Guild member, Georgie Peters (2000-2005, Sidney Lodge), is running in the Marathon des Sables, from 7th-17th April 2017 (http://www.marathondessables.com/en/). She gives some details below about the race and her training:
Referred to by some as the 'Toughest Footrace on Earth', the MDS is a 250km ultra-marathon in the Sahara Desert. Run over 6 days, in 40 degree heat, I'll also be carrying all the kit and food I'll need for the week!
I'm running to raise money for two charities that help fight against diseases which have had a personal impact on my life - Alzheimer's Research (http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org) and Bloodwise (https://bloodwise.org.uk).
My fundraising page is http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/georgiepeters
I decided to sign up for the Marathon des Sables 2017 in December 2015, as I felt that with my PhD studies drawing to a close, it was a good time to take on a physical challenge to coincide with the mental one I was still undertaking! My PhD research in archaeology involved running between hill fort sites in Britain as an experimental way of understanding past movement and mobility, so my research actually doubled up as some training runs for me! I'm still not sure whether me being a runner created my PhD thesis, or if the thesis made me into a runner!
My training basically involved learning how to run slower, longer, and with a backpack on. I recently did a half marathon in Cambridge with my race pack on, and I've also been run-commuting places, and cycling to visit friends etc. Generally, whenever I've needed to travel somewhere less than 10 miles away, I've run or cycled there. Now the race is close, I'm doing shorter distances - some speed work to keep myself fit and ready, but without taxing my body too much, and also some hot yoga as heat acclimatisation.
In the race itself, apart from hoping to finish, I'm hoping to come in the top 2/3rd - so under around 650 out of 1,000 runners total. I plan on run/walking throughout, rather than doing either exclusively, but the real challenge will be the uneven surface of the sand, and the heat of the desert. My biggest fear would be sustaining an injury during the race, but hopefully the training I've done up to this point will have strengthened my body to prevent that eventuality, fingers crossed!
The race starts a few days after my 30th birthday, so it's a bucket list item, and a birthday present to myself - I'm looking forward to a double celebration once I get back!