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