to get that 14th MdS Gong.

If you are interested, you can follow my progress on Marathon des Sables LIVE and my race number is #0714 - please use the website as messages of encouragement are most welcome when it's getting tough out there in the sand. 

A kind word from home goes a long way when you are out for the count and on your chin-strap.

Thinking about it, having GBS has been ten-times harder than the MdS and even to get to the start-line hasn't been easy, so what have I got to lose...

'Absolutley nothing!' - So I'm going to have a 'Relaxing Break' in the sand and recharge my 'Mental batteries' and 'Breathe'.

'Breathe in that Desert Air'...

Rory Coleman - 987 Marathons - 241 Ultras - 13 Marathon des Sables
9 Guinness World Records - 8,490 Days' Alcohol Free
1 Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.
Location: Caerdydd, Cymru


  1. Rory! We 1st met promoting "Stoptober" around Oct 2014. At that stage I thought I was reasonably fit. Having completed 2 Half Marathons last year I am attempting my 1st Marathon this Sunday 9th, in Brighton. Meeting you and hearing your story was absolutely imspiring and after your health setback last year I wish you every success on your race!

  2. Best of luck in the desert Rory. Fantastic effort getting to the starting line.