In a previous blog post we introduced Adam Ball, a Mango Bikes Single Speed and Point AR rider who put his mind and body to the test by running the Marathon De Sables, the "Toughest Footrace on Earth". Adam became a Deliveroo rider in his spare time to selflessly donate all of his earnings to Hope for Children, the cause he chose to run for. We caught up a few days ago to see how everything went, what the training consisted of, and what the toughest moments of the race were.
Aside from riding with Deliveroo, what did an average week of training for the Marathon look like?
Spinning twice a day for around 40 - 60 minutes each time for weekdays for 3 months leading up to the event. Both in a down jacket with heating and fire on full. 10 mile run every weekend. I had an injury on my foot therefore running aggravated it so I couldn't as much running in as I would have liked to. But the cycling got me physically in very good fitness just my feet hadn't has the battering they required to cover the 150 miles.
I assume you wouldn’t have eaten many Deliveroo orders yourself, so what did your training diet consist of?
High carbohydrate diet for the month leading up to the event, pasta daily. For the week leading up to the event 4000 kcal per day diet consisting of a block of soreen per day and 4 meals. Also 1.5 litres of beetroot juice per day leading up to the event for a week to help increase red blood cell count.
In the days leading up to the start of the race, what was on your mind the most? The terrain? The limited water access? The scorpions and horned vipers?!
Mainly thoughts about the extremes and how my body would adapt in the condition. Unclear to what the temperature would be and how limited the water supply actually is. Terrain was an issue as well, but I tried to make myself super busy in the two week lead to not enable myself to worry. People around do a lot of worrying as well and I was relieved when I finally got on the plane to Morocco.
What was the most challenging moment of the race for you?
Go into the night on the long day. By the time I got to the long day my feet were in agony and even walking on them was difficult. I was looking forward to going across the desert at night to get relief from the sun, but when the sun went down it was very difficult in many aspects. Seeing where I was going was tough, overcoming the tiredness was difficult, and at times it got very lonely in the middle of the desert. This was by far the toughest time mentally and physically.
How did you feel when you crossed the line, and did you treat yourself to anything afterwards?
Relief. Pleased to not have to cover further distance on my feet as by this point I had ample toe blisters, heal blisters, missing toe nails, and pain from the prior football injury feeling like a fracture. Mentally you hit the finish line at the end of the long day. It's such a long slog that day, that when you get to the end, you cannot give up with only a marathon remaining. At the end of the final day there is a treat from the organisers, a cold cab of beer. It's like heaven.
Do you have advice for anyone else that might be interested in the race?
I would advise anyone to go and give it a go. It is amazing. The Sahara is something else. The event is all about maintaining your feet though, once they go it becomes a lot harder. In fact you must manage everything. You have to treat the environment with care and respect because otherwise you will suffer. On the day the temperature got to 58 degrees C, two people in my tent suffered from heat stroke and had to be put on IV drips. One guy had a heart attack (not in my tent) and one guy had to have his toe amputated (again not my tent), therefore you have to your whits about you and not push yourself too hard too soon.
Is there a next challenge?
The next challenge is the Transcontinental Race 2018. Somewhere between 3,200 to 4,200 km across Europe, self supported on my bicycle. But first I need to allow my feet to recover from the desert.