November 05, 2004

"The Sahara is not just the classic dunes of The English Patient. The majority of the running we did was over vast plains of sand, gravel and rocks the size of tennis balls... Blow a knee out on the overnight stage, and you’d have to pull your emergency flare to call the helicopter. Blow it in the middle of a plain, and you’d have to wait for a passing marshal’s Land Rover to pick you up...It was only the first day, and people were already being withdrawn by the doctors for foot trauma."

In April 2004, writer Ben Hammersley ran the Marathon des Sables, the world’s toughest foot race. "This is an account of those 7 days, 240 kilometres, 120 degrees and 28,000 calories of pain and joy." Oh, and by the way: Mr. Hammersley is also known as DangerIsMyMiddleName, one of Monkeyfilter's newest arrivals. I wonder what could possibly have inspired his logon name?

  • Is that right? Well done, Mr Hammersley, you are obviously completely mad.
  • ooh, cheers - It's been said, yes. Especially when I found out, afterwards, that I'd broken my ankle about halfway through. Actually, it was an awful lot of fun - though perhaps more so in hindsight than at the time. Still, I'd love to do it again. In the six months or so since, it's turned out to be quite the life changing experience. I don't really talk about it much in that piece, but there is definitely something to the "desert cleansing" that people talked about before the race started. I guess it's the same for any intensely arduous experience: once you push against your limits to that level, it becomes apparent that they aren't limits at all, just doors to some really cool stuff on the other side. I really need to be more poetic about that, but there you go.
  • You wonderful lunatic!
  • You crazy bastard. Brilliant story.
  • DangerIsMyMiddleName: that was totally sick and twisted. I like you.
  • I think I'll shut about about my puling injuries now. Holy howling fuck. What'd your ortho say on learning that you ran eighty miles on two torn ligaments?
  • I'd like to think I know a tiny bit about endorphins and how addicting they are and about working through pain to a place where it no longer matters if you hurt. But this is just insane. I have an immense respect for Danger and these other runners--finishers or not. The other idiotsextremists I admire are the Iditarod drivers. Gotta be way crazy to do that, too. I think I'll go ride my horsey.
  • A friend of mine used to train Iditarod dogs up north. At one point he was living alone on a little spot of land with 200 dogs. He'd agree with your assessment, Blue -- those guys are crazy. (He's actually toying with the idea of getting sponsorship to enter the race himself.)
  • this is incredible! years ago in morocco we dined with a very sunburned guy who had just motorcycled across the sahara. *that* had impressed me, *this* blows me away. absolutely stunning. i'm honored to have you among us, danger! many, many bananas to you. freeze-dried, so you can tuck them in your backpack for future adventures.
  • North Pole 2006 "In the Spring of 2006, I am walking, solo and unsupported, to the North Pole. This page will contain all the details of that trip...soon...." yowsa! something to look forward to indeed.
  • Well-written and profoundly appalling! If it is your thing, do it, by all means, but NOT running on broken bones has much to recomment it. Good luck with your recovery, Mr Hammersley.