Mark Gillett

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Posts Tagged ‘Travel

Marathon Des Sables Time

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MDS Dunes

The Desert – Somewhere to Enjoy

I am sure there are many of you out there starting to get a little nervous about your last 12 weeks before the start of your MDS. I know exactly where you are at so just keep believing and training up to departure. Remember that tapering is no use, gathering calories does not work, go light, pack light and take the food you need. You have everything else to succeed and no reason to fail. You have water, shelter and food. The rest is in your head! Here is a little piece just published.. Good luck!!

http://www.sidetracked.com/marathon-des-sables/

Mark

Written by markgillett

January 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm

The Running World Challenges and Changes

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Over the last 5 or 6 years I have seen huge waves of change in the running world. Just 15 years ago the challenge was a city marathon, New York, London, Dublin or one of the many around the world. The mega challenge was the UTMB or the Marathon des Sables.. Then popped up a few more copies of the MDS format like the four deserts, Jungle Marathon and a few others that came and went or still fumble by. And when you had completed one of these the next challenge seemed to be a 600km non stop or one of the Poles. Or even Everest.

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Yukon Quest – 1000 miles of -40 degrees

But now the landscape has changed so massively that those big challenges have become or are becoming the new norm and the professionalisation of some of the ultra world races in terms of competitors and sponsors is just so great to witness. No longer is the MDS the ultimate or the UTMB the toughest out there. They are certainly tough but with 2300 runners competing this years event and the MDS reaching 1200 and rising to 1500 runners in 2015, these are more catering to the masses on a tour basis.  Everest is about booking your trip and being guided up by an expert. The MDS is 1500 runners shipped by bus to the desert, fed, wined and dined for three days, run and shipped back for some R&R in a hotel. 2300 in the UTMB is certainly a good money spinner! City Marathons at over 30,000 runners. Although its good to see so many people active, these events are not cheap with Everest at 50k average, stage races like the 4 deserts and MDS at around 4k per runner. All very good business for the races but really cater to very few who can afford or jump on the charity wagon.

However, during my cycling hours through the streets of london, I see people running these equivalents in a week or so on their way to work. People cycling 20, 30km or more a day just for commuting.  How things have changed!

MDS from the air

I have watched my FB newsfeed with interest this summer. In particular the events covered by iRunFar and Ian Corless at Talk Ultra. I have seen a new breed of tough race and some of the toughest races out there being run by real competitors. Races that have good sponsorship behind them, tough competitors and professional runners. But the top are truly in a league of their own. Marathons have become their training runs, stage races their warm ups or ignored altogether as not worth it. And now mountain trails, non stop 100 mile races and more extreme races are the new challenge. Some runners are completing these running sub 3 hours marathon times. A truly different level. Races like the lakeland100 in UK are now seen as much harder to run. I cover the Yukon Quest which is truly a man challenge not to be ignored. There are cycling challenges everywhere and the growing number of city dwellers now running or cycling to work is growing so fast that city councils do not know how to manage the change. Or how to make money form them yet!

This does not detract from the toughness of a desert race. Heat is a killer. Or the challenge of the humidity of a jungle race and freezing cold of the arctic. But it does make some of these races more the norm.

Jungle Marathon 08

Jungle Marathon, Amazon

So what does this tell us? For me I see it as all positive. More races means more competition which in turn leads to better and safer races. It leads to more choice, more destinations. It weeds out the poor races or those that maybe unsafe. But more importantly it also means the creative can be more adventurous and dream up something that is so different that we are presented with a new “MDS” for the next 25 years. And I truly believe this will happen. There will be another mysterious, man challenging event that emerges. A race that entices because so few have done it. A race that people can run and really feel they have done something that the masses have not. Something I felt when I first heard about the MDS back in the 80′s…

I really look forward to the next few years to see what arises. What I might be involved in media wise. What I might even find I want to challenge myself with.

Written by markgillett

September 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

Marathon des Sables – A Picture Story

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This is a portfolio of the Marathon des Sables 2013… Click the “more” to see all the images.

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Marathon des Sables 2013

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This is now my 7th Marathon des Sables and as usual it was very unique. The format was slightly changed which disturbed a few people but I think this will settle down soon and people will accept it in its new form. But this was just a tiny part of the MDS. What really makes this race is the people and the colour they bring each year. The emotions were running fully from start to end.

