David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The 24th Marathon Des Sables

Steve Elford

The 24th Marathon Des Sables will take place in southern Morocco between 27th March and 6th. April, 2009. It is a 6 day/151 mile (243km) endurance race across the Sahara Desert. It has become known as The Toughest Footrace on Earth. Equivalent to five marathons in a single week. Across difficult terrain, rocky surfaces, sand dunes and scorching heat whilst carrying their self-sufficiency equipment and rations in a backpack with only 1.5 litres of water allocated per day. Must be mental I hear you say, no courageous I say! As a young man I once did the famous annual Ten Tors Expedition over Dartmoor National Park on the 50 mile route and thought that was tough, but I confess it was a mere stroll in the park compared to the Marathon Des Sables! 850 competitors from 39 countries will be taking part this year.

Numerous charities benefit from the sponsorship of each competitor who has trained hard over many months and, in some cases, even a number of years. The 2009 event will see the UK entering about 200 competitors and of those no less than 18 will be running the MdS in order to raise money for the charity Facing Africa. Noma (cancrum oris) is an acute and ravaging gangrenous infection affecting the face. The victims of Noma are mainly children under the age of 6, caught in a vicious circle of extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition. Facing Africa is committed to eliminating this horrific disease.

Steven Elford is the 30 year old son of Janet and Raymond Elford who are very good friends of mine. In 2001 whilst serving in the armed forces in Northern Ireland Steve was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Following a successful operation and a lot of determination he finally came out of remission in June 2006. As a gesture of gratitude for his recovery Steve decided to embark on training for this phenomenal personal challenge. He wishes to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support in appreciation for the help and guidance he received from the charity during his life threatening illness. I have gladly sponsored him and I invite you to consider doing the same. However great or small each and every contribution will help towards this most worthy cause. Here is the secure website address to make a donation to Steve's ambitious goal;


(copy & paste into your browser)

For more information about the Marathon Des Sables visit the following web sites;



(copy & paste into your browser)

If you have cable, digital or satellite television Eurosport will be covering the race each day so you can follow the event as it unfolds towards its exciting climax. May God be with you Steve and your fellow competitors and bless each one of you throughout every inch of this arduous and epic journey.


Annette said...

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Old Plod said...

Steve Elford has sent me the following message having viewed this posting;
Thank you David.
I am very touched and pleased by your story, with less than a week left, there are all sorts of emotions running through me at the moment, none more than determination and tremendous gratitude from the support people have shown.
I will take your words of support to the desert with me and do them justice, and I too, hope that God will push me along a little faster, I think they call it God speed!
Thank you once again and no doubt I will see you at the Conservative club when I return for a well deserved ale or two.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Came across your website and found it interesting. The blogging world is full of old codgers who ruminate when they should be doing something else. I am newish to this blogging lark and am learning all the time. Good luck, your technology seems far superior to mine.

Old Plod said...

Steve's parents have sent me the following message;

Dear David
Many thanks for putting the info about the mds and mentioning our Steve on your blog. It is most appreciated by all of us.

He flew out to Morrocco yesterday and arrived safely to be greeted by 30 degrees. They will be taken out to the Desert Base Camp today for the Admin checks and to pack their Rucksacks in preparation for the start of the Race on Sunday morning at 9.00am.

It will be a great personal challenge for him and also a great experience and a way of raising as much as he can for the MacMillan Charity.

We will now not have any phone contact but he hopes to be able to send an email during the race and if we have any info I will update you.

Thanking you once again

Janet & Ray Elford

Old Plod said...

I have received this update from Steve's parents;
Dear David
Had a call from Steve at 11.15 last night to say yesterday they had the worst thunder storm they could remember locally and he was out running in the Desert with 6 others and had to be picked up and taken back to the Hotel with all their kit leaking wet through. The Hotel have been very good with helping them to "dry out". The down side is the start of the race has been put back to Monday and he does not know how they will work out the mileage for each day. He was very upbeat and in good spirits and said that the experience so far had been brilliant and I`m sure he will make a lot of new friends. Will be in touch. Regards Janet & Ray

Old Plod said...

I am pleased to say that I received the following message from Steve's parents on Friday, 3rd. April,2009;

Hello David. Steve rang @8.30pm to say he had completed the race. He was understandably very emotional and had the Medal around his neck. We are very proud of him and so glad he has achieved his goal. He flies back on Monday so I expect there will be a lot of celebrating done over the weekend and a lot of story swapping with the other competitors.

See you soon

Janet & Ray

Many congratulations Steve on a fantastic achievement. I shall look forward to hearing all about your exploits and experiences from your parents the next time I see in the Conservative Club. Enjoy the welcome home celebrations, you richly deserve them and thank you for raising so much money for Macmillan Cancer Support. You are a star and all your sponsors are extremely proud of you and your wonderful achievement. David Farley, aka, Old Plod of Plympton.