4 May 2010
Ellis after conquering the 250km marathon
The Marathon Des Sables is a six day long endurance race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco and one of toughest and most gruelling foot-races in the world.
From 2 to 12 April, Ellis Bicknell, a local Fireman from Kidlington in Oxfordshire, took on this challenge of a lifetime and trekked across the Sahara Desert in the blistering heat to raise vital funds for people living with cancer.
This 151 mile long marathon through one of the most extreme landscapes on earth is not for the fainthearted. Not only does one section of the race cover a fifty mile stretch non-stop, but the competitors also have to carry everything they need for the duration of the journey on their backs – including food, clothing and bedding; which, on average for each competitor, is the equivalent to twenty bags of sugar.
The Sahara landscape varies from a stony flat expanse to perfect wind blown sand dunes that climb to 500 metres in height, broken only by the occasional oasis. There are a number of checkpoints throughout the route where (not surprisingly, warm) water is available.
Not forgetting the positive aspects of this exhausting and painful journey however - the feelings of space and solitude are simply awesome, and the sunsets and panoramic views are absolutely breathtaking.
With 2010’s race being this event’s 25th Anniversary; the distance set to walk was exactly 250km. Ellis managed to walk, and run, this arduous distance in an outstanding 38 hours 15 minutes and 14 seconds, finishing an impressive 184th out of 1014 starters, and even more impressively, 25th out of the 275 British participants.
‘It was a lot harder than I expected it to be!' admits Ellis. 'It was a mixture of the heat and terrain that made it so difficult. At certain points of the course the temperature reached as high as 47 degrees, although for most of the race it was between approximately 35-40. All I craved for was a can of cold diet coke every day!'
'I would like to say a big thank you to all of the people who have sponsored me and followed my progress online.'
To date, Ellis has managed to raise almost £5000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, which is a staggering amount and will help fund our vital services needed for people affected by cancer in Oxfordshire.
Ellis’ JustGiving page is justgiving.com/ellisbicknell - so to support this local hero’s amazing efforts and help him reach his £5000 target, please sponsor him whatever you can!
For more information on Morocco’s Marathon Des Sables please visit the UK site at saharamarathon.co.uk or alternatively visit the MdS official site at www.darbaroud.com