RAF Servicemen based at RAF Benson and RAF Aldergrove have raised over £5000 for the Combat Stress and the Meningitis Trust charities by taking part in the world famous Marathon des Sables.
Sergeant Jon Bailey of 78 Squadron at RAF Benson and Sergeant Pete Wood of 230 Squadron, RAF Aldergrove, took part in the Marathon des Sables at the beginning of April this year.
The event is a series of long distances runs totaling just over 250 kilometers across the Sahara Desert in Morocco. This is equivalent to each competitor running a marathon a day for six days across arduous terrain in temperatures up to 50 degrees centigrade whilst carrying their food and sleeping equipment for the duration of the event.
This year, the route was almost 254 kilometers long and was broken down into 6 stages consisting of 31.6 km, 38 km, 40.5 km, 75.5 km, 42.2 km and 17.5 km making it the longest ever in the history of the marathon des Sables. The race was challenging from day one - and continued that way - offering all the variety of the Sahara.
The course took the runners over ergs or dune zones, seriously steep jebels (with a slope factor of up to 25%) and rocky plateaus. They had to cross hard as iron salt-flats and the driest of wadis, all with a backdrop of the most beautiful of landscapes with vistas accessible only to those on foot.
Upon his return from the event, Sergeant Bailey commented “it was a long hard slog and very, very emotional. I got blisters on my toes, over the soles of my feet and heels. We had a lot of support from colleagues at work and friends and family back at home which helped pull us through. The one quote that got me through the pain was ‘run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must just never give up’. It was an awesome experience even with the small amount of training I did. All you need is the right amount of determination to get you through!”
Photographs: RAF, MOD.
Image one: (Larger Size) Sergeant Pete Wood during the Marathon Des Sables.
Image two: (Larger Size) The Marathon des Sables.