|Trevor Binch getting ready for the MdS...|
With less than 250 days to go to the Marathon des Sables, you may well be in a state of denial right now. From my own experience, the last 100 days to go in a flash and that's where the panic sets in.
Right now, the Facebook sites and Forums are fairly quiet and although there are a few mumblings of training and meeting ups, there’s not much as yet about - ‘The Kit’.
This is where most of the blood, sweat and tears will be shed, in optimising what is and what isn’t the right kit to take and the best rucksack to use etc.
Funnily enough, I can’t remember many, if any DNFs from having the wrong rucksack choice - how much it weighs? Well that’s been a constant theme of my talks at The MdS Expo these past few years and one that folk have taken on board resulting in fewer and fewer folk packing the kitchen sink for a few days in the desert. For the record, you can get everything you need with enough calories for the week into a rucksack weighing 6.5kgs or less (after race registration). Believe me that every Kg you carry on 'Marathon Day' will add around 25 minutes to your normal Marathon time, (we did the research), if your feet are still in one piece by then.
‘So what', you say - I can do all of that next year if I have to, plus the uplift in training and how right you are...
What you can’t do is if you are a man well over 100kgs or a Lady well over 80kgs is lose the necessary weight to make your MDS a whole lot more manageable and enjoyable.
Over the last 15 years, the folk that have struggled the most are those that haven’t packed lightly, done the necessary training or are too heavy on race day hoping they can get by walking the whole race.
From my own experience, being 1.83m and weighing 85kgs the race is a whole lot harder than being a very lean 75kgs. The difference in race-time is hours and position is 500 v 150 as at 85kgs it’s difficult to run very much of the race, whereas at 75kgs with the right training, you can run virtually the whole 250kms.
This is where you can start making a huge difference to the race you right now.
Trevor Binch, from Coventry, is running the race next year. It’s been on his ‘bucket list’ for many years - only not at 130.5kgs as at that weight he stood no chance of finishing. I have seen heavier with Kobus from South Africa attempting the race twice - Once at 137kgs and the following year at a staggering 142kgs. Needless to say each time he managed a couple of days before melting out in the sun. To give him his due, he’s since dieted to an unrecognisable 80kgs and finished the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (a similar race to MdS in South Africa).
In only 200 days, Trevor shed an amazing 45kgs and is hoping to be weighing in the high 70kgs for the race itself. He’s already run a sub-4 Marathon and a respectable 22 minute parkrun so I’m sure he’ll do well in the sand, especially as he's now a lot leaner.
I know these are both pretty extreme cases but even if you have just a few Kgs to lose - my advice is to do it now and get it out of the way. It won’t naturally come off as you up your mileage as you’ll then think you need to feed the furnace more and in some cases I’ve seen, put weight on. This is a background kinda process that with 500kcals less a day going in, it mounts up to a 1lb loss every week, without really noticing the difference.
Of course the best attitude is to believe that you should be living the MDS Dream and in doing ‘The World’s Toughest Footrace’ you should live the life of an Elite Athlete. You don’t have to of course, but being realistic about your weight can make the MdS a whole lot quicker, more enjoyable and blister-freer from running and not walking.
BTW - If you are sweating in the heat of the UK, we classed 35c as a cold day in the race this year, so being leaner might be more of a hot topic than you'd thought. It's well worth a thought.
1,022 Marathons - 248 Ultras - 15 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records