Miss Lees' Marathon Des Sables success!
Our Head of Modern Foreign Languages and Head of Spanish, Miss Nicky Lees undertook an extraordinary challenge over the Easter break: Marathon Des Sables, a run spanning the distance of six marathons over the course of six days in the Sahara desert, with daily distances ranging from around 19 miles to over 56 miles.
Miss Lees set off for Morocco on Friday 7 April, with the race starting on Sunday 9 April. Miss Lees set herself the challenge because she genuinely didn't know whether she would manage it, and because she believes:
“a challenge isn't really a challenge if you already know you can do it before you start”.
Update from Miss Lees during the challenge
Day one was about 30km with some runnable stretches but also plenty of small dunes which Miss Lees said are like running through peanut butter! It was a hot day but not unbearably so, and she finished in just under five hours. Friends have been suggesting songs for her playlist and Miss Lees had been saving them until she needed a boost in the desert - she was very appreciative thinking of everyone who has encouraged her throughout her training!
Day two - "Still alive - just!". A brutal 25 miles, hotter than day one, with a headwind, sand dunes throughout, a near-vertical rocky drop with a fixed rope and then a near-vertical sandy drop which was a lot like skiing on a black run. Miss Lees has "pretty sore feet, but otherwise all fine" and received quite a few emails at the end of day one and is grateful to all who sent them. She was looking forward to a hot pot for dinner with HP sauce when she signed off!
Day three was super hot, quite humid and absolutely brutal, again. Miss Lees said "I think it was the hardest running day of my life". Huge sandy climbs, technical rocky ascents and descents, fixed rope climbs and descents, hot plains, exposed windy ridges... At one point she froze on a climb and had to have a stern talk with herself and managed to complete the day OK, but feeling quite worried about day four. So far she has sore feet and a sore shoulder, and a few cuts and grazes, but is otherwise OK. Miss Lees also mentioned how 'absolutely stunning' the scenery is and how lucky she is to be there, although it is all a bit surreal.
Day four is 'the long one' and runners have to run during the night. Miss Lees got back in one piece before sunrise and, after a sleep, contacted us to let us know she is feeling OK - but that that "was the hardest day" she has ever had physically. So much sand, so much up and down, and brutally hot again. It reached 50 degrees on one of the days so most of the group started 'the long one' dehydrated. With over five miles of dunes, in the dark, Miss Lees said she was really scared but, again, had a stern talk with herself and thought of everyone at home and clearly managed to complete the day, and she said that the suggested songs on her playlist, with jokes and a poem, really helped.
Day five: Miss Lees said: "FINISHED!! I am utterly spent but elated too. Can't believe I managed it! Today was typically hot and sandy. I was going pretty well but took a spectacular tumble and didn't quite know where I was or what had happened. I was winded and have cut an elbow, both knees, one leg and have grazed my arm and side. Not bad all in one go! But I'm still standing and still smiling. It's been one heck of a week. it feels like I've been out here for ages, and it has also gone in a flash. I've been so buoyed by all the messages and support from back home and once again I thought of you all lots - you have all kept me going." Well done to Miss Lees! She finished 75th female and 617th overall, but said "for me it was all about completing the biggest challenge of my life rather than rankings".
Click here to view more photos of Miss Lees' challenge.