Marathon des Sables

Not satisfied with completing the 6 day Everest Trail Race in 2016, Watch Manager Jenny Hill and Instructor at the Fire service College, has completed what is reputed to be the toughest footrace on earth – the Marathon des Sables (MDS).  It is a gruelling multi-day adventure in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments – the Sahara Desert.   Jenny put in an outstanding performance alongside 1233 other competitors, finishing 73rd overall, 7th in the women’s race and 1st British Woman.

Joining Jenny in the experience and raising funds at the same time for the Fire Fighters Charity, were Kathryn Duncan (LFB), Rick Ogden (LFB), Hayley Birch (LFB) and Adele Phemister (retired LFB).

Run over 7 days, participants run 155 miles, the equivalent of running from London to Dover and back but in 120 degree heat with a back pack, through dunes, rocky jebels (small dune type mountains), and across white-hot salt plains. The event is famous for its longest stage of around 56 miles which sees competitors setting of at dawn on day 4, running throughout the day and into the night, with many competitors not finishing until well into the second day.

The routes and format changes every year and is secret until the day before the event. Competitors have to be self-sufficient, carrying their food and equipment for the whole week, and sleep out in the desert in bivouac villages. Water is rationed, and if that ration is exceeded a time penalty is issued.

Jenny says “I decided to race hard from day 1. It was a risky strategy, and meant a great deal of suffering in very arduous conditions. Having massively restricted food and water, day after day makes for tough racing. However, to finish 7th female and top British women was something I never expected. To run 55 miles in one single stage alone, and to run it as hard as possible in the Sahara sun, carrying kit, was something I will always be proud of.”

Already looking ahead to the next challenge, Jenny is now considering taking part in either the 2018 Coast Rica Coastal Challenge or a possible rematch at next year’s Marathon des Sables.








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