I haven’t run a single step for 14 days. This self-imposed running celibacy has been due to the ankle I overstrained during the last two stages of the Marathon des Sables. I spent last week’s training sessions either on the bike, on the rowing machine or in the swimming pool. But today – finally – I was going to test my foot properly for the very first time since we returned from Morocco. Armed with a backpack, my trusted blue old Nimbuses and brand new GORE shorts I ran 8k (4.30) at a comfortable pace along the busy streets of Oslo. And do you know what? It rained! Lovely, wonderful rain! When I got back home I did an inventory of my current running shoes that you can see to the left. Notice any pattern? Even my desert INOV8s have an orange hue after the desert sand. Blue and orange, those are my colours. We should ask Asics to sponsor us. God knows I have every single model from last year’s collection. I kinda feel like ultrarunning’s Carrie Bradshaw.
We thought we’d give you a teaser trailer of one of the videos we took in the Sahara, in anticipation of the full-length motion picture. Please enjoy!
Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.
I’ve always kind of liked that quote. Nobody’s ever accused us of being smart. In fact, I just spoke to one of our oldest friends: Patrik, who has known both of us since we were toddlers. His comment was simply: “You should get your heads examined. There’s something wrong with you.” I remember the first time I broached the subject of running Marathon des Sables to Jakob three years ago. It was such a crazy, scary and absolutely impossible thing to contemplate. But strangely tempting. I mean, who were we to consider entering such a race? What had we accomplished? A couple of marathons and training for a half Ironman on Tjörn and we believed ourselves to be invincible. An Ironman and an 108k-race later, we applied for the race we’d dreamed about for so long. And we did it! Surreal is the word that comes to mind. And I’m so glad that I got Jakob to share the experience with me. It wouldn’t have been the same on my own, and the fact is that none of us would probably have crossed the finish line without the help of the other. At the moment Jakob and I are busy writing a chronicle about this year’s Marathon des Sables, but unlike our previous competitions this has been a multi-day event lasting for an entire week, not counting our adventures in Madrid and the first couple of days in the desert prior to the start. So it’s taking a while longer than we thought. So to satisfy your demand for news, here are some official photos that we’ve borrowed from the official website for the Marathon des Sables. On some of them, you can even identify the two of us!
Right here, for instance. Diagonally right above Union Jack, me crossing my arms and Jakob wearing red shorts.
Oh, and once again we would like to thank all of you who have supported our charity through your donations! The website will be open for a while longer, so those of you who haven’t hade the opportunity to donate yet: please do so right here! You’ve donated € 2 350 so far and we’re only € 150 short of our goal of € 2 500!!!
The heli hovering above us at the start of the Unicef charity stage 6.
Entering a black gravelly field after passing through the dunes of Jebel Debouaâ.
It is surreal being back in Gothenburg after 9 days in the deep desert of northwestern Africa and 5 days in the magical city of Marrakesh in Morroco. Nothing has changed in Gothenburg, but we have been altered. It feel like we have conquered the desert, but we know that the desert simply allowed us to live, because we played by it’s rules.
It is bewildering to look at people on the street and realize that they don’t have the faintest idea and probably little interest in the fact that the 28h Marathon des Sables has been concluded. Then again, I believe that for most of us it’s a competition with ourselves and our mental roadblocks.
The adventure left us with deep impressions and has to some degree altered us. To distill this into a sentence or two is hard, but in a 1972 interview the American boxer Muhammad Ali nailed it, even though bluntly: “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.
Hello everybody! Jakob & Jakob are finally back online after more than a week off the grid somewhere in southern Morrocan Sahara. The Marathon of the Sands has been an absolutely surreal experience, as exquisitely and tear-inducingly beautiful as it has been excruciatingly brutal and painful. We’ve slept on rugs in berber tents, been woken by the first rays of African sunlight (or by our tentmates snoring), cooked our freeze dried food on campfires, cursed over the unbelievable amount of sand in our shoes after each leg, shared dirty jokes in the dark while falling asleep, curled up in our awesome sleeping bags, marvelled at the brigthly shining stars at night, shuffled over endless sanddunes in search of checkpoints, been saving our precious daily water supplies, getting our blisters cut, ingesting 20 tablets of salt per day, singing along to Highway to Hell at the top of our voices at every start, surfed down steep slopes of gloden sand, tripped gingerly over ghostly pale scorpions, climbed vertical djebels and simply been overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the part of Africa known as the Sahara.
View from the Djebel Zireg, around 16,5k into leg 4.
