Marathon Day and oh what a day it was!

Started off stiff and had difficulty fitting my feet into my shoes. But, with the Stage starting early at 7:30, everyone was a bit slow getting going.

Gentle dunes to start with and after about 10 mins. or so, I fell into step with Ignacio, who I finished Stage 3 with. We stuck together and decided to push it a little bit to see how we felt.

We felt epic and ran 95% of today, (obviously more of a shuffle than an actual run!) until it got hot. At about 1PM, we were cruising. However, a few hitches due to the heat – I had a rather drastic nose bleed and only peed blood at one point… But, do not fear – all has returned to normal now.

Ignacio cruised in ahead of me. But, I got THE BEST HUG ever from Patrick Bauer as he gave me my medal. I believe the media took a good photo of us. He told me my smile lights up the desert every day!

Just a light jog tomorrow across the biggest ever dunes and one more night in this incredibly beautiful place.

The desert has excelled itself and I will be back to this EPIC LAND. X

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

HELLO!!

Sorry for no mail yesterday… Had to visit Doc Trotters – have some “jolie” blisters!

So, end of Day 3. What can I say? The MDS is living up to its billing as the toughest.

Yesterday was long, hot, sandy and tough. But, I got a hug and kiss off Patrick Bauer. I ran with some wonderful people, not least, Yoshizu from Japan who is dressed as a cow – we finished the stage together, alongside Al and Mark from my tent and Vivienne all holding hands.

Today may have been shorter, but, it had three ridiculously big climbs and tricky descents. The final descent down the canyon from the peak (after a ridiculously steep climb) hit 50 degrees and felt every bit of it. But, despite the toughness, it has been a glorious day. I put on some music and the first two tunes were my Daddy’s and I literally danced across the desert plain to Check Point 3, running past everyone (although not for long). I finished today with Phil and Ignacio. They totally saved me in the last 2 kilometres.

It is magic here and I love you all. Jim – golf email very popular!!

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

SALUT!!!! Hello from the beautiful Sahara Desert, at end of Stage 1.

It is incredible to be back here in all the sand, dust, heat, smell of tent mates, energy food, blisters and general bivouac banter and MDS magic!

Arrival into Ouazarzate on Friday morning already seems like a long time ago. I was on the first plane and after a long hot bus journey with lots of first time MDSers and all their nervous energy. We arrived at our first bivouac at about 5pm. My fellow tent mates arrived later at about 6.30pm. And what a wonderful tent we have. We are just six of us as there have been some withdrawals over the last couple of days. So, my boys are: Kevin, Matt, Aiden, Alistair and Mark. We have barely stopped laughing! And, we are a very supportive tent.  Kevin and Matt are the speedsters. The rest of us finished a hot, dusty first stage together!

Very sobering at CP1 when someone collapsed in front of me and within seconds was receiving CPR! It was a slow but steady pace for me…  It’s only Day 1 after all and S2 looks big. X

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

It’s here – one day until the desert! MDS 2017….

…and how excited am I? Very excited…actually I can’t believe 5 years have been and gone and here I am having a delicious brunch prepared by my lovely mummy, sitting in my kitchen in Cornwall all ready to set off once more to the Sahara Desert!

I said farewell to work colleagues and patients on Tuesday, and was wished “happy holidays” and “good luck”.

I’ve scrambled around Wadebridge gathering the last minute bits of kit/food/stuff that I need to take to the desert.  I’ve been through my kit and rucksack several times…trying to argue the case for every item I am taking, sawing off the handle of my toothbrush to save a couple of grams in weight here, explaining to Mummy what the venom pump is for, and also how I will manage with only one wet wipe per day to clean myself with.  The difference between this time preparing for the desert and the last two times is having Mummy watch me pack my kit.  It’s the look of horror on her face when I say I only need one pair of pants for the whole week that makes it all worthwhile!  We are having a lot of giggles interspersed with her saying every so often “I’m so worried about you, I don’t know why you want to put yourself through it all again!”

