Alison’s Marathon des Sables blog: Stage 3

Stage 3: 38K

I should say a little about our routine in the camp: at 6am the tent is taken down while the eight of us sharing it pull sleeping bags high and tight over our heads to pretend it isn't happening. Grudgingly accepting reality we rise for breakfast: cold porridge with muesli. Then everything is packed up in time for our 8.30 start. That might sound like lots of hanging around but to tell the truth the time passes very quickly.

Once again we took off to Highway to Hell, so either the organisers are trying to tell us each day is going to be as brutal as the last or someone really likes AC/DC. Thankfully, the wind had dropped and after a cloudy start the sun came out. We were even more thankful for that fact that it was not blisteringly hot. The first 12K were relatively flat, albeit stony; then we came to the dunes and stayed on them for most of the day.

I actually managed some running today but I'm still only really keeping up with the walkers who aren't stopping at every checkpoint. You can waste a lot of time if you stop for a break at every checkpoint but at the same time it makes sense to pause for a bite and to replenish water supplies. The dunes are rough work, there's no getting around that, but today I found them as beautiful as yesterday was bleak: they really do nourish the spirit.

I have more blisters today but the paracetemol is working and I'm looking forward to the tough challenge ahead. And it will be tough: tomorrow is the 82K long stage. I wonder what song they'll use to let us know what lies ahead?