Sports

Toughest race in the world

Maple Ridge construction worker and new father David Bol is training to run the Marathon des Sables, known as the toughest foot race in the world. The race lasts six days and covers 254 km across the Sahara desert in Morrocco. - Colleen Flanagan
Maple Ridge construction worker and new father David Bol is training to run the Marathon des Sables, known as the toughest foot race in the world. The race lasts six days and covers 254 km across the Sahara desert in Morrocco.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan

David Bol is the first person to tell you that he is insane.

The Maple Ridge construction worker and recent father is preparing for what many consider to be the toughest foot race in the world.

The Marathon des Sables is a six day race that takes runners across 254-km of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, across some of the most barren, inhospitable landscapes on earth.

The heat will be scorching, with temperatures nearing 50 C.

Experienced runners train for years for the race.

Bol, who began training in January, has never run a marathon before.

“I saw a show on TV about it, and they said it was the toughest race in world, so I said right there that I want to do it,” he says.

“My wife, my family, they all think I’m crazy.”

Bol says he enjoys challenging himself, and he wants the bragging rights of completing the world’s toughest race.

If the idea sounds a little crazy, its not entirely out of character for Bol.

“I’ve been naked bungy jumping a few times,” he says.

Bol is currently alternating 20-km runs with hill climbs up 227th Street on his off days. He says his training regimen is progressing on schedule, and he should be ready for the race in April 2012.

He hopes to be able to run marathon distances within a couple months. The longest stage of the race is 80-km long, so he’ll have to do much more than that.

Competitors are also required to carry all food and personal belongings with them on the run.

“My wife is really supportive, but she’s concerned for my well-being,” says Bol. “To her, doing something like this would be her worst nightmare.”

The race can be a killer, literally.

In 2007, two competitors died on the race, and all entrants must submit electrocardiograms to prove they are healthy enough to compete.

Bol is writing about his preparation on his blog.

He is also hoping to raise money for the African children’s charity Facing Africa which helps children who are the survivors of a disease called Noma. These children are often impoverished and malnourished and after this disease are left with horrible facial disfigurements.

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