And that brings me to you, all my wonderful friends and family, supporters, colleagues old and new, and patients.  You have all been so wonderful in supporting me again, and helping me to raise money for Medecins Sans Frontieres – I am currently nearing £2,000 which is just fantastic, so thank you all so so much – you are all brilliant. If you would like to make a donation please go to http://www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Runhurryharryrun 

So, I fly up to London tonight and have the stylish luxury of staying in an airport hotel, as I am on the 7am flight to Ouazuarzat in Morocco.  There are two flights of runners after mine.  All my tent boys are on the second flight (Kevin, Aiden, Mark, Matt & Alastair).  On arrival in Morocco we then have a 5-6 hour bus drive to the bivouac. As first person from my tent to arrive it is my dubious responsibility to bags a good tent! No pressure!  We are fed by the race organisers on Friday evening, and all day on Saturday throughout which we have our admin & medical checks.  And then from Sunday 9th April we are self sufficient relying on whatever delicious nutrition we have deemed calorific and light enough to bring to the desert! MMMMmmmmm! Right now I am indulging on some local toast and mum’s homemade marmalade – and a very fine vintage it is this year!

From Sunday 9th April, when the race starts, you my good supporters will be able to follow the race live on line, and as technology has improved you will be able to follow me closely as I “run” through the desert, and cross each day’s finish line, where there is a web cam to capture those painful moments! Here is some blurb from the race organisers as to how follow me and the race:

My running number is 813

You will want to send supporting emails and track my progress during the race – you can do both of these via the organisers’ website:   live.marathondessables.com  and you can pre-register to follow me.

 HOWEVER, none of the facilities will go live until Saturday 8 April, so if you click on it now, you won’t find anything! Once they are live, the instructions are easy to follow. You will need my running number for the email – number 813.  If you have any problems using the site, please call 08444 874064 and speak to Sarah in office hours.

All competitors are issued with a GPS tracker that will allow the staff on the course to track their position, to monitor if they are off course and it also has an SOS facility in the event of emergency. The GPS tracker also allows friends / family to track competitors progress in real-time. You should be aware, however, that on rare occasions the tracker may lose signal or have battery power issues. This is usually a short term issue and should not be a concern for anyone following the race. Runner’s positions are updated approximately every 10 minutes and it is not unusual for a competitors position to remain static for a while….!!!!
Please, please please send me an email during the race – it is a very important part of each day when we receive emails from back home.  I have kept all the messages I received in 2007 and 2012, and it is lovely to reread them and to know that for one week no one in my family did any work at all.  It is moving and nostalgic to read the messages my wonderful daddy sent me, and gives me an idea of what he might send me this time if he were here – although he probably thinks along the same lines as everyone else “bonkers”! 

I will be sending my one email a day to my brother Nick, who will post it here on my blog – so watch this space!

Right – I have to go and pack my rucksack one last time so signing off here and wishing you all lots of love….

Harryxxx

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Heating up for the desert….two weeks until MDS2017 (whoop whoop)

Finally, the temperatures this weekend have been soaring to about 18C out of the sea breeze, and there has been no rain! In fact it has felt positively Saharan, well almost, give or take about another 15-20degrees.

But, seriously, compared to last weekend it has been heaven to run in the sunshine and to have even needed to wear a bit of sunscreen!

My long runs this weekend and last weekend took on the same path from Rock along the beaches towards Daymer Bay, up onto the Greenaway cliffs, across Polzeath Beach and then heading out along the coastal path towards The Rumps, Pentire and along towards Port Quin.  It is the most beautiful run no matter what the weather.  However, along with the weather, each time I run this route it is always different.  Last week as I rounded the corner towards the Rumps, and decided to head out to the dip between the two Rumps to wave to Daddy, I saw a fire engine.  This is not the most anticipated of things to see as you come raround this particular headland.  Before I saw the fire engine,  I did come across this somewhat stubborn and immoveable obstacle:

Well, they are quite tame pregnant ladies, and after a friendly pat on the nose, I ran on and so encountered the fire engine. So it turned out that the fire engine, was part of a larger group which included the coast guard and special animal units of each, and the local farmer.  This excitement and activity was due to one of these silly cows who had fallen down the cliff into the sea.  


