Monthly Archives: April 2012

Toenails slowly turning black!!!

Hello to all my wonderful supporters!

Well I have been back from the Marathon des Sables in Morocco, just over a week now and have done as the lovely French doctor advised and pretty much rested my rather battered feet! Would you like to see them? Well here are a couple of pics in technicolour for your amusement – these were taken two days after returning to the UK having taken off the bandages…

Beautiful? You can see the two drill holes where they released the pressure from blisters under the toenail after Stage 2 – lovely.






and the left foot (it was remarked upon how balanced and symmetrical my big toe injuries were…

again, beautiful don’t you think… and believe me running 155 miles on these wasn’t the worst of it. In the next photo you sort of see how battered my the soles of my feet were – what I had thought was repeated blistering was in fact very severe bruising that was by the end pure agony to walk on…









left, and right…








Now I know that some of you might be squeamish… so I apologise and for your delectation I add the following beautiful picture taken on Stage 1 of the race…







…just to give you a small taster.

I’m busy beginning to write up the race in full and will hopefully be able to post it here and on my website by the end of this week, with photos galore… (not all my photos as after being buried in a sanddune on Stage 2 my camera decided that it couldn’t cope with a second MDS and gave up the ghost).

Once again, a big thank you to all of you who have sent me messages, emails whilst I was in the desert (as you see from below – reading emails in the evening was an essential part of the day:








So to those of you who followed the race, a BIG THANK YOU TO YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT, it meant absolutely everything to me from the ironically amusing jokes, to the philosophical whimsies which inspired me never to give up. Thank you all, they helped me laugh, cry and kept me running.

Big love to all.



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Well folks, it’s all done and dusted

I’ve survived a gruelling 150+ mile race across the Sahara Desert for the second time.

All I can say is that it has been one hell of an experience from beginning to end. As fun, challenging, exciting, demanding and extraordinary as the first time, if not more so, in so many ways.

I’ve made some very special friends. Not least, the seven lovely (if a tad smelly) men I shared a tent with for the last week. We’ve shed tears, laughter and a few unsavoury moments that will bind us together forever. And also with other participants who, at times I ran with who got me through, or I helped through low patches.

The Tiyanjane Clinic has never been far from my mind, and was a wonderful source of inspiration when the going got tough. As were all the wonderful messages I recieved from so many of you willing me on… I can’t tell you how much those messages helped. Thank you!  I am now clean and sand free, if hobbling a bit with rather bruised and battered feet. It remains to be seen how long my toenails cling on to my toes!

As I sit enjoying the sun and a cold beer during a last afternoon in Morocco, I send my love and thanks to you all and will let you know in due course how much money I have raised. Cheers for now!

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Stage 5: Hello from the Sahara Desert for the last time!

What a day it has been. My 13th full marathon and boy, was it tough…

The first 10k were horrific for me. My feet were agony. Walking hurt.  Running hurt and I pretty much stumbled over the line at CP1 and had a small meltdown bursting into tears on a very sympathetic doctor’s shoulder. She patched my left foot up gave me a painkiller and off I went.

I was now at the back of the field with what looked like the walking wounded returning from some war. But, I found my mojo and set off, singing all the way. I caught up with four of my tent buddies at CP2 and then straight on to CP3 through some of the most beautiful dunes and wild scenery.  I’m proud to say from CP1 onwards no one passed me. I don’t know why but despite my feet I felt fantastic and it was just amazing to be in the desert today.

Thanks to all who wrote to me everyday – it has been wonderful to have your support and very emotional. We’re about to be treated to Orchestra de Paris, live in the Sahara. XX


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Stage 4: What a long old slog that was

We started running at 8.30am and I finally crossed the finish line somewhere around 3am.

It was a tough day… A case of power marching, the desert shuffle and a slightly delerious run. I will save the story of this stage for later as it had many twists and turns. 

