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In April 2014, I will take part in an event called The Marathon Des Sables (MDS). The race is difficult to describe, so I will simply quote what one British site has posted.
The MdS is a multi-day ‘ultra-marathon’ or ‘ultra’ run in six days over a course of between 150 and 156 (254km) miles.
Which by the way is the equivalent of
Running from London to Dover
deciding not to go to France after all
and running back again
in 120 degree heat.
with a backpack on
and voices in your head talking about cold beer!
As an example of what lies beyond the starting line, the longest single stage in 2012 was 51 miles (81.5km). Typical distances are 156 miles (251 km) broken down as follows:
- Day 1 – 33.8 km
- Day 2 – 38.5 km
- Day 3 – 35 km
- Day 4 – 81.5 km
- Day 5 – 42.2 km
- Day 6 – 15.5 km
The actual routes and formats change every year. The Race Director and his team spend a month meticulously planning routes that are held secret until the day before the event starts.
There is a rest day after the longest stage, but it may well take you into that day before you get to the finish.
Competitors stay overnight in a bivouac village, comprised of tents that sleep about 8 competitors per tent. Once you get your ‘bivvy’ your bivvy team become your family, your support team, your nursing team and invariably they become long-term friends. The most memorable sound of an evening is the rumble of weary laughter that echoes around the village.
The organisation comprises of:
100 Volunteers on the course itself
400 Support staff overall
120,000 Liters of mineral water
270 Berber and Saharan tents
100 All-terrain vehicles
2 ‘Ecureuil’ helicopter
1 Cessna plane
3 Mountain bikes
6 ‘MdS Special’ commercial planes
1 Incinerator lorry for burning waste
4 Quads to ensure environment and safety on race
52 Members of medical team
6.5 km Elastoplast
150 Liters of disinfectant
1 Editing bus
1 Satellite image station
6 Satellite telephones
15 Computers, fax and internet
30 % Previous MdS competitors
25 % UK & Ireland entrants
30 % French entrants
14 % Women
45 % Veterans
30 % In teams of three or more
10 % Walkers
90 % Alternate walking and running
14 km / hr : average maximum speed
3 km / hr : average minimum speed
Age of youngest competitor : 16
Age of oldest competitor : 78
The MdS is a six day race.
There is only one rest day.
The distance is about 254 km – that’s 156 miles!
The longest stage is about 91 km – that’s 55 miles!
You may struggle to explain to people why you would want to do this!
TASH stands for equity, opportunity and inclusion for people with disabilities.
As a leader in disability advocacy for more than 35 years, the mission of TASH is to promote the full inclusion and participation of children and adults with significant disabilities in every aspect of their community, and to eliminate the social injustices that diminish human rights. These things are accomplished through collaboration among self-advocates, families, professionals, policy-makers, advocates and many others who seek to promote equity, opportunity and inclusion. Together, this mission is realized through:
Advocacy for equity, opportunities, social justice and human rights
Education of the public, government officials, community leaders and service providers
Research that translates excellence to practice
Individualized, quality supports in place of congregate and segregated settings and services
Legislation, litigation and public policy consistent with the mission and vision of TASH
The focus of TASH is supporting those people with significant disabilities and support needs who are most at risk for being excluded from society; perceived by traditional service systems as most challenging; most likely to have their rights abridged; most likely to be at risk for living, working, playing and learning in segregated environments; least likely to have the tools and opportunities necessary to advocate on their behalf; and are most likely to need ongoing, individualized supports to participate in inclusive communities and enjoy a quality of life similar to that available to all people.