Sunday, August 19The Voice of London

MdS Expo 2015: Inspiring Young Londoners To Push Fitness To The Next Level

According to the Discovery Channel, the Marathon des Sables is considered as ‘the toughest footrace on earth’, taking a sporting challenge to new heights. As a Londoner, it’s important to occasionally step aside the busy lifestyle, and do something for yourself, something life-changing…and this offers you exactly that. The MdS Expo on the 28 Nov 2015 is a chance to feel inspired and excited about a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Words: Gemma Smith, Subeditor: Jade Ratcliffe

The Marathon des Sables may appear to be a different language to most people, and that’s what makes this foot race so unique. It’s a ‘hidden gem’ and if, like me, you’re wondering how you can get involved and find out what the fuss is about, then fear not…

An exclusive international exhibition is coming up in just eight days time to showcase the Marathon des Sables. But what exactly is it?

This extraordinary race is one of the toughest multi-stage adventures that exists. It is held annually on one of the most bizarre landscapes ever, especially for such a gruelling sports challenge. The Sahara desert! Sounds fun but crazy at the same time, right?

Source: Steve Diederich -
Source: Steve Diederich –

Speaking to the Managing Director of Marathon des Sables UK – (the UK and Ireland) and arm of the MdS, Steve Diederich said: “The Marathon des Sables attracts a large age range of runners – the youngest being 16. It is now used commonly as a foundation stone for CV building.”

Participants during the race and in preparation need to be self-sufficient as a key, but most Londoners naturally have this trait working and living in the city…so it means you’re already off to a good start!

Steve continued: “Once upon a time a Duke of Edinburgh award would impress a potential employer. Nowadays, it is a MdS finish, as it demonstrates to employers that you are self-sufficient, goal orientated and can face adversity head on through determination, planning and preparation. There is, of course, the small matter of the challenge itself. If you can raise the entry fee (approx £4000), often done through charity fundraising – this adds even more weight to your CV as it shows your ability to competently market yourself and commercialise a goal…”

Source: Steve Diederich -
Source: Steve Diederich –

The Managing Director of Marathon des Sables UK explained why raising the funds for such a trip is worth it, and what sort of people tend to get involved. This Marathon is for people from all walks of life and, of course, the benefits are impressive.

“Your investment is substantial as the mental, physical and training schedules are punishing – the race is hard but equally the rewards are phenomenal. The discoveries  you make about yourself when you have nowhere to hide are significant and genuinely life changing. This is the not, however, the preserve of the athletic elite – we have blind people, paraplegics, recovering alcoholics and substance abusers, people who come in every shape and size. Some walk, some run, most do a combination of both.”

What they all have in common is the desire to overcome the seemingly impossible and take that with them on their life journey”.

Source: Steve Diederich -
Source: Steve Diederich –

The historical roots stemmed in 1986 by Patrick Bauer and continues to grow in popularity every year. People share unforgettable days and hardships with one another, and as a Londoner, you will not only be breaking sporting boundaries for yourself, but you will also gain friendships with people from all over the globe.

It is an opportunity to plan something remarkable, and as the 2016 entry is now closed, the 2017 Marathon des Sables gives you something to aim for and most importantly, prepare for.

So why should you attend the MdS Expo?

The MdS Expo is primarily for competitors for the Marathon des Sables but acts as an inspiration to attract new participants. Steve said: “It is a day’s immersion in what it will be like to run, walk and shuffle through the Sahara desert for six days, being entirely self-sufficient over 260 Kms, carrying your food, cooking equipment, clothing, and