I ran with lots of different people and had a lot of laughs and interesting moments – not least when stumbling out of CP5 into the dunes and falling headlong down one… Much to the amusement of the two French guys with me at that moment.

 I’m proud to say I ran in the dark on my own and didn’t get lost! I sang a lot, lost my voice, but the stars and moon were out and the desert was inspirational!

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Stage 3: Where to begin… what a day

Found the first 12 kilometres really tough, but then someone must’ve put something in my drink as I stormed up the hill from CP1 and down into a beautiful valley of dunes. Ran with a lovely 60+ Moroccan, Amine and had lots of laughs.

Crossing the dry lake from CP2 was “encroyable”! The ground was like an old elephant’s skin. A sandstorm blew across and I could barely see the runner in front. Quite exciting in a rather scary way…

A few toenails trying hard to part company with my toes, but other than that all good. Filthy and my hairstyle is something special – and would you believe it? Sand everywhere!

I finished today with Ahmed from my tent. He’s awesome… He caught me with about 1 km to go. I was giving all those in earshot a full rendition of “Les Mis.” 🙂

There are some French firemen pulling disabled children along on a wheelchair. Watching them finish each day is something very unique.

Love from a very dirty, smelly, but happy Harry. Big day tomorrow, steady as she goes! xxxx

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Stage 2: What a truly beautiful day

A bit of cloud cover to start with lulled us into a false sense of security and everyone was going ‘guns blazing’ to CP1. A lot of folk, tired from yesterday, began to slow up and the first real dune field reduced a lot of runners to walking.

I love dunes. No stones and the sand is soft going down, and going up well, Jon would never forgive me if I didn’t charge up them. Each one was just a step-up session…

CP2 to CP3: Well that was something else… 6 miles across a flat, dry lake. It went on for ever and ever and EVER. Head down and just keep going. My feet felt like I had hot coals in them and at one point it felt like a blister exploded. (I have spent the last hour in “Doc Trotters” to have my feet mummified – all patched up for tomorrow).

CP3 onwards: Beautiful dunes. I popped on my iPod and a mixture of David Guetta and Nina Simone saw me through. Pipped to the post by an Italian as we tried to outrun each other! GRRR!

A new day tomorrow… Off to eat dried shepherd’s pie!

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Stage 1: Bonjour! News from the Sahara Desert

Stage 1 complete!

Phew, that was something! 46 degrees apparently and it is going to get hotter!!! But what can I say: it is simply magical and awesome to be back here. I did it in about 5 hours. Someone put in a massively long hill right before the finish in the heat of the day which never ended and then the longest 3km to the bivouac – not sure who measured that one. It was a beautiful day though, stunning to run through the oueds and jebels, urged on by many beautiful (but dirty handed) children at points. I ran with some great folk at variuos points and was 4th into my tent just ahead of Sam (539). The competition is fierce at the front and also with the female Brits… I think just finishing in this heat is going to be an achievement. All toes intact and so far blister free.

It is just incredible to be here again. Tiyanjane I can hear your voices. Catherine I carry your heart, wings and star with me. I love you all! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


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Follow runner 428 in the Marathon des Sables 2012…me!

Here is how to follow the Marathon des Sables 2012 which is taking place from 8th April to the 14th April.

You can follow the race on line, where there will be a webcam live from each stage’s finish line – the website is

To leave me a message during the race click on “write to a competitor” and follow the instructions.  My race number is 428.  Receiving messages in the desert is a big highlight of each day so if you have time to drop me a line, to urge me on or send me a silly message to make me laugh or cry then please please do so.

Many, many thanks

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So – here I go folks, off to the Sahara Desert where at least the sun is shining!

So here it is, the days have finally passed, I have done my last shift on the ward at work and to be honest I feel like I am heading to the desert for a rest!  No, seriously, in a few hours 200 odd Brits will be cautiously making their way to Gatwick Airport – we will be easy to spot, the ones with the backpacks that get stopped going through customs because of all the powdery drinks we are carrying.