Stage 2 was one of the toughest I have seen for a while and the heat really kicked in from stage 3 reach the high forties in the sun. Sometimes fifties. The race provided many faces as usual. Some of sheer pain and some of sheer joy but all full of a human’s most powerful emotions.

As a photographer this year I was extremely busy but no more or less than normal. We could not get out much during the race but over the next few days I will be able to catch up with some specific stories, write my press articles and get back in touch with some of those beautiful times of the last 7 days.

If this is a race that is in your mind to do, dont hold back. Go to http://www.marathondessables.co.uk and sign up. I believe anyone can do this race but there has to be a want.

Here are a few images from the week..

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The 1000 Mile Yukon Quest Starts

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http://on.fb.me/12jgTbH

The Quest finally got underway today and it was warmer than any year I have attended… Out car read 1 degree on the way to Braeburn.

Here are a few photos and I will blog post stories as they emerge.. For today it was just important to get the first images out. We are now at Braeburn editing, posting and creating our first short video for the race….. The first mushers are due in around 11pm so it could be a long night… Posts coming…

Written by markgillett

February 3, 2013 at 2:40 am

Oman, Truly Raw.

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We are all now back from Oman and the filming project. New Year has passed and the tree will come down this weekend. We also have a puppy to collect! ha…

This last week in Muscat and nearby places has been more beautiful than I could have imagined. The work element was just a privilege and over the next two weeks you will see some of the work released. Other bits you unfortunately will not see but I can assure you it was very special and very beautiful.

But as usual it was not the work or place, alone that made it so special but the people who I was with, met and reunited with that gave me so many memories that photography and filming can never do justice to to. I have always advocated that a photographer does not need a camera or video. Its more about what you “notice” and not what you see or capture.. The camera is just a tool to share that beauty.

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Emily and Becky

My daughter was blown away. A little scared at first when we wandered the souk for the staring eyes unsettled her. But not for long as we talked to shopkeepers and photographed our way with ease. She began to relax until we had a chai in a shop that maybe alone she would not have dreamt of entering…. I chatted to two Bangladeshi men who were delightful and we ordered some bites to eat. More and more Emily and her friend Becky could see the peace and respect that the people had for each other as well as themselves. How friendly everyone is. But also how the staring is merely an inquisitive nature that we all possess when presented with something so different before our eyes…

We met with some old friends who hosted us one evening…… This was one of my most memorable times this last week.

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Royal Race Day – Backstage

Our filming also allowed us many privileges. We filmed horses running in the sea at sunrise, rehearsals of the Royal Cavalry for the Royal Race Day and were permitted access to a different part of Oman. A part equally beautiful, and equally friendly and trusting. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by markgillett

January 4, 2013 at 9:05 am

2012 And The Year Ahead…..

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I just came down my stairs this morning full of thoughts about the last year, people I had met and places I had been to.. I wrote to the closest person in my life all these fleeting thoughts to share them… And then I thought I would share a few here…

I have been so lucky for so long even if not always realising it. But one thing I hold dear is the the world we live and the people who make up that world.. In all my travels these last years I have met the most fantastic people in so many parts of the world. This morning I woke to an email form Friends in Yellowstone, a text from the top of Jebel Shams in Oman, a reply about a project in Kampala from a great friend in the US, a message from Madrid where a friend is realising her business dreams and last night I spent time on the phone to AK to sort some of my next project detail with a guy who really has become a great friend too….. Scott.

The last year has seen so many good projects happen but more important are the many relationships I have built along the way.. From the Yukon to the Sahara, Kuwait and Madrid to Cairo and Oman. I met up with my old friend of 28 years ago, Bob Brinker and his wife with a surprise party in Munich.. And I travelled back to another party in Paris of someone very special too…

The above video is just a snap shot of the year we have had making short films.. I have coached a few people around the world too and its been so good to watch their success along the way.. All with so much hard work attached and not always an easy road..

2013 will be another year of coaching and filming projects.. Some carrying on from 2012, some new. But this time next year you will see a different showreel. One that will see our first full length productions come to fruition. One that looks into the lives of some very special people in this world…

I would like to wish everyone who reads my blog, everyone I know or have come into contact with, a great Christmas and a beautiful 2013 and I would like to thank everyone who has worked these projects with me, put up with my grumpy 50 year old bits and given me huge smiles.. In order of projects, Tom, Ariel, Scott, Emily, Rob, Romain, Maite, Brett, Tracey, Becky, Angela, Chloe, Tez, Ines, Teresa, Alfonso, Jaime, All those at Street Child in Seirra Leone and to everyone who has allowed us to film, employed us, been a part of those projects or just simply bumped into us annoying everyone with GoPro’s and DSLR’s… And of course my daughter Emily for letting me be me!

