Imagine running 151 miles. Granted you have six days to do it, but here is the tough part: the trail winds through the Sahara desert in Morocco.
Sounds insane, right? Not to Chico State’s Information Security Manager Ed Hudson, who will be traveling to Africa March 27 to put his body to a truly grueling test.
Ed, one of 25 Americans, will be competing in the 26th Sultan Marathon Des Sables (The Marathon of the Sands) April 1-10, a 151-mile, six-day race in the Sahara Desert.
“Runners from 42 countries will converge that first week of April to test ourselves against heat, sand, and fatigue in an ultra marathon called ‘the toughest footrace on the planet,’” Ed writes in his personal blog, Greater Than or Equal 2, a blog dedicated to his preparation for the marathon.
In a little over a week, Ed will jump onto a bus in Ouarzazate, Morocco, with all of the race competitors. They will be driven into the middle of the Sahara, dropped off, and expected to live out of their backpack for the duration of the race.
Pulled from Ed’s blog, here is a description of what he is in for.
“Over the course of six days and approximately 150 miles runners are completely self sufficient except for water rationed at check points and a bivouac each night. Carrying fully loaded packs with all our food, supplies, clothing and sleeping gear the course is broken into stages equaling about 20 miles each day with a middle stage of 50 miles followed by a full marathon, 26.2 miles the next day. Compulsory items such as a compass, anti-venom kit, survival blanket and flares are checked by race officials along with a requisite 2000 calories per day each runner must have in their possession.”
Ed has been training and gathering his equipment since December and with mere days until he departs for Morocco, he explains what is going on inside his head.
“As for right now… I am a complete mixed bag of excitement and nervousness. For an ultra-runner this is like Everest so I find myself checking and rechecking my gear, wondering if I trained hard enough, should I have done more, or something differently? Can I lighten my pack somewhere I haven’t thought of? But, at the same time I feel confident. I have tried all the food, run with my pack, worn the clothes I am going to wear and am ready to deal with all the things I have control over; so what’s left is what I can’t: the heat, the sand, the scorpions!!!”
“By the way, I couldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have the support I do from friends and family and coworkers. You might be out there running on your own, but you can’t get there without others.”
Some may wonder why anyone would want to put themselves through this. The race homepage opens up with saying “Welcome to the world of lunatics and masochists.” But as Ed’s boss says “Well, it’s a super awesome goal… and maybe Ed is a little crazy.”
Crazy or not, Ed is ready for this test. So wish him luck as he represents Chico – and check back toward the end of April when we’ll do a follow up of the post-race tales from Ed.
And just like Ed signs off on his posts, happy running.