Thursday, 10 May 2012


I was delighted to get home today and see that the good people at Mensa Australia had decided to run a story about the run and Glimmer of Hope in their magazine! I'll scan it in and upload it tomorrow. I'll also upload the 'top 10 tips' for running the MDS. I've been discussing these with tent mates over the last month and hope that future runners will stumble across them and find them helpful. As an aside, welcome to any new visitors to the blog from Mensa! Welcome your comments, donations or feedback! :)

Also, while I believe I've thanked every single person who's emailed me or donated to the fundraising campaign individually, I  want to say a few other thank yous.

A huge thank you to my dad for all his hard work on the blog while I was away - just about everyone who read his posts was overwhelmed by his hard work, enthusiasm and writing style.

To my good friend in Sydney, Mark Fettroll for all his efforts in making my welcome home party so very memorable!

Most importantly of all, to my lovely wife Blain for supporting me and believing in me throughout. I promise I won't do this again! Looking forward to our honeymoon later this year.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Final Stage

High Noon. Friends, family, followers, Dudes and Dudettes wherever you may be - this epic journey - and I mean epic in every sense of the word, has finally (for Steve anyway - some still running) come to the end.  I was with Blain (skype that is) from the start to the finish.  I know most of you out there in the blogosphere have been following Steve's progress so I won't go into the numbers; what I can tell you is that he finished at #97 today with a time of 10:56:49 which, as I write this, has put him in final position #172.  That's interesting, when I started this post he was at #126 overall, that means that even though guys are coming in behind him in this final stage they could still overhaul him by virtue of having acquired a lower cumulative time.  Before he left for Morocco Steve confided in me that he would call it a success if he just managed to complete the course, a bonus would be finishing in the top half, coming in at #172 is truly awesome.

Bee and I were very excited by the prospect of a 'grandstand' finish and seeing Steve come thru on the webcam but we were both let down, I guess the site was getting so many hits that the coverage was very poor, often freezing for minutes at a time.  Sometimes B had coverage and sometimes I did, we worked out a 'takoushi' (ask Steve) method of dealing with this, B would skype me with video and I would take the call on my ipad, then I would prop up the ipad in front of my pc screen and in this way I could relay the pictures to Blain when she had none.  In the event we followed Steve's progress thru the 'posy' site, tracking him by seeing which runners around him had passed thru the only checkpoint and trying to figure out when he would come in. Blain was pretty confident that he would take between an hour and an hour and a quarter since this was the kind of performance he was putting in during training, plus she said that the entrants all give their kit away to the Berbers before the final stage and can sprint this part, additionally - notwithstanding the effort that they have made all week - there would be no more after this and so no reason to hold back... hmmm.  I am an optimist as you know but during this past week I have been burnt so many times that I have provided myself with the equivalent of a firewall and so my prediction was one and a half to two hours.  B actually said that she would bet money on her estimate.  Steve took exactly one hour, forty five minutes and seventeen seconds, Blain - I'll be around soon to collect.   I just took a sneaky peek at the final scoreboard, Gary Pickering came in at #159, well done Gary! and Mark Clifton who I thought was down and out on thursday has hung in there finishing at #628, what manner of men are these? - well done Mark, that's what I call tenacity.

I sure hope he met his target for fundraising and I want to say right here and now on Steve's behalf and on behalf of all those people who will benefit from this - a whopping thank you to all of you who have donated or provided support or sponsorship; the difference that a seemingly small gesture can make is astounding, I just wish there was a way for you to see the results for yourselves.  Who knows? maybe this week will inspire one or two of you to do something like this for your own chosen cause.

I must say that I have enjoyed hosting this blog and sharing the experience with you, this is my last post, Steve will be back in the UK on monday and spending the week here recovering before flying off on saturday night to arrive in Sydney next monday.  I feel so sorry for him because this will be the third year in a row that he'll be flying on his birthday and losing the entire day - bit like being born on February 29 I suppose.

I am gonna return to my life now, thanks again all of you for just being there, and thank you Steve for letting me share this experience with you - still blown away by your courage, strength and fortitude - I love you Dude and I'm mighty proud to call you my Son, now go home to your beautiful wife and stop all this fooling around in the sand nonsense.

Love - it's all you need,

Spencer :{

Post Script to Stage Five

Good evening all, 9:15pm as I write this brief PS, you will recall the panicky text I got from Blain when Steve was late coming arriving at CP3 today, one of the runners posted a message after completing stage five saying that there had been a tremendous sandstorm at the exactly the time and in the same place where Steve and Gary were running - hence the delay - just as I surmised earlier.  Speaking of Gary, had I been diligent enough to read all of Steve's previous blogs I would have seen that he was hooked up with G from way back, they trained together in Oz, sorry mate.

I will call B later and hopefully provide some moral support while the old man's away.

See you tomorrow for the final showdown,



This Stage was meant to be breeze...

