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Posted in About Us 4 years ago

Mike's Marathon des Sables Challenge!

ITM Director Mike Jackson is taking on an epic challenge next month and raising money for charity, read his story...



Mike Jackson, ITM Operations Director, has been a keen marathon runner for many years having previously tested himself with the London, Brighton and Amsterdam marathons, and several other "ultra" long distance running events. This year he decided to test himself with what is considered as the ultimate endurance running challenge on the planet. The Marathon des Sables (MdS) is the stuff of legends, with The Discovery Channel describing it as The Toughest Footrace on Earth.


About the MdS Challenge

MdS is a truly gruelling multi-stage adventure through a mythical landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments – the Sahara Desert. All food and equipment, apart from communal goat’s-hair Berber tents, will have to be carried by Mike in his rucksack. Water is rationed and if he exceeds the ration, he will get a time penalty. In just six days he will run over 250km (156 miles) through endless dunes, over rocky jebels, and across white-hot salt plains. The sun will be his constant enemy with temperatures regularly reaching 50 centigrade. The sand will be his constant companion, clouds of it under his feet, sheets of it stinging his eyes and lots of it chafing where it shouldn’t. The long stage will be particularly extreme and will see him running out of a Saharan morning, into the dusk and then the dark, many not finishing the 80+km (52 miles) until well into the next day. His feet will swell, crack and bleed under the pressure and the heat. But none of this will matter when he crosses the finishing line…



Mike’s training regime has included;

  • Regular running and walking to and from the ITM office in Milton Keynes, a round trip of 30 miles
  • All night run along the South Downs Way
  • Run most of the Cornish coastal path
  • Sand running across the dunes of Merthyr Maw
  • Largest training week was 110 miles running across the rugged landscape of Lanzarote
  • Marathons, marathons and more marathons
  • Cake, chocolate (Lots of cake and chocolate) and Super Noodles
  • Eating green stuff and making stinky soup
  • Destroying a pair of trainers ever 6-8 weeks


MdS, some key facts

  • 250+ kms (156+ miles)
  • 6 stages over 7 days
  • Day 4, a beast of epic proportion. Long stage of 80+ kms (52+miles)
  • Jebels as high as Mount Snowdon
  • Self-sufficient carrying all food, sleeping bag and mandatory kit from day 1 but with water rations and bivouac supplied
  • Temperatures of up to 50 degrees centigrade during the day and -5 degrees in the night



“As part of ITM’s 2017 charitable fund raising, I am using my epic MdS challenge to raise money for Keech Hospice Care

Please take a moment to visit my Just Giving page and maybe donate a pound or two. Thank you!”



13/04/17 – Image added from the live tracking site.

That's the toughest Stage 4 completed, hopefully he's asleep in his tent.


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