Marathon des Sables
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Marathon des Sables

The following article was submitted by W. Bro Carl Gair, a Past Master of St. Cuthbert Lodge No.1902 on his recent fundraising efforts for MENCAP. On behalf of MENCAP, he would like to thank the Provincial Grand Lodge of Northumberland for the £500 donation made towards his fundraising target. He would also like to thank all of the brethren in the Province who have sponsored him.  

Carl Gair, a biomedical scientist from Wansbeck General Hospital, has recently returned from the adventure of a lifetime.  He has completed the Marathon des Sables (MDS) in aid of the charity MENCAP.  The event is an annual event. It has a gruelling seven day with six different stages and covers 156 miles of the Sahara Desert.  Participants are completely self sufficient during their time in the desert and have to carry everything that they need to survive for seven days, with the exception of a tent.

2010 is a particularly special year to be running the MDS as it celebrated its 25th Anniversary.  To commemorate this, the organisers included a few surprises for the competitors which made this the hardest event to date.  In Stage 1, 1031 competitors run 18 miles through sloped valleys, river beds and flat stretches of bushy weeds - Not typically what people were expecting from a desert landscape.  Stage 2 covered 25 miles over a lot of mountains and a long stretch of big dunes just before getting to the camp. The third stage, although flatter in terrain, was a particularly hot day where temperatures soared to 51C and the route took participants over a dried up salt lake where there was nowhere to seek solace from the sun over the 25 miles that had to be completed. With 30 competitors already deciding to leave the race, the rest had Stage 4 to look forward to – a mighty 52 mile run, taking most competitors deep into the night.  Finishing this stage at 6 a.m. in the morning, it enabled Carl to have a day’s rest before setting out on the Marathon day (26.2 miles).  The final stage was considered by most to be a 13 mile fun run in comparison to the previous stages but it still saw competitors running over soft sand, through steep dunes in order to reach the desired finish line.

On his personal race, Carl commented, “When I entered the race, I only ever hoped to finish it but after nearly two years of training, I felt I could push myself to finish in the top half.  I did achieve this ultimate goal.  The race was gruelling but however I had enormous support from many people at home and I knew that they were monitoring my progress in the desert.  Their messages of encouragement kept my spirits high and encouraged me to reach the finishing line.”

Carl would like to thank everyone who has supported him in his fundraising for the charity MENCAP.  He set himself an initial target of raising £10,000, but with the generosity of the local community and businesses he has surpassed this total and has collected £11,500.


Link to UGLE website