She had spent the whole night down on the rocks as rescue attempts were hampered overnight by high tides, and then to cap it all, the silly cow swam to a small island which they couldn’t get a boat to.  So all in all it was quite a mammoth rescue attempt, but she was eventually winched back to safety up on the cliff tops where she happily scampered off and munched on the luscious green grass.  But judging by the site that met me yesterday morning as I rounded the headland towards the Rumps it might not be the last time one of these pregnancy ladies flies too close to the wind.  They are either very stupid or the grass in certain areas is out of this world:


Still, I don’t blame her…the sun was shining, the gorse is blooming…

and the sea is glistening like diamonds…


Ah, the desert is beckoning. Endless sunshine, sand dunes, blue skies, and camels instead of cows! (must not think about blisters, wearing the same clothes for a week, carrying a rucksack, and living off freeze dried food)! 

So I have reached £1000 in fundraising for MSF so far which is utterly fantastic. I simply cannot believe how wonderfully generous everyone is being – you are all amazing, and I am so very very grateful. Every little bit of support will help to motivate me up and down each sand dune, jebel and across each plain.  Although, don’t think I haven’t picked up on the theme of comments you leave on your donations – “I’m insane” seems to be a recurring theme!!!!!

I’m beginning to concoct my desert playlist – I’m not a big fan of running to music, but it is essential I have discovered in the desert to have a backup of some music to pick up the old pace when all other motivations are failing.  Rag’n’Bone Man has become my running mojo this time, cos after all folks when the going gets tough “I’m only Human after all!”But any y other recommendations are welcome….

I will be emailing out soon the link via which you will be able to send me messages in the desert – of encouragement, abuse, mockery, motivation – any message will be greatly received and will definitely stop me falling down a cliff in a Cornish cow style!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One month until stage 1 of the MDS 2017

There it is…in one month’s time I should hopefully be tucked up in my sleeping bag, (it gets dark early in the desert), having eaten a delicious freeze dried meal of shepherd’s pie and a mug of rooibos tea!  I hopefully won’t have developed any drastic blisters on day one and there should be some good banter in and around the tents with other runners from the Uk and around the world…I am still establishing my tent mates but slightly winging it this year.

So, as more people at work become aware that I am taking on this “ridiculous” race (not my words), it is time to put it out there as to why I am running the Marathon des Sables for a third time.  Well, firstly, I decided back in 2007 that it would be a fun thing to try and do every 5 years, and secondly, well it is one of the most beautiful places in the world that I have ever been to, and two of the most amazing and memorable weeks of my life I have ever spent – the first time was the catalyst that led me to becoming a nurse, so you never know what might happen.  But also, I do feel that I need a really good challenge to once again ask people to sponsor me for a good cause – and I think the cause I am running for this time is rather special.

It is nearly 8 months since I moved to Cornwall to work at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust in Truro in oncology nursing and it has been and continues to be a massive adventure. Each day at work is different, fun, sad, tough, rewarding and I am lucky to be working with a wonderful team of nurses and looking after an extraordinary group of patients.  I am frequently asked by many of my patients what do I miss about living in London. Whilst there is very little that I miss, I do miss the rich cultural diversity of London that on a daily basis has the ability to remind you that your neighbours are not just those that you live next door to, but those who might be millions of miles away in war torn countries, & less privileged countries. It is all too easy living down here in Cornwall to forget the rest of the world or sometimes even the rest of the country. 

So when I embark in one month’s time heading off somewhere across the Sahara Desert to run 150miles over 6 days in what is still rightly billed as The Toughtest Footrace on Earth, the Marathon des Sables 2017, what will hopefully be motivating me and inspiring me to keep running, putting one foot in front of the other, to share rudimentary sleeping quarters with about 7 other runners, to carry my life on my back through the heat, is that I will be running for Medecins Sans Frontieres. (Doctors withou Borders).

Working for the NHS in the current climate is definitely a daily challenge. I am privileged enough to have worked in one of the most wonderful and efficient hospitals in the UK – Guy’s & St Thomas’s in London. The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro is no less wonderful but I am far more aware of the strains on the NHS and the services we supply to the public. In my department we have people on waiting lists for chemotherapy treatment because we simply don’t have the resources to see them all as they need it – there just aren’t enough hours in the day or enough trained nurses.  But today, we only have to turn on the tv, or read something on Twitter or some other social media to know that even in the cash strapped chaos of the NHS that we are still so lucky. There are people in places that aren’t even reported about that don’t have access to the medical facilities we have.  