A few more vids are here https://vimeo.com/user11352453

Cairo Ramblings Continued

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My time in Cairo has come to an end. I spent my last day wandering the city again. I have to say I had no desire to visit some of the sights that I perhaps should have but the real city life is what I wanted to see.

I caught my bus to the centre, got a short taxi ride, then walked most of the day. I found myself never going more than a kilometre or so before stopping for a tea, or shwarma.

Streets of Hussein Azhar

Streets of Hussein Azhar

I then found myself talking to some great people…

One shopkeeper told me how slow the business is right now. Read the rest of this entry »

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December 14, 2012 at 12:46 am

Cairo Ramblings

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If I were going to LA people would say, “have a good time”, When I told people I was coming to Cairo they said “Stay safe!” however is LA I would fear being out alone after dark, being shot, raped or mugged, and would have a hell of a time at the Airport. Cairo? Read on……

Now I know you cant judge a country on a few hours but I have…I’ve now reached 50, so I can. Ha!

Its all a bit surreal.. tired and back in the Middle East but North Africa this time… I arrived in Cairo by bus from Sharm. The road was fast and the journey so easy. One stop for food and one for a police check, nod off and wake up in Cairo.

On the flight I spoke to two passengers next to me who asked where I was going.. when I told them Cairo, their immediate reaction was “oh? thats off limits. No flights in or out”. I couldn’t believe that they had heard the Foreign Office had stopped flights.. My bus was pretty full and everyone was friendly.. Asked where I was going and helped if they could..I paid my €8.

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December 9, 2012 at 11:57 am

Marathon des Sables 2013 – Stories

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It’s that time of year again when all the MDS runners start to think seriously about what they have signed up for… “have I done enough training”, “Am I doing enough training”, “Oh God, what have I done”…… And so on.

But its a great time to as the next 16 weeks gives you some of your best training opportunities. With time off during the holidays and good food around, running for a few hours in the hills just makes it all such a pleasure.

Everyone who runs the MDS has a story. Some of them may seem quite simple some quite amazing but they are all stories and important to the person they belong to.

I thought I’d post this showreel from last year and also invite any runners with good stories to get in touch… I have a few commissions already but would like to hear your story if you are willing to tell it…  I can help you document it if you need me to… Some I will post here, some I will pitch to the press. Some I will leave… However, they do all matter.

Here is a teaser to keep you going and do a search here for MDS stuff. There is plenty to read under “coaching” Marathon des Sables” “Endurance” and “adventure”

 

 

Written by markgillett

November 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

African Safari DSLR Workshop Link

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Here is the link to the African Safari Workshop… It really is a unique poortunity to join Rebecca and myself in South Africa.

http://rebeccahartmedia.photodeck.com/safari-workshops#

Written by markgillett

July 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

African Safari DSLR and GoPro Workshop

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I have now finalised the African Safari DSLR workshop thanks to Rebecca Hart who worked so hard to pull together much of the information for the trip.

We will work together on personal filming projects and are inviting participants to join us, work alongside and learn from the workshop sessions between game drives and bush walks that I will deliver during the time on Safari.

All the details are in this document – African Safari Workshop – so please contact me/us if you are interested in joining the trip.

Sierra Leone Images

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Written by markgillett

June 28, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Sierra Leone…

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I finally finished my two Sierra Leone edits… What a joy to do.

Sierra Leone had, for a long time, been one of those destinations I have wanted to reach. I have seen horrendous reports of war, expedition logs from friends, charity banners, all sorts of stuff and I just needed to go to see for myself, and now I am not sure why it took so long….

But even so, when I was asked if I would go my initial response was “no.  Not unless you can find a commission fee.” Because at the time my head was too full, charity was not a priority and I just could afford to do it “on my own dime”… Also, charity in Africa has always been a contentious issue for me so to go and give when I was not willing simply didn’t make sense.

A month went by and SuitCase finished filming and photographing at the Diamond Jubilee in Windsor and I was exhausted…. I wanted a break. A holiday, some time in the sun and without any stress, maybe relaxing on the beach…. I pondered a few destinations, Morocco, LA, Scillies (too cold, though) but nothing grabbed me….  And then on about the third evening of no Jubilee, tapping my fingers or twiddling my thumbs, I called Lewis Alderidge, one of the organisers of the Sierra Leone Marathon.. The person who had called a month or so earlier…. “So! tell me more” was pretty much all I said to him…. Lewis “rabbited” (don’t take offence mate..) on for about 30 minutes but what he didn’t know was that I was sold in the first 15 seconds….

