Its begun. My endeavour across the endless expanse of sand. An constant plain of dry, arid land. The grains combining to form the never-ending dunes. But my trek through this ruthless wilderness had only just begun. I was on a solo mission, as was the desert, but of a slight different nature, to end mine. A wild thought. I knew I needed to respect the desert, either that or it wins. No, stop. I could not afford to lose concentration, it could be the death of me. My running must be the core focus of my mind. This didn’t last long.
We kept a tight-knit group. All in fear, not of the desert itself, but its efforts to defeat us. What alternative is there to finishing this race? A shameful one thats for sure, the topic of our realest fears. The investment of time, energy, the hours trekking the sand, this debt must be paid of. In full.
I wondered what the cohort of our hive pondered in efforts to maintain good head space. Motivation? Distraction? Anything to push through the heat, the humming drone of the desert. The many of us, decorated in sponsors, dressed to minimise sun exposure. The sun, how draining a thing, expert in sapping any remnant of energy from your system. This thought prompts me to wonder why we do things such as the Marathon Des Sables. Reward usually. Mental achievements conquer any other. And this task was all about mentality, just getting it done.
The dunes were a task and a half. It felt like it was 1 step forward, 2 back. Their soft texture not supplying sufficient grip to pursue its peak. Maybe avoid these things you say? Not a possibility, dunes 50 metres tall, kilometres wide. It was clear this outdoor sauna was taking its toll on the many. A steady trickle of competitors expanded several hundred metres, all of which caked with sweat, the cost of the landscape. My fancy G-SHOCK read 50 degrees celsius, a wishful thinker would say is the peak of this boil. Im not one of these thinkers. From my experience, theres a thin line between being positive and being wishful, neither of which have granted me success in any outcome.
I cant lie. Despite its hostile nature, it comforts me greatly. No worries, just dunes. Rolling, slowly but surely. Constantly moving but nobody would know. These slow waves of sand oscillating this expanse. Some rocky outcrops burnt black, like a toasted marshmallow, not an attractive look in my opinion. The first nights camp was in sight. A truck and a small grouping of organisers, clueless to our suffering. Not that I wanted to think about it. My preferred focus surrounded this space. The environment. Note where you lie, what surrounds you. The sleeping was rough, a small crammed tent, the only thing we needed that we didn’t carry. I shut eye relatively early, after all, a day running through the scorching heat didn’t leave you all that talkative. I froze overnight, the Sahara’s notorious nighttime sub-zero temperatures not helping the heatstroke and fatigue that hit like a wall once entering camp. The next morning induced a hungover like state, only worsened by the tent being boiled through exposure to morning sun. I almost stumbled outside to make breakfast, with my personal favourite on the menu – Scho-Ka-Cola – an chocolate form of emergency ration with quadruple the caffeine content of coffee. I took several. “Gotta do what you gotta do” I muttered to myself.
I embarked, fuelled by lousy porridge and my drug like chocolate nibbles. The day not different from the previous, described perfectly by the single word – hot. We each begun at different times, depending on when we trickled in yesterday.
Theme of control