This morning a sand tornado swept through camp and flattened several tents, including ours, and blew many sleeping bags and mattresses 300 feet into the air far across the dunes. Yesterday Sahara showed us a brutal face with more than 45C and no wind whatsoever. Jakob and I arrived at camp at 0120 am after 75,7k in 16h45m and were greeted with the customary cup of sweet berber tea, smiles and shouts of “Bravo Jakob et Jakob!!!”. My ankle gave up after only 2 checkpoints and I spent the next 60k hobbling forward. Our feet are full of huge blisters and bloody chafings but its only to be expected here in the desert. In fact were luckier than many that have been forced to retire due to severe dehydration, injuries and electrolyte imbalance. This adventure is all about confronting the pain and heat and let it wash over you. Oh, and we have many cool pics and vids of surfing down enormous sand dunes :) Dont forget to donate to the children at SFH and thanks for all of your support! Love, J&J
We finished the 38k of leg 3 today in just under 7 hours meaning weve run 105k in 3 days :) Today the temperature peaked at 41 making it tough going and as always the sand is a big issue running with bad gaiters. Stiff shoulders and aching blisters aside though, were having a fabulous time! This is the way to see the Sahara = on foot. Yesterdays 30k of leg 2 were particularly hilly which suited us brilliantly and we climbed almost 100 places in the rankings. Todays results are not in yet but hopefully we havent fallen to far. Were only allowed 1 mail/day but please know that we are thinking of all of you! YOU on the other hand can send us mails as well and weve already received several. Thank you so much! Your mails mean a lot and help us in the evenings when were tired and sore :) And finally: please remember to donate to the children at SFH! Were counting on your support. Many warm hugs, loving kisses and heartfelt thanks to all of you! Tomorrow the longest leg (75k) awaits… J&J :)
The first stage of 37 km is finished. It was more exhausting and took longer than we expected, but we feel pretty good. We reached the camp after 6h and 39 minutes. Jakob and I somehow miscalculated the amout of sand in Sahara, so as soon as we started running in the beautiful sand dunes, so typical for the desert, our shoes filled with so much sand the foot didnt have any space and curled up. It is not only annoying, but time consuming to empty the shoes. We are working on a solution. The desert is as astonihing as we could imagie. There are the fantastic dunes which we recommend admiring from a distance. Running in them is terribly hard. So far the wind has been blowig all the time. The tents consist of 6 wooden poles covered by a black rugg and a red carpet covers half the floor. When temperatur drops to +5 and the wind picks up its intensly cold. The only place you can be in is your sleeping bag. Dont forget to help us raise money for the Children’s Ward at http://www.JakobAndJakob.com
Following Jakob & Jakob’s conventional method of preparation, the mishaps and adventures have already started.
If there is one single rule an aspiring marathoner should adhere to, it would be this. Under no circumstances should you try to run a race wearing completely new shoes and a crisp, priorly untouched running outfit. The risk for pain, misery and slow death by chafing is simply to great. To contemplate to run an ultramarathon in unused jerseys, shorts and – God forbid – brand-new shoes, would by association be complete and utter madness. Read more
Despite taking every precaution imaginable, i.e. double checking all of my own and most of Jakob’s gear yesterday, setting the alarm for 03:50 a.m., booking a cab, catching the flight train with loads of time to spare, lovely AirBerlin has still managed to misplace my brightly coloured orange North Face bag with EVERY SINGLE ITEM OF GEAR NECESSARY FOR THE MARATHON DES SABLES, including a substantial amount of Jakob’s gear, among other things his shoes, all of his food, knife, lighter and socks.
Wonderful. We’re THIS close to not running our second consecutive race (hello, NYC Marathon)… Right now, we’re frantically contacting resellers to get hold of emergency stuff and airline companies to locate our bag.
The adventure continues, so stay tuned. Chances are we’ll be competing in jeans, loafers and cotton t-shirts, which will certainly be a first for MdeS, even for the French.
“We don’t know where you parcel is” the post clerk is telling me. It’s a brisk sunny Tuesday morning in Manhattan and I’m leaving the city in 9 hours to catch my plane that will eventually take me to Madrid, where I’m meeting Jakob.
“What do you mean you don’t know where the parcel is” I ask? I have a delivery notice and a tracking number. Isn’t the point of tracing parcels to know where they are? The last piece of equipment arrived from England a day before and I just need to pick it up from the post office. A trivial task, one would think. One hour in the post office and two hours on the phone later and still no parcel. It contains our backpacks, in which we are supposed to carry all our equipment as well as food for one week in the desert. I am rather anxious to get my hands on it. Read more