Financial analyst Andrew works at Hawkwood Capital in London but has an impressive sporting background. Having professionally competed in triathlons for England in his twenties, he now runs for a hobby, and has an impressive record, coming first in several park runs and, more recently came 3rd in the XNRG Pilgrim’s Challenge 66-mile race. He said it was a muddy race and adds, ‘After training through the cold and dark of an English winter, I’m looking forward to the heat of the desert.’ Will he regret saying that?
Andrew is no novice to ultra-running, having competed in the 2013 Marathon des Sables where he finished in 11th place. Andrew also took part inRacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014.
Andrew’s training for Marathon des Sables is detailed. He says, ‘I'd just like to do better than last time, and better will be a subjective measure of how I go in comparison.’ He’s currently running 120 km per week with long back to back runs carrying a rucksack. Andrew knows how the terrain can take it out of you and says, ‘the dunes really sap your energy, there aren't too many hills but there is a lot of running on soft surfaces.’ He adds, ‘being strong is important: last time I felt I hadn't trained on enough hills and I'm doing more in preparation this time. But it’ll never be enough.’
There are other ways Andrew is preparing for the race. Having suffered a few nasty blisters last time, he will be taking better care of his feet this race. And then of course, there is the food. Although he hasn’t yet planned his diet fully, Andrew knows that correct nutrition and hydration are vital to completing the races and he speaks from experience. ‘Last time I did the Marathon des Sableds there were a couple of times when it got very hot and I started to get light-headed. If I had just told myself to "push through," I’d have risked getting heatstroke. Sometimes a bad moment is your body telling you you've overdone it and need to slow down. Other times, bad moments come when you haven't eaten or drunk enough, so remembering to do so regularly is crucial.’
Andrew will be taking Expedition Foods with a focus on the curries and chillies. As well as Expedition Foods, Andrew will be taking a mixture of Gu gels, and Polycal, a flavourless energy powder, and he’ll certainly take things he likes: dried banana chips, nuts and Pepperami. Breakfast will be either Expedition Foods or just plain and simple noodles, which he’ll eat cold as a stove is not on his kit list. He says, ‘It's hard to appreciate how much your taste and smell changes in the desert - you crave savoury and bitter foods.’ Even with the change in diet, Andrew knows he’ll be craving steak.
Ticking off the kilometres, the incentive of the finish line and being able to stop and get out of the sun each day is what keeps him going. After all, he says, he is ‘taking a break out of life, if only for a week. The suffering and the challenge remind you that you're alive.’