Saturday, 24 March 2012

Running in the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi

Hi everyone.  I am now in Merzouga, Morocco.  I arrived here yesterday afternoon after one and a half days of driving through the desert on MDS like terrain.  The hotel is just a few hundred metres from the Erg Chebbi sand dunes, and I had my first taste of them yesterday afternoon.

After kitting up I set off in the direction of the highest sand dune I could see on the immediate horizon.  Running on the smaller sand dunes was not that tough, but as the sand dunes got higher so did the intensity of my effort.  The first kilometre took me 7 minutes but the second took me much longer.  As the slope increased it was one step forward and half a step back.  Finally on the highest sand dune I had to use both my hands and feet to scramble to the top.  I dug both hands into the sand and then moved each foot in turn.

Once at the top it was very easy to get back to the village.  Running down the sand dunes was no problem.  You just have to let your momentum carry you down and try not to fall over.  Even running on the flat was not that difficult as the sand was fairly compact.  In total I covered 4.9km in around 45 minutes.  It would have been much faster had I not tackled the highest sand dune in sight.

In terms of heat acclimatisation I am not getting the chance to do that at the moment.  Yesterday the weather was overcast with occasional showers, and today it is much the same.  The temperature is not much above 20C at a rough guess.  I really want the mercury to increase so I can experience running in the extreme heat.  If the MDS experiences weather like we are experiencing here at the moment, heat exhaustion will not be an issue.  Saying that I am sure it is going to get much hotter in the next 2 weeks.  The ideal situation for me would be crazily high temperatures before the race and lower temperatures during the race. That way my body would be able to handle the heat with ease.  So please please Lord give me some extreme heat in these coming days before the race.


  1. I hope you are taking at least a compass with you when going off into the sand dunes!

  2. Hi pete. Yes I run with all the kit I will be using during the MDS (minus my sleeping bag and fleece which I have replacd by an extra bottle of water) so a compass is included. It is quite hard to get lost though as the dunes are around 5km wide and 20 something km long. After that it is rocky stony ground so as long as you don't run in circles you will come to the stony ground eventually. I haven't seen any camel spiders so far, only birds and some beetles.