Profile: Desert marathon madness
Akbar Lalani ran almost six marathons across the Sahara desert. He tells Karen Hebert about the blisters and stress fractures and the over-riding triumph of finishing the race
The Marathon des Sables--“marathon of the sands”--takes place in the Moroccan desert. Akbar Lalani, a fourth year medical student at Bristol University, completed the race, running for a charity, the Madrasa Preschool Programme. He was one of 661 athletes from 32 countries competing this year, the 18th time the race has run. The race covers 243 km in six stages over seven days. The stages include a dune day (a day that is run entirely in sand dunes) and a non-stop 82 km stage that athletes had to complete within 40 hours. That is a total distance of almost six marathons--run in 40°C heat. Competitors are self sufficient, carrying everything they need for the duration (apart from water and tents) in rucksacks weighing about 12 kg.
Akbar decided to enter the race after watching a television programme about it. “I told my flatmates about the race, and they said, “You'd