1:30pm Stage five, I read the 'roadbook' (you can find this in the MdS website just under their banner - hover over 2012 Edition and click on  'roadbook') and studied the diagrams and it looks easy - well, comparatively easy - plus Steve's email assured us that it would be 'just a marathon' yet the people around him at CP2 are already through. (phone goes off - a panicky text from Blain) sorry Bee but I'm gonna reprint it here:  "Where is Steve?! Still waiting for him to pass CP3. Everyone around him is passing the check. This is so nerve racking!Xx" I called her up and we were on the phone a long time, navigating our way around the rocky website - once again she yells out "he's through CP3!" The low, low feeling one gets waiting for a number to change on the screen, the thoughts that go through one's mind, the perils that we can only envision are instantly evaporated when his number comes up 'through CP3'.  Then your heart feels like its gonna burst, alone in front of your pc at some ungodly hour you jump up, punch the air and yell out YESSSS!!!  Blain, sweetheart, welcome to my world.
In the excitement of the last half hour I forgot to mention that Steve got to CP1 in very good time, ditto CP2 and was set fair to post a good time, something must have happened between 2 and 3, his new running mate Gary Pickering also came in within a few seconds of Steve and listen to this,  Blain tells me that Gary is a real running machine so we surmised that there may have been a sandstorm or some other local problem.  Anyway, they're both through.  This is the point when one's mind begins to get active, you go to the leaderboard and see how long they are taking between (in today's case) CP3 and the finish line, you check down all those who have finished and work out a rough average.  Now you have expectations, a hook on which to hang your hope, like a teenager on a first date and now you know within 10 - 20 minutes when your man will come through; oh yeah, you'll be right there at the website - early - with the digital equivalent of a rolled up copy of The Times under your arm and wearing some entirely inappropriate hat or something, waiting (under the digital clock perhaps?) and hoping against hope that you won't be stood Steve would say,'sure!'  All you've done is set yourself up for a really rocky ride; those of you who know me will know that I am a born optimist, I like my glass to be half full all the time (or something like that) so I start my vigil a full 15 minutes before the earliest possible finish - big mistake!  I start to worry within the first five minutes and it gets steadily worse until the blessed relief that comes with the news that he's through.

2:40pm I am supposed to be picking up my wife from the hairdresser in a while, but by our calculations (Bee & I on the phone now, both watching the webcam at the finish line on our pcs) Steve should be coming thru in the next ten minutes - BINGO! - as we're talking I see him run up to the webcam, give a huge smile and raise his arms - I shout to Bee but her link with the webcam has dropped out and this time she's missed him.  I have to say here and now, he looked in fantastic shape and came thru about two minutes ahead of Gary P.  Relief for Bee however when his time comes up the board (click on the 'POSY' box for updates on the positions during the stage) - I make an unseemly hasty exit from the phone (sorry mate) rush off to get my missus and give her the news, (to be continued)...

4:20pm  Cont'd -  we then go food shopping (stay with me now...) and in our euphoria,  buy loads of treats and stuff we don't need, go figure.  Interestingly, Bee was not the only person who told me that they had difficulty in navigating the official website, I guess I have spent so much time just waiting that I have probably been all over it and seen most of the content.  I have to say that it is not that user friendly but it  kinda works, whaddayagonnado?

6:00pm Tomorrow is the final day, 6eme etape - 14 Avril: 15.5km.  My guess is that this final, short stage is like a faux stage.  It's very short so there will be no protracted vigil, there are some celebs or VIPs who will be allowed to cross the finish line and the whole thing will be like a celebration.  I will certainly be at my screen watching events unfold, I expect it will be spectacular.

Look, I know I keep banging on about the charity thing but in truth, this is really what all this is about; those runners are killing themselves for some wonderful and worthy causes and if that ain't enough, the good feeling you get after chipping in whatever you can is second to none, trust me on this one thing.

I a going to start dinner in a moment, if you're interested it's fish, so I am going to post this and chill; I've had some feedback and I am pleased to say it's all been good.

More news tomorrow folks, and thanks for staying with me - I feel that I know you all, see you in the morning.

Love Spencer :{

Friday, 13 April 2012


Almost midnight. Just connected with Bee - like I guessed, overjoyed but overslept - she's cool, main thing is the rest of this run is 'easy' unquote....

g'night -

Spencer   zzzzzzzzzzzz

Contact at last

I said I would be back - 9:00pm I just got an email from Blain, apparently he has sent us both an email but I haven't got mine yet; he is well, in good spirits and happy with his tent crew.  So upbeat, quote " tomo is 'just' a marathon and then we have about 15k for final day an all done - just a jog".  He hasn't had to visit the doctor, got the best feet in the tent and is really pleased to get emails from his mates and family around the world.  He also enquired about how the fundraising was going, in the excitement I have let that side of things slide.  It's so easy, even I managed it, don't worry if it can't be much, coffee money will do and believe me, it will make a difference, go on - you know you want to do it.
Blain received the message around 4:30am and fwd it to me, so far I have heard nothing from him direct plus, I must have spent an entire day in front of my screen and not seen him; B just switched on when I called her last night and there he was - it must be love.  I'm only kidding B.  As I write this, the pain from the dentist is kicking in and I am bushed (yeah, right!) so I'm gonna try and connect with B before she goes to work.
As Arnold Schwarzteneggar used to say 'I'll be back'.

Big Love,

Spencer :{