I have just come back from one of the most memorable experiences of my life- the Oman Desert Marathon, which is a 165 km race run over 6 days. I ran for 4-8 hours each day carrying my 20lbs of equipment on my back, such as my sleeping bag and the food that would keep me going throughout this adventure.
On day 1 I found it really tough – it was so hot and I really felt like I was hitting a wall. However, that evening, whilst resting at the camp, something changed making this a run like no other for me. There was a 58 year old, blind lady, Odile, who was also doing the marathon accompanied by a guide. Unfortunately the guide injured his knee so had to drop out. One of the organisers announced this and asked if anyone would be willing to volunteer to help Odile round. There were a lot of blank faces whilst everyone looked around the room, but I saw it as an amazing opportunity so happily volunteered.
It’s funny because when people run, it’s easy and natural to think about the pain, the discomfort and what is going on in your own world. When I was running with Odile, I was thinking about her, how she felt, how she was doing. It pushed me further both emotionally and physically as the run was bigger than just me now. It was about the both of us, in it together until the finish line. Odile is from France so we talked loads in French and it was inspirational to hear how she had done loads of marathons in the past and how her disability really didn’t hold her back. It was incredible to see such force and determination in another human being.
Every day was exhausting but brilliant – we’d get back to the camp and had dinner at about 6pm. Dinner was dried food like pot noodles –anything we could just add hot water to. Everyone went to bed straight after as we were so tired plus it was pitch black in the desert with nothing else to do! I needed my rest but it did mean that I woke up again at midnight – I’m not used to going to bed so early! So far, I’ve done about 40 standard marathons and 10 ultra ones but this one has got to be my best yet.