April is fast approaching, which means the Marathon des Sables 2020 is just around the corner. In the run up to the big event, Sean Clark chats with some of this year’s Walking with the Wounded team members. Looking into each member’s reason for embarking on this incredible challenge and how they’re preparing for April, Sean dives deep into what running the Marathon des Sables as part of the WWTW team means to everyone.
In this episode, Sean talks to Robert Gibbs, who, like Sean, will be running MDS for the first time this year. Having served in the military himself, Rob admits that the ultra marathon fits into his innate need for a challenge. While he has experience battling 50+ degree temperatures, Rob is no stranger to difficult conditions.
Given his rugby build, Rob admits that he wasn’t necessarily the most likely candidate for ultra marathons. However, as soon as he started training for MDS in May 2018, his vegan diet and training regime saw him shed 20kgs pretty quickly. He’s never run a timed marathon before and admits that avoiding injury is one of his biggest goals in preparation for the event.
Naturally, this means that running isn’t Rob’s sole method of preparation for the MDS in April – pilates, strength and conditioning and saunas are also vital elements of his training. Rob’s military training means that he’s used to carrying a weighted kit bag, but admits that carrying a heavy rucksack can have an impact on his waistline and lower back, which can lead to issues elsewhere in his body.
When it comes to the biggest challenges, Rob states that his competitive nature could be his biggest downfall. He also added that he’ll need to keep an eye on his hydration levels, but assures Sean that he’ll soon get used to the necessity of drinking water – no matter how warm that water might be. Rob suggests that being in tune with your body and setting reminders to take salt tablets and drink electrolytes will be essential to keeping hydrated over the course of the ultra marathon.
They discuss how they’ve been experimenting with kit and trainers, and what they’ll need to consider when they pack their bags for Morocco. Rob offers some important advice about thinking about how the bag is packed, not just for weight distribution but for what you might need to get to and when.
Rob also explains how he has raised money for the event. He expresses his gratitude to everyone that has donated and explains his “don’t ask, don’t get” approach when it comes to asking larger enterprises for support for such great causes.
Check out Rob’s website at http://www.robg2020mds.co.uk/.
If you want to know support the team and this brilliant cause, you can donate at www.walkingwiththewounded.org.uk/. You’ll find information about how the charity supports ex service people, as well as preparation for MDS 2020 and other events.