On paper this looked like one of the difficult stages of the MdS, 35 Km, dunes, rocks, wind, sand and temperatures hovering around 30 degrees. I took up my desktop vigil at around 3pm (BST) tuned into the finish line webcam and when there was nothing happening I quickly checked the temporary results - joy! bliss! Steve came in at #315, he's safe and I can get on with some gardening. I'm guessing that there must be no facility to send messages to loved ones since I still have not heard from him direct. That's cool, I send him a quick message every evening just so he knows we're still out here following his progress online.
It looks like he is just short of half way, the fourth stage tomorrow is a whopper over two days, a total of over 81 Km. He must be coping with the conditions though because he has really moved ahead during this stage; to give you an idea of how tough things must be out there, 28 runners have already dropped out and as I write this, one poor Frenchman Thomas Sauvage # 185 is still running or crawling to complete stage three.
Since I undertook to take care of this blog I have found myself waiting around for news or results and during this 'free' time I have been checking out the Marathon Des Sables website. Each day they post photos and footage of the stages, interviews with the participants, photos of the runners, the support team, the catering crew in fact the whole enchelada, in this way I have somehow become immersed in the whole process and I have been blown away by the harsh conditions, the relentless sun and the sand whipped up by the seemingly ever-present wind - how can they do this? I couldn't do this, could you?; make no mistake, every single man and woman on this run is a genuine hero or heroine and the charities that they are supporting must mean a great deal to them. Those of us who live in Europe or the USA or Australia take for granted things like power/gas/roads/healthcare/pizza express/cellphones/security - I could go on - but there are whole swathes of the world where basic essentials like clean water which we use to flush our toilets in the 'civilized' world are simply unavailable to the locals. This is what many of these runners, and I am proud to count my son amongst them, are doing this for so I urge you all, hit the 'donate here' box and just chip in what you can, doesn't matter how small it is, every cent counts.
Every now and then I'll preview this post to see what it looks like and how it reads and I have noticed that the dateline is set for Sydney - 9 hours ahead of BST, I haven't figured out how to change that yet but have it in mind, I'm doing this from the leafy green rolling Downs of East Sussex.
I'll be back tomorrow night (thursday morning if you're in Oz) so until then,