Alison's Marathon des Sables blog: Stage 6

Our intrepid Triathlete's World Editor finally reaches the end of her first Sahara trek - and looks ahead to next time...

Posted: 13 April 2011
by Alison Hamlett
Alison MdS finish pic

At just 17.5K, the final stage of the 26th Marathon des Sables was the shortest by far but still proved to be challenging. It was another hot day - although once the temperature rises above 40C it's hard to differentiate between simply hot and blisteringly boiling.

In a departure from the norm for the Marathon des Sables, the final stage was to finish in the small town of Tazzarine (rather than on a sand dune). The last 2K would take runners through the narrow streets of the town to the finish line, but before that there was 15K of desert to negotiate. No major sand dunes today, just lots of rough sandy, stony ground. In the road book issued to every runner, there are descriptions of the terrain ahead. By the end of the week, the descrpitions had become a source of amusement thanks to thier vagueness. Gems like "sandy and stony", "variably stony" and "slightly stony" didn't really prepare us for what lay ahead.

For the final stage, the bottom 40 runners started an hour before everyone else at 8am. The route took them through the camp so we could give them a big cheer as they set off to complete the stage. At 9am the remaining runners set off, many breaking into a determined jog, ready to expend all their energy on the final push for the finish. I was not one of them. I broke into a determined walk and kept it up for the next four hours as the distant town of Tazzarine became bigger and bigger up ahead.

At around 500m to go the sense of occasion got the better of me and I managed a bit of a shuffle across the line, into the arms of race organiser Patrick Bauer, who personally congratulates every finisher and hands them a richly-deserved medal. Then I went to a cafe, sat down and drank the most delicious Coke of my life to date.

I'd like to say that I sat and contemplated the previous seven days and how profoundly they'd affected me, but I'd be lying. I'm still processing my "week of suffering" as a teammate and I christened the race. My blisters are healing, I'm committing the lessons I learned to memory and - most worringly - I'm thinking that doing the race again, but actually running some more next time, might not be that bad an idea....

Previous story
Alice's Cyprus International 4-day Challenge blog: Arrival
Next story
Alison's Marathon des Sables blog: Stage 5

Alison Hamlett, Marathon des Sables, ultra

Discuss this story

Fantastic effort Alison, what an achievement.
Posted: 14/04/2011 at 13:15

You look remarkably fresh in that photo ! I've really enjoyed following these blogs, congratulations on a great achievement.
Posted: 14/04/2011 at 16:11

Just amazing! Well done you have really inspired me to do it one day. And i see you did an awesome time in London marathon too. Well done!!
Posted: 19/04/2011 at 18:10

No one will understand just how good that coke tasted (or believe how much you were willing to pay for it) unless they were there.  Well done Alison.

 Jamile (GBR 915) 

Posted: 27/04/2011 at 10:04

Hi Alison,

I am doing the race next year and ive enjoyed reading your blog.

Congratulations on a superb achievement!


Posted: 15/05/2011 at 00:31

Dear Alison,

Im in awe and inspired. Would you be so kind as to run for us in the next London Marathon. And do you know anyone else aamongst your friends, who might also like to join you , in this potentially joyful and fun enterprise.

We are a small UK charity that seriously needs to raise money fairly urgently we can continue to provide for our poor children in India. We are LOVE ALIVE LTD reg charity number 1106808

You can find out more about us from this link or from our website  /  and

I do pray I'll hear from you soon and that you'll say yes.

Warmest Regards,

Bahnoon K. Agnew ( Ms.)

Chairperson; Love Alive Ltd

Posted: 27/10/2011 at 14:30

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

RW competitions