Luke Read’s six days, six marathons, 251km in total, in the Sahara Desert…
“Known as the hardest foot race on earth…”
On March 26th, Luke Read embarked on his toughest challenge yet, running 251km in the Saharan Desert, in temperatures raising to 56c.
Luke has raised £4,000 and counting for Suffolk Community Foundation and Cancer Campaign in Suffolk. He returned to England on the 4th of April in high spirits after completing a mission of a lifetime.
“Why am I putting myself through this?” Luke quotes.
“For two incredible local charities. Cancer Campaign in Suffolk (ccisuffolk.org), who are focused on life before, during and after cancer and who have a passion for caring for their local community and Suffolk Community Foundation to support charities and community groups in Suffolk who specialise in supporting men with their mental health.”
Day 1 : My ego race
The energy at the start line was electric. You could feel the tension from the other runners. Everyone, like me, wanted to get going after many months of training. We headed straight towards the incredible landscape, the sun was up and I was buzzing and feeling great at this point, just finding my feet and going through the motions. For me the first day turned out to be the hardest day. My game plan went out of the window as I found myself running through the deep sand, up the dunes and going as hard as I could. I finished day one in 4hrs and 20 minutes.
Day 3: 32.1km
After yesterday’s sandstorm, we all had a rough nights sleep. With the tent being pulled sideways by the wind and waking up like sand monsters, we looked a right picture! I finished the day buzzing, I enjoyed the process and mentally breaking down the course helped a great deal. I’ve started to find ways to tackle the event and mentally I’m fully involved now and feeling strong both mentally and physically. Dare I say it, at this point I’m now really enjoying everything about MDS… In fact, I’m loving it.
Day 5: A marathon to finish
After taking a day out to rest, allowing us to completely chill out, I was able to get on top of our admin / relax and have a day to sort out any of our injuries that we had been carrying. I found myself in the top 200 runners, which was a huge sense of achievement. During this last marathon we covered the incredible landscape of the Sahara going through soft sand, sand dunes, over jebels and heading through old ruins. Which at one point must of been a very small village.
The event itself was special. There was no lows, it was all highs for me. Challenging as expected, it’s not known as the hardest foot race on earth for no reason. It challenged me both physically and mentally. I’d suggest the mental side edged the physical side; yes, you have to have a standard of fitness but for me you have to have a world of resilience and mental strength to tackle the marathon des sables.
Day 2: 38.5km
After learning so much after day one and having a serious chat with myself about how I go about tackling the remaining 220km, I was feeling strong and ready for what day two had to throw at me. Today’s landscape consisted of sand dunes and a jebel ‘mountain’. With my peaks challenges behind me back home, I was massively looking forward to this. I love mountains and being in the Sahara climbing one was even more surreal. Looking back, day two turned out to be the biggest drop out of runners. With 60 runners not making the cut off time or pulling out due to injury. I really felt for these people, because I knew the hard work that each and every runner has put into this race.
Day 4 : The famous long day
This years distance was 85km with a cut off time of 35hrs. My body was feeling strong. Mentally I was in a great place also. My feet had a few blisters, but nothing to halt me.
I didn’t see a rock that was solid in the ground. As I then kicked the rock, pain straight away settled in. Put it this way, if I was a Nando’s spice meter at the time I would of gone from Lemon and Herb, cool as cucumber to Extra Hot in seconds – I wasn’t sure what I had done but I knew my big toe wasn’t feeling too happy about it! Head back in the game, moving well and sticking to the plan – the last 30km I was told were fairly flat and runnable so I decided that I was going to run what I physically could of that 30km.
A massive Congratulations and a huge thank you to Luke for his inspiring story and contribution to the Foundation in aid of Men’s mental health. We look forward to hearing about his next challenge!