I had my final physio session with the quite simply awesome Brett Davison of the RFU.  I am declared to be in ship shape form and fighting fit. I have repacked my kit for the umpteenth time and managed to shave off a few more grams here and there, and add a couple more again!  So here is what I am taking:


I know it doesn’t look like it, but in amongst all of that is enough food to get me through 6 arduous stages of the desert… around 2500 calories per day, all carefully measured and weighed to the smallest grain.  I will be sampling the delights of sweet energy drinks and gels, a porridgy dried fruit mixture in the mornings, and delicious and varied forms of freeze dried hot meals in the evenings such as Shepherd’s Pie, or Beef and Potato Hot Pot – for those of you who have never sampled the delights of the freeze dried meals, well they are more like sheperd’s mashed up and Beef mush! But they do the job.

Here is what it looks like all packed up and ready to go…Image

It’s actually not too heavy, well around the 10kg mark which is lighter than 5 years ago, and it will get lighter each day as I eat my way through it.

The down side of being a nurse as opposed to a secretary from 5 years ago is that I am far more aware of the risks of bad personal hygiene.  Not that I was unclean in my approach 5 years ago, but I think I am compensating for too much knowledge and seem to be packing rather a lot of cleaning products!

Anyways, folks, as the evening draws to a close, I must head for some shut eye and savour my last night in my bed and with my moggy who has been surveying my packing abilities with a rather wry expression.

My brother Nick will be posting my daily reports on my blog for me so keep following…

Love to you all, and thank you for your wonderful words of support, I will listen out for the voices across the African skies from Malawi and am sure I will hear them in my heart – thank you all, and good night

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Sands of the desert fast approaching… the countdown begins

Well folks, in exactly one week I should be tucked up in my sleeping bag having completed the second stage of the Marathon des Sables 2012… Am I excited? I can barely sleep I am so excited, and for those of you who know, it takes a lot for me not to sleep well.

It’s been a strange last week as I lead up to Thursday 5th April, when I fly out to Morocco.  I finished my night shifts last week and went for a gentle but enjoyable run last Wednesday with my full pack – a couple of niggling issues raised their ugly head – the main one being where the areas chaff.  I am now unable to run with my pack until race day on Sunday in order to allow the chaffing sites to heal properly. I would post a picture of the sore areas on my back but am struggling with the acrobatics of trying to do this.   A long weekend at work has I suppose helped me in the mindset of being on my feet for long hours, and the heat of the ward certainly is more like the desert than anywhere else I have been of late.

My final few days are mainly going to be spent at work, but they’ve not been without their elements of fun.  I sufficiently stuffed myself with a glorious Sunday roast along with my good friends Lin & Andy and little Albie whom I shall blow hundreds of kisses to from the dunes of the Sahara.  I savoured every drop of gravy, every morsel of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding – a week of dried food and sweet electrolytes really does make you taste everything just that little bit more, even in anticipation…

Today I taught my weekly spin class at the Third Space gym – I intended to simply shout out instructions and coast along myself in order to theoretically “taper” my energy and save it for the desert – but as many of the people who attend my spinning class would say, I’m not very good at simply coasting along and get a tad too involved and so end up doing as I am demanding of the class…and as it is meant to be a level 3 class, after 60 minutes one’s legs feel very similar to jelly, clothes are drenched in sweat and I had nearly lost my voice!  Four of us then headed out to St James’s Park for the Interval Running Class.  This time I did hang back and just make the class do all the work whilst I stood and watched (and occasionally shouted for them to run faster – I don’t have a fierce reputation for nothing after all).

Still to go is a session with Jon, tomorrow morning – hopefully relaxing and not too taxing, (she says with a wry smile!)… And then on Wednesday after work a final physio session with Brett – awesome!

My kit is packed – a tad heavy, but I will attach a photo of this on Wednesday evening, after my final panicked repack and repack!

So many of you have started sending me supportive messages – please keep them coming, they mean so much to me.

Just two days to go…and counting!

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