Despatches from the Departure Lounge – Final packing for the Marathon Des Sables

From the Gatwick Airport departure lounge, Murdo Anderson shares his packing woes.

In our multi-part blog series, former front-5 player Murdo Anderson takes us through his preparation for, and participation in the Marathon Des Sables 2018. Murdo is running the Marathon Des Sables in April to raise money for Doddie Weir and MND Scotland.

The countdown is almost over! Sitting in Gatwick airport awaiting my flight out to Ouarzarzate, Morocco, sun, sand… the past couple of weeks have been some of the fastest time to pass ever. Following the stressful experience of getting my medical forms sorted out I still had to plan all my meals, decant all the food from thick, heavy foil packets into resealable bags and then calorie count everything. A requirement of the race organisers to ensure you’re not travelling too light and potentially a risk to yourself. With all my kit laid out on the kitchen table I left it to the last minute to try packing.

The kit list is endless, despite being minimal. I have one pair of racing shorts, one racing t shirt, a hat with neck cover, a buff to cover my face from sandstorms, glasses, calf compression sleeves, one pair of racing socks, sand gaiters and my trainers.

The kit list is endless, despite being minimal

For in camp I have spare socks, compression leggings, a super light long sleeved t shirt and an ultra light down jacket. My sleeping bag rolls up to the size of a large chicken breast. I have a small arsenal of medical equipment and survival tools. All my meals are freeze dried and all my snacks are dense, highly calorific snacks which should help give me the energy I need.

At this point I realise that if there’s any kit I’ve forgotten, anything I don’t have that others do, it’s not going to matter. From here on out the only thing that will stop me from finishing this gruelling race will be my determination. 

the only thing that will stop me from finishing this gruelling race will be my determination

After arriving in Morocco I will be transported by bus for 6 hours into the Sahara and later onto Moroccan army desert vehicles to get me to a remote Berber camp where I will stay Friday night, have all my kit checked by race officials on Saturday and then from then on out it’s self sufficiency!

MURDO’S TRAINING KIT, and our sister website, supplied Murdo with a range of kit for his Marathon Des Sables training and preparation. Winter training in Scotland means dark runs in cold and challenging conditions. Now Murdo is undergoing acclimation training, he’s been relying on lightweight tees and shorts, much like he will in the Sahara.

CLICK HERE to see some of the kit Murdo has relied on for his training.


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About the author

Exposed to a multitude of adventures from a young age – kayaking, hill walking, rock climbing, even trekking in the Himalayas – Murdo Anderson has always loved sport. A very keen club rugby player, injury forced Murdo into early retirement and his focus shifted to ultra distance running. The appeal of testing both physical endurance and mental strength is what really gets him going. Who knows what he will attempt after the MDS!

Visit Murdo’s Just Giving page here:

Find out more about MY NAME’5 DODDIE, the charity set up by former Scotland lock Doddie Weir to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease.

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