Medecins Sans Frontieres go where most other aid agencies won’t or cannot go, they often have such meagre facilities to work with but they still carry on. They often work in war torn cities such as Aleppo in the middle of bombing raids and still carry on. Hospitals they work in are targeted and hit, and they still go back, they still carry on. They work with refugees and migrants all over the world and treat each and every human being as precious and valuable and with respect. I sadly overheard someone say recently that all refugees coming to the UK should be sent back where they came from and that we didn’t need them here and I felt so sad to hear a fellow Brit have that opinion. We have so much, and if someone thinks that it is worth the risk crossing treacherous seas in barely seaworthy boats to seek refuge or a better life, to end up in a squalid camp or asylum seeker’s centre then it feels like we haven’t progressed much since WWII.  

It would be so easy to raise money for a UK based charity but I hope you will feel as I do that our neighbours are all around the world and with famine, disease, war and political unrest in so many parts of the world giving healthcare to those that don’t easily have access to the most basic medical care is a worthy cause. The healthcare workers who work for Medecins Sans Frontieres are an incredible bunch and do incredible work. They inspire me everyday to be the best nurse I can be and I hope somewhere down the line I might get to work for them – but for now I just hope to raise as much as I can to help them in their valuable work and I hope that by doing something as crazy as a third Marathon des Sables you might be inspired to sponsor me – it will definitely motivate me up those sand dunes!
To sponsor me please go to my fundraising page:

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/Runhurryharryrun 

Thank you so so much.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What’s a little run in the rain…bring on the desert please! MDS2017.

So last week’s training was in bright chilly springlike sunshine with a 19-20mile run from Greenaway to Port Isaac up and down the hills on the north Cornish coastal path, discovering that I don’t really like blueberry flavoured energy drinks:


With the sea turquoise blue in places reflecting the bright blue sky.  The wind would drop around some dips and bends in between cliffs and then would wip up into a frenzy.  I’m not normally one for putting on the winter layers when I run, but my ears were distinctly pleased to cover up!  And in the spring sunshine always just around the corner is a spectacular site like this:


…with no one in site.  And then around the next bend especially towards Port Isaac you hit the dreaded steps….

..and they seem to go on an on forever.  The odd cow always seems wryly amused or more likely completely disinterested as I “gallop” past, although I feel more like a tired pack horse rather than a nimble race horse.

Today however the weather was distinctly inclement and at times visibility was pretty low, and where last week the sun had dried out a lot of the mud it was a rather slip sliding affair.  Mud you might say is good training for the sand dunes as you slip in it just as much as on the loose fine dunes in the desert, but it is definitely more treacherous and the cows have a lot to answer for where they churn it up around styles and gates…


A bit wet on the run today – ears glad of buff covering again keeping out the very misty sea rain.

It’s always ironic whilst out on my long runs, you don’t see another person walking or running for miles, so I think I am safe to side step off the path, squat down and have a quick pee, but sod’s law, there is always someone coming just as I am pulling up my pants! The other ironic or more annoying occurrence is what happens when you do meet other people out on the path.  Last week, quite near towards the end of my run as I rounded the cliffs back towards Polzeath it is a lovely down hill section, but there is a sudden uphill section that is quite steep and involves a few steps.  Of course as I hit the end of the downhill section, I meet a family group with young teenagers, parents etc…who all comment “well done” and stand to the side as I go past.  I know they are watching me so I have to then continue running up the steps and forthcoming cliff path until I am out of sight! After 18 miles that is quite exhausting – but alas all we runners have our stupid pride!

Running across the sand towards Rock today at the end of my run, I have to confess the prospect of a Sunday roast in Blisland Pub with my mother and sister was a very warming and welcome thought!

Just over a month to the Sahara desert…simply can’t wait!  And the good news is that my wonderful local cobbler is going to rise to the challenge of securing my desert gaiters to my trainers, even if he did look somewhat bemused at my request!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized