Monday, 6 July 2009

Motivation..... Jaco Geyer - Marathon des Sables 09

It's interesting what we think about when we race and what drives us. I'm lucky as a number of my friends and peers are always on the hunt for extreme challenges. Their achievement's are both inspirational and motivating. When you re having a dark moment in a race these are just the nuggets that I draw upon to give me the ability to push on when your body wants to shut down....

Jaco Geyer is also an Ironman Triathlete, but he has just completed the Marathon Des Sables and here is a snippet from what he calls the Long Day..... Only 92KM

"When the challenge lies ahead, you need to break it down into smaller stages to get your head around the mammoth task ahead of you. The goal was to complete the 92 km in one day - we started at 09:00 and i wanted to cross the finish line that day before 24:00. The terrain varied from salt flats, rocky fields, dunes, mountains and very muddy wadis and the sun had no mercy. With danger of severe sand storms I was forced you to cover my nose and mouth with a buff to shield myself from the wind and dust to help with breathing, and excessive water loss.

The day started slow, with reminder of the ITB trouble in my leg - but there's not much you can do when you're out there in the desert. You've set yourself a goal and you want to reach it because that is why you are there. A few painkillers made the running more bearable and once you're in a rhythm, you forget the pain and push on.

The day consisted of 7 stages, each ranging between 12 and 18 km. When I reached checkpoint 4 (at the 60 km mark) I felt a bit rough. The painkillers had worn off and I could feel the ITB pains crawling back; However, I was 2/3 of the way and I still wanted to achieve my goal. I was attended to by one of the volunteer doctors and between my English and his French and a lot of gesturing, he managed to alleviate the pain by applying a bandage just above the knee to keep the ligaments in place....And then I was off again.........

The sun started to set and I reached checkpoint 5 just as the last rays of sunlight disappeared. I was at a very low place, physically and emotionally I was spent. I had another 20 km to go and it seemed like my goal of finishing before midnight was slipping away. For some strange reason, I allowed my mind to tell my body that it is OK to not make it before midnight - that it is OK to walk for a full 10 km. I did not have any energy left, but could not stand the taste of another energy bar or gel. But somehow, my mind did take over in a much greater way - it dragged me through the second to last stage with no energy left.

I reached the last checkpoint. It was 22:00 and I know I could cover the last 12km and still finish before midnight. My mind took control again, and with my spirits lifted, it felt like I sailed through that last stage. I couldn't feel the ITB pain or the hundreds of rocks I kicked in the dark. I knew the end was near and I knew I was going to reach my goal. I crossed the line that night at 23:30hrs"

Jaco's journey wasn't just about the Marathon, its was a journey of both faith and self development. The level of mental strength that an event like this requires is off the scale....
let alone the stress that you put your body through!!!
All credit to him and the hard work he's put in....needless to say I've just added this to my list of things to do before I'm forty....

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