In short, I told him I would go if they found my flight and ground costs and I would provide images and a short 3 minute film for YouTube. I was very clear and said that I couldn’t afford to fund myself and I wanted a break…. Africa sounded like a good idea. Charity was not in my head but if it gave me a week away and I could help them a bit, I was up for it…. [Is that harsh?]

Anyway, he confirmed, booked my ticket and I prepped for it the night before going. Oh apart form the jabs I needed…

In all seriousness I was delighted to be going… I did think I would have a few days photographing the coast which I had read so much about but it turned out differently..  As with all charities they needed to get me everywhere.. To see everything. Film the lot and photograph a gazillion children in school and so on. They needed blood. But then that is what they do well.

As soon as we landed, my visions and memories were quite bluntly yet beautifully taken back 20 years to when I went to Nigeria.. I have visited South Africa and Kenya also but this was different. Raw in every sense. Nothing had changed in 20 years… The airport had its damp musty smell, bars on windows and unpainted walls, masses of people outside waiting to get your bags, take you to the hotel that paid them the most commission, or just stare at you as you walked through the doors to the outside humidity and mass of more people.

I was back in Africa and hadn’t realised how much I had missed it. How much it hit every sense I had. I stood happily for around two hours just waiting to find out where we were going. Stood and watched the organised mayhem that Africa is.

Eventually we were bustled onto three buses and taken to the ferry across to Freetown. Our truck made it on but the big one got stuck at the ramp. Not that anyone was bothered. The shouting began between the driver and boat people. But not in a nasty way. Just the way they discuss this stuff… Who was pushing, who was driving and who was propping up the back wheels to in order to get the bus on the boat…  I photographed it along with everything else I saw… The people on the boat, the runners who had travelled with me for the Marathon. Everyone sweating profusely but just accepting that this is Africa.

Eventually we sailed, beers were consumed and the journey really got underway.

I will leave you there for now and let the videos tell the story….  I thoroughly enjoyed working for this charity and would do it again… Street Child do a great but most importantly and honest job of getting education to kids and kids off the street into families… they gave me back my faith in charity done well…  Kiln who sponsored the race were the perfect match for the event and their runners did a great job in raising lots of needed cash too…

The Sierra Leoneon people are perhaps the most beautiful I have met for a long time.. They have true soul. A happiness we are missing so much in our own youth and a deep beauty I just can’t explain. So go, experience it and love it for what it is… And if you can help the charity, then give a little bit too..

I hope you enjoy the videos.

MDS 2012 – Next Story of Human Endurance

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Well, if you followed us at the Yukon Quest and loved that then follow us at the Marathon des Sables in April.

This mountain of a race takes part in the Sahara Desert from 7th April. You will need to add me as a friend on Facebook, “Like” the MDS page and “Friend” the UK MDS page It’s best to do all three.

The race is 250 Km through the Sahara and runners carry all their own gear and food for 7 days.. It is run over 6 stages looking a little like this… Day 1 – 28km, day 2 – 35km, day 3 – 38km, day 4/5 – a huge 80km, day 6 – 42km and day 7 – 21km.. So pretty damn tough.

Runners will battle temperatures of up to 50 degrees, blisters and soreness like never before, total exhaustion and inevitably some will drop out… They cover sand dunes that go for ever, mountains and valley salt flats on a daily basis. This years race will be as exciting as ever so go to those FB sites and follow it through here…

We will for the first time be filming it with GoPro and mobile cams and uploading to the social networks as we go along… Images will also be uploaded to the official site on a daily basis…  I will upload blogs for the English-speaking runners and supporters and other reports can be seen on the official site www.darbaroud.com and the Facebook pages mentioned earlier… There is no shortage of information coming out of the desert from the 7th April. No excuse not know what happening deep in the Sahara.

Search this site for older articles from previous years to get a flavour.. It’s the toughest footrace on earth.

A Piece of My Heart

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I have never seen the moon as in I did in Yukon

I left Whitehorse two weeks back after spending three weeks following the Yukon Quest. Now I sit in a cafe working through images, planning for my next adventure, planning for the new business SuitCase Media & Productions. Well, not necessarily new but the growth of my business and who I actually am.

