Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Fw: Final goodbyes

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Richard Merry <>
To: Mandy Merry <>
Sent: Wednesday, 25 March, 2009 10:26:25 AM
Subject: Final goodbyes

Hi All

My final e-mail from the UK, as Thursday I fly out to Morocco, for the MDS. Timings for the event are as follows;

26 March - Gatwick to Ouarzazate; transfer to Hotel
27 March - Transfer to Desert
28 March - Registration and administration day
29 March - 4 April - The event - Self sufficiency 4 April is the final stage
5 April - Hotel
6 April - Ouarzazate to Gatwick arrive in UK about 12:30.
As before, all the race can be followed at, although you may need to check other pages to get updated progress and contact me by return (No 695), and Mandy will be circulating emails to all, including 3 radio stations, Heart, Dream 100 and BBC Essex, for hopeful daily updates.

Finally to say - Thanks for everyone's support and constant interest, and I will make sure that I earn every penny for GOSHCC, and come back in one piece (possibly minus a few toenails, and a few stones less, but what the heck)

Thanks again

Final Thoughts

Final thoughts for the week, before jetting out on Thursday. Extracts from the book i have been writing, which i hope will be published in one form or another for future runners to use as reference, and so my family can see what i have been doing at 5am whilst they slept in their beds.

Monday 23rd March
Nerves have started to really kick in and, as I have only a short run planned for Tuesday, I need to do something else, so a light gym session, followed by the sauna to relax, will suffice. I had a quick chat with John this morning about kit, etc and what to pack in which case and I think I will repack my cases to make sure I have only the kit I need for the first day in the hand luggage and the “must had survival gear” as well as all paperwork. Food for me now is going to be higher calorie and good carbs so Jacket potatoes for tea with veggies, a coupe of good sandwiches at lunch and trail mix to snack on during the day. Managed to secure another radio interview with Heart FM, although like the Dream 100 interview due on Wednesday, I wont hear it on the radio, as it will be aired on Sunday, whilst I am running, sweating my bits off, but if it raises money for GOSHCC then its worth doing.

Tuesday 24th March
A quick 2 mile run and sauna at lunchtime, this time with sweatshirt, t-shirt and shorts, which caused a huge amount of sweating and water intake, and strange looks. Heart interview at 11 went well, and was easy to do, being pre-recorded and I am getting used to these now, which makes it easier. Getting plenty of well wishes from work and friends too now and with everything packed and re-packed I can wait to get going.

Wednesday 25th March
Nothing more than a session in the sauna, again with clothes on, although the boredom of sitting there and the desire to get going tomorrow caused lunch to be cut short. Everything at work is up to date. All e-mail addresses have been set up so that Mandy can forward my messages to all and sundry each night. The aim there is to drop her an e-mail, with an update of what happened during the day and then she will forward it on to the group I have set up, which includes all the radio stations as well as family, work etc.
Good English weather today, to see me off, windy, raining and blustery, not nice, but I will be glad of some rain and cool breezes in a week’s time. Once Freya was is in bed tonight I will sort out all my gear for one last time, having decided to change my evening top to a Helly Hansen one instead of the thin Dublin Marathon one. This will serve as a sleeping top as well as one for the night stage of the race (I will be past caring about the smell by that time and light weight is paramount).
Email from John yesterday saying he had been sent to Scotland on a works errand, not what he needs 2 days before the off, thankfully not something I have to worry about and will be glad to go home tonight. Having strange emotion swings with all the wishes, but that is probably the nerves setting in further. The rest of the journey will have to be recorded in a note book and re-typed when I get back, as well as uploading photo’s, of which I intend to take a lot.

Monday, 16 March 2009

A big Step backwards

This will be my last Blog report before I disappear to Morocco, and not the best way to end.

The last few weeks have not been good as I picked up a calf strain when out with Mark Syred from BBC Essex, doing another interview. This strain also pulled on the inside of my hamstring making any running extremely painful, so I stopped.

Resting it now is the only option, although I will go out for a short trot later this week, just to make sure it is healing, but nothing too much. The MDS is now less than two weeks away and I want to be at the start line, knowing I can run and be ok.

On another note Anglia News has finally shown an interest and although they cancelled last minute this morning I am hoping they will be back for a feature before I go and raise some more money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Only a short report this time and nerves are getting more frayed as we get closer to the big off, but everything is packed and ready for the off (after re-packing for the umpteenth time, but it all fits (ish).

Will try to do daily reports from the run, once it starts and keep the Blog updated, but it will depend on whether Mandy has problems with the home PC.

Ciao for Now

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Fw: Marathon Des Sables Updates

Hi All

With the Marathon Des Sables on a few weeks away, I thought it best to let you know about a few bits.

The organisers, as in previous years, will provide a communications tent (i.e. an old laptop on a table). This gives competitors a chance to send and receive messages during the week. My intention is to send a message to Mandy every night, that she can forward on to you select few(ish) and the message will also update my own Blog ( at the same time.

This will serve three purposes; Firstly - to re-assure Mandy & Freya that all is well (the reality may be changed to protect the young). Secondly - to let everyone know what is going on and how the day went, and thirdly - to stop Mandy cashing in my life policy. There will probably be no communication on the 4th day (Wednesday 1st April - there is a joke about fools there somewhere) as it is the 55 mile stage and I will probably not be back before nightfall (or possibly before sun-rise the following morning)

I can't guarantee that my spelling will be great (nothing new) and that it won't get too mushy, but as my sponsors it gives you a chance to see that I am earning your money.

Replying to me (and it would be extremely appreciated) is via a different route. The organisers web-site has a message page, where you enter the runners race number (695 in my case) and it will then allow you to send a message that way. The link to this is, and look for the section entitled "write to competitors". The site also has a results page and daily updates by the race director, regarding temps and distances. You cannot reply directly to the e-mail from Mandy or the address from morocco, as it will not be delivered. The above details will probably come up in French, but the English version is available.

If you don't want to know any of this then let me know and I will ignore your request take you off the mailing list.

Hope this all makes sense (!!!)


Monday, 2 March 2009

Grantham Canal Run – 29.3 Miles – Tale of two halves

This was meant to be a back-to-back race, with 29.3 miles on the Saturday, from Cotgrave to Grantham and then back again on the Sunday. The route was the canal path, which, apart from the odd lock was flat and easy under foot. The race was organised and started by Rory Coleman, an MDS vet and ultra runner of note, and very nice guy too. Starting from the sports centre in Cotgrave, and after a minor loss of way, we got to the canal path after 1½ miles. The initial pathway was gravel on hard trails, with no give and this would cause problems later combined with low bridges. Checkpoints were at about 5, 10, 15 and 21 miles and supplied water and sweets, and a chance to stop.

Most runners were training for the MDs and there was a plethora of Raidlight back-packs and M1100MDS trainers, although expecting it to be very wet underfoot I ran in my Asics Gel Cumulus trainers, and glad I did. As after about 16 miles the trail turned to grass and mud and the trainers started sinking in and letting in the water and mud. This would have been bad news for the MDS trainers and I wanted to train in those in the next few weeks with a full pack.

On this race I was carrying very little, only about 4kgs, and only in the 10 litre pack as well.

However disaster struck after 14 miles on a very low bridge, who you had to go under on your haunches and I felt my right calf stretch and within a few hundred yards I was reduced to a trot and by the next checkpoint at 15 miles my target time of 4hrs 30 was gone. I could only run/walk to the finish and took 3 hours to complete the rest of the distance. Still happy to have done the race distance and finished 28th from 70, but concerned about the damage I may have done and that there was a run back the next day. Once I had finished it was off to my room and grabbed a bag of ice for the calf. A quick shower and some food and then an hour on the bed with ice on my leg.

I couldn’t stay too long as Rory had organised a Doctor for Medical certificate signing and ECG taking, thankfully I was recovered in time to pass both, and then stay for a seminar on the MDS by Andy Mcmenemy, who had completed the 2007 MDs and 2008 Namibia desert race as well, and who passed on some very good tips on foot care and other ideas too.

After that I shuffled off to the room, hoping for a good nights sleep (no chance), and being ok for the Sunday run.

Sunday came and I went home. No running at all. The calf had stiffened in the night and was pulling on the upper Achilles tendon and I was not prepared to risk all for the sake of not having a DNS against my name on the race. I wasn’t the only one as others had seen sense and were resting niggles in anticipation of the bigger days to come.

The damage wasn’t long lasting and I was out running, albeit for 3 miles, on Monday and although stiff in the thighs and energy not up to peak, the calf felt better, if not perfect.

So next is the Marathon Des Sables. I have another 3 weeks of training, and tapering and 100 miles total left on my training plan. Time is still on my side to stretch the calf and take it easy on the longer runs.

I have another meeting with Mark Syred of BBC Essex on Sunday, I still need to get my gaiters attached to the shoes and, although I have all my kit, I need to get my backpack packed properly so that everything fits in (too much food!)