Running – My Story & Tips for Endurance, Heat & Desert Events (2)

The image that I think comes to many people’s minds when there is talk of running in the desert, springs from pictures that they have seen of a camel train plodding in single file through soft golden sands.  They then have an image of someone trying to run through these soft sands, remembering how they have trudged through soft sand at the beach. Now add to that image the fact that this runner is wearing a backpack weighing a few kilograms, and that it is a distance of 40 odd kilometres and more, or that it could be a multi-day run so they will be doing this for a few days in a row.

It has been my experience that telling people that I have done a run of this sort usually gets three types of immediate response.  I mention this because this response profile is true for everything in life. There are those whose own experiences in life (they are not runners and not the exercising type), combined with their immediate perceptions about me, make them unable to believe that it is possible, and so they reject my story as being untrue.  At the other end of the spectrum are those who have had similar experiences, and knowing a bit, or a lot, about me, they are congratulatory and impressed. In between these two groups are those who are willing to believe that it is possible, but they either need to gather more information first before accepting the story, so they will ask questions, or, they need to change my story in their minds to be able to make it acceptable to them.  Examples of this are, that they might believe that I have done this kind of run but probably 20 years ago and, one that I have often had happen when I tell people that I ran across Africa, they will say, “congratulations on your walk.”

Now let me burst a little the myth of the first paragraph above.  There are many, many areas in a desert that are not soft sand. The fact that there is no water in the region doesn’t always mean that everything is soft sand.  One of the runs that I have done was the 5-day Namib Desert Challenge. Yes, there is a lot of sand out there including the longest sand dune in the world, and the highest sand dune in the world, and we ran them both, but for quite a fair distance of the 5 days it was not soft, sliding sand.

More about this and the run in my next article, Blog 3 in this series.

Jon O’Hanlon