But this part of the world, North America, has really stolen a piece of my heart. The land, the skies and the people.. I fell in love with Alaska and the Yukon.

I have tried to put my finger on what it is as I have travelled to some pretty great places over the last 30 years. I have seen most of the world and many cultures… I have fallen in love with many places but on a different level. It’s almost like I was at home when following the Quest.

I love the way people live. Purchasing things that were necessary not as here in the malls where you can buy a gazillion things you don’t need. Clothes to fill your already full wardrobe, covers for your phone for which some people must have a separate wardrobe too, another pair of shoes for Wednesdays! All rubbish, all fashion but not necessary.

What I noticed in Alaska and Yukon was that everyone had a truck because they needed one. Needed it to carry the wood for the fire. A beautiful fire but a necessary one. Many have a skidoo for the same. They need it for their livelihood to to get about. Shops in the main street sell goods that are necessary and in Whitehorse the exceptions were goods for tourists which provides and income for the residents.

But more than this too there is a cosmopolitan feel to Whitehorse. People from around the world and all ages. A good youth culture and a feeling of modernity without brash flashiness. As I walked the streets during my last days it was beginning to warm up and I wanted to stay behind to witness Spring. To see the rivers break. I imagined getting back to Dawson to see the ice bridge break up and the hills come alive with the sun. And see the carnival atmosphere of the towns when Spring finally takes hold.

I did not stay, though, and am now in UK and off to Paris tomorrow. Then Barcelona on Tuesday. Both beautiful places that many people dream to visit so I am grateful for everything I have and everywhere I have been, and the piece of my heart I left in North America will still be there when I return. I hope that will be soon and I have many people I would like to meet up with again.

A final note is “good luck” to Lance,, Brent, Kristy and Hugh Neff in the Iditarod..  I don’t think I left anyone out.

Written by markgillett

March 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

The Yukon Quest – A Goose Eve

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Here is a piece I recently wrote to finalise my Quest trip… I will repost it here in a few days too…

http://bit.ly/yq3NLS

Yukon Quest Latest Video

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February 11, 2012 at 2:14 am

Dawson City… Yukon Quest Halfway Post

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Images of Dawson and our time in the City….

We are now into our last day in Dawson City and I find myself not wanting to move on. Its a beautiful town at the base of Midnight Dome on the Yukon river. This time of year the river is frozen over and bridges to the community on the other bank but come spring the bridge disappears and only with a long drive can you get you to the other side… The town is made up of traditional western style buildings and walking the streets brings back memories of series like The Virginian and High Chaparelle. Its the most gorgeous city and not one to spend only a few days in.

Our hotel, the El Dorado is typical with a large bar, simple dining and pool tables at the back. There is also the Downtown and for eating the best lace in town must be the Drunken Goat whee the food is just perfect.

Its now -20 degrees and in a few months the river will flow again, the paddle steamer will fill with tourists and the hills will be a lush green with hikers and walkers roaming the paths.. I want to come back and see the spectacle of the river breaking and spring taking hold but know I won’t have time this year. Perhaps next.

Now my mind is back on the Yukon Quest and getting our images out for the organisation and the videos made to help promote the race. A race that is now well and truly in my blood.

Written by markgillett

February 11, 2012 at 1:37 am

Yukon Quest….. A Wow! Event.

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The relatively little known Yukon Quest is one of the most powerful events I have witnessed.

I am here in the Yukon, Dawson City to be precise, and have travelled from Kuwait to London then Fairbanks to get here… Our (photography team) remit? to cover the Yukon Quest providing top notch images and GoPro video of the competitors……

I have been sucked in to this race already and cannot believe the performance of the mushers.. Tough, focussed, and basically the hardest human beings I have met.

They set off from Fairbanks on a 1000 mile quest to reach Whitehorse sledding with their teams throughout the beautiful but hostile wilderness of the Alaskan and Yukon Arctic. There are checkpoints and food along the way but many of them elect to sleep out, care for their dogs and keep moving rather than succumb to the warmth of a cabin for a few hours… With temperatures usually below -20c and often to -40c or colder this is an unbelievable race to witness.

I am now in Dawson City the half way point and where the teams must break for 36 hours before the final leg to Whitehorse. We are currently GoProing up the city, the start line and anything that moves.. Our first production can be seen on the previous post so check that awesome piece of work edited by Tom Barber…. Images above…. and on my Facebook and the Yukon Quest Facebook….

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