Mark Gillett

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MDS Roundup

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MDS 2013 Roundup

This years MDS was as unique as any. I suppose the only constant is the toughness. There were new faces, returning faces, young faces, and old faces. There were race winners and life winners and those who did not make the end. But without doubt everyone will go home with an experience of a lifetime.

Patrick Bauer's Briefing

Patrick Bauer’s Briefing

Covering the MDS has always been a real pleasure for me. Not because of the race but more for what the desert throws up at us. It strips us back to the raw. Show us who we really are. It then asks us to live it in a way no other environment I have visited has ever achieved. This bit I still cannot explain but if you ever have the privelege to spend time with bedouin, you will find no truer human beings.

I have travelled to deserts for 30 years now. Made private expeditions, taken children across them, many adults to the Middle East Empty Quarter and I have run the MDS as well as returned for the last 7 years to photograph it. It never disappoints. 

This years emotional highs and lows for the runners were many. Day three was one of the toughest I have seen. The long day was brutally hot. The changes of the final stage messed with many in their heads. And the witnessing of a blind man, Didier Benguigui, refuse the abandon orders of the organisation and carry on walking to the finish put everything into perspective.

IMG_1168But the MDS is not about the race for everyone. There are many who just wish to finish and for them it is just as important. The challenge is just as huge no matter the reason and in 7 years I have never seen any consistency in reasons to run the MDS… So if you are just after a buzz, having a midlife crisis, lost someone close to you, reached all your challenges in life so far, or just because… All are great reasons to go and see what the desert can give you. And there is no better place than the MDS.

For me, media is an ever changing world. There is more reporting for blogs and social media than old traditional methods. I just did a MDS search on line and even the TV production outlets are online rather than TV. Youtube being the main ‘grabber” or portal for information. TelegraphTV for example. Also found some of Fox News footage online.

Features are great and those happen later in the year often or even leading up to the next MDS. But instant stories are what people want to read on their iPhones, tablets or computers. Facebook has now become a real news tool for many people and it adds a personal element and one where everyone can take part and have their say. The Marathon des Sables must embrace this soon as it was particularly difficult to get media out during the race.

This year was the first time I reported for blogs and now I am blogging myself and passing out reports to all sorts of media.

The reporting on top runners has been a real pleasure for me coming from a competitive sport background and to see such high performance attitudes as I witnessed in Mohamad, Samir and Lhoucine was a pleasure. Mohamad’s leading was impeccable with the only real work for him being to set an example. This

The WInning Ladies

The WInning Ladies

he does flawlessly and those who run with him can only benefit. Lhoucine was slightly injured early on but this was thrown aside and he pushed on and hard every day. And for Samir, well, what a beautiful person. Always smiling, always laughing and always pushing for the team. Team UVU won their race because of all three members. And its quite a formidable team. Well done and thank you for a pleasurable week to every runner who took part.

For me, I have to see if I run or report next time I go to the desert.

Another small gallery

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