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Sea, Sand & Summit Challenge
Adam Jones is the first person to have finished the Marathon des Sables (MDS), summitted Mount Everest and completed a solo unsupported sea kayak across the Irish sea's North Channel from Scotland - Northern Ireland in under 12 months. He also raised over £12,000 for two charities. 

Target Ovarian Cancer: Adam's aim is to "help families avoid having to suffer losses from this cruel disease after losing my mother to Ovarian Cancer".

Fight for sight: Adam wanted to "show other people it's possible to overcome tough times and achieve your dreams having undergone a cornea transplant and suffered with the eye condition Kerataconus from a young age".

The 35th edition Marathon des Sables had the biggest drop out rate in the history of the event at approximately 50%, on Everest Adam suffered with blood oxygen levels at 57% on the first rotation, and solo sea kayaking out into the sea in the dark with no one around him was his first experience of an open water crossing. Adam said it "certainly tested my nerves & navigational abilities".

"They were not gifted milestones. I self-funded every trip but nothing too easy is ever worth doing."

Adam-in-mask-Everest

Adam answered some questions about his Sand, Sea & Summit Challenge:

Expedition Foods: How was the challenge? What did you find tough?

Adam Jones: I got injured 10km into the marathon des sables (MDS) which mentally was tough to take. I was dehydrated and my gaiters tore on the long stage (double marathon) which let sand into my trainers causing a lot of blisters.

Marathon-Des-Sables

Mount Everest, on my first rotation I had only 57% oxygen in my blood at camp 2. At sea level this would mean I would have to go to intensive care according to some medical friends I’ve spoken to. 

The Khumbu icefall was also pretty scary, it is a moving glacier. Also I almost fell onto the remains of a past mountaineer on the summit ridge when I slipped. This again made me realise the risk involved in the task I was undertaking with thousands of feet drops on either side.

Sea kayaking solo in the dark unsupported on Irish Sea waters was certainly scary as I could only see with my headtorch. I nearly capsized my boat when I opened the hatch as I turned around to get some food from the day hatch behind me; if I capsized this would have filled with water. On the other hand I was greeted with a pod of friendly dolphins jumping out of the water off the Irish coastline which was spectacular. They moved south with the tide as I tried to keep up with them.

Adam and his mum

EF: Do you mind talking a bit more about your mum, about what inspired you to do this? 

AJ: My mum fought against ovarian cancer for 7 years. She was incredibly inspiring as she always lived with a smile on her face and wanted to make people happy. She was so selfless and after mourning her loss I got more into running hence I enrolled to the Marathon des Sables, a 7-day self-supported race through the desert, covering 250km. Little did I know it would turn out to have the biggest dropout on record due to sickness and heatstroke affecting the camp.

I have previously held a Guinness world record for being the fastest leprechaun to run a marathon (London marathon) while raising money for children with cancer; this time I wanted to give back to people suffering with the cancer that my mum so dearly fought, so I chose Target Ovarian Cancer, who make people aware of the symptoms of this cruel disease (needing to wee more often and feeling bloated). My mum was misdiagnosed, leading to the cancer getting worse. She was officially diagnosed with under 2 years to live so did amazingly well to live for 7 years but did have to go through hair loss and multiple bouts of chemotherapy.

EF: Thank you for sharing with us. On to the challenge itself... How long did you have to train for it? What type of training did you do?

AJ: I like to keep fit but am not much of a gym guy so run on trails locally. For the MDS I trained in a sauna suit and did sauna heat training before heading out to the desert. For Everest, I am a mountain leader so have years of experience guiding people in the mountains. I got up to Scotland, completing some famous ridges and mountain days in harsh winter conditions, I also took friends out sleeping under the stars in Snowdonia, etc. and completed the Welsh 3000s.

For kayaking, I am from the midlands so I had to train on rivers but I’m a sea kayak leader and have lead overseas multi-day expeditions so have some experience. I took myself to Anglesey to get into choppy seas and tidal waters to prepare, alongside strength training.

Kayaking Irish Sea North Channel

I hadn’t planned to complete all of these challenges in one year it just kind of unraveled that way. The MDS was cancelled multiple times before I finally took part. On the finish line of the MDS, which happened to be my wedding anniversary, I called home and discovered my wife was pregnant. I was overwhelmed with emotion. We had spoken about Everest from the day we were married and discussed it so it seemed it was decided it was best for me to go before the birth. I luckily made it back from Everest only 3 days before my wife went into labour and gave birth of our baby girl, Emily.

I had always fancied a sea crossing, so I started training and just decided to go for the Irish crossing before October 8th (the date I had completed the MDS) to get it all done in a year. You lose a lot of muscle climbing Everest so it was great to build myself up and get strong again.

I’ve raised over £12,000 for my chosen charities inside the 12 months which I’m extremely proud of and I’m the first person to complete this combination of challenges inside one year. Something I’m calling the Sea, Sand and Summit Challenge. I am very much happy for others to try to beat my time or to help others try to achieve their goals in any of the disciplines and want to run some future events in the UK if it gains interest.

EF: Would you go back and do it all again?

AJ: I would never say never but there are other things I would like to achieve which will naturally come first. I want to be a good father and husband which will always be my number one priority but I’d also like to climb some unclimbed peaks, cross some bigger seas and test myself in other environments be it jungle or polar exploration.

EF: Did you encounter any problems? If so what were they? 

AJ: Haha, yes, many. When I arrived at camp 4 the death zone (8000m) alone and without my down suit there was no tent for me and the rest of my group were hours behind me so I was cold and had to jump in a completely ripped tent; just staring at Everest with the snow whipping off its peak. I was alone but so excited about the next day's summit attempt, hoping I could get myself into a proper tent before I froze.

Also, I’m a contact lens wearer and on the MDS our bivouac (which was over our heads, propped up by wood) collapsed one evening, and sand got everywhere, so putting my lenses in was a painful operation.

On Everest my contact lenses were frozen in their case. A stark contrast to the desert heat.

Summiting Everest

EF: Could you tell us about the food you used for your challenge?

Yes, firstly I used the Expedition Foods meals on my Everest summit push. I ate the Macaroni and Cheese 1000 calories Expedition Foods meal in the death zone at camp 4 before leaving for the summit. I ate the 1000 calories Porridge with Blueberries in camp 2. They were really filling; that gave me plenty of energy to climb the bergschrund and the steep Lhotse face.

I used the Expedition Foods meals high on Everest as they were light and easy to prepare as obviously once leaving base camp our facilities were very basic especially on the summit push. There was plenty of ice available to melt. They also gave me the warmth needed in such cold conditions.

Marathon Des Sables

I also ate Expedition Foods meals each morning and evening on the Marathon des Sables (MDS). I went lightweight and didn’t have a stove, so I just let the sun heat them in the evenings in my water rations.

I tried a fair few different meals before heading out to the desert, and I stuck to the main ones I liked. I’m a big fan of the Porridge with Strawberries and Porridge with Blueberries so I had them each morning just alternating the fruits.

I ate the Beef Stroganoff, Chicken, Parmesan and Basil Risotto, Spaghetti Bolognaise, and Macaroni & Cheese. I stayed away from the Chilli Con Carne as it was a bit spicy for me in the warm desert but the ones I chose worked great for me enabling me to finish well inside the top 100 finishers, which exceeded my expectations.

I also ate flapjack bars, crisps, nuts, sweets & some jerky alongside the Expedition Foods, but the meals were the main source of my energy on what was a very tough 35th MDS.

EF: Do you have any stories or moments you'd like to share?

AJ: Summiting Everest with no one else around and climbing from camp 2 to camp 4 completely alone. It silenced all the tales of it being busy as I waited for a later weather window.

Another tale: I had a cornea graft when I was 23. I had to lay horizontal for 3 months. This, along with the loss of my mum made me leave the corporate world embarking on a life of adventure leadership and setting up my own business. My opticians weren’t sure if my cornea would reject the new donors on Everest due to the lack of oxygen hence I chose to raise money for fight for sight on that expedition. I like to try to turn a positive from a negative.

Are you thinking of taking on a challenge? No matter how big or small, we want to hear from you! Drop us an email on info@expeditionfoods.com to talk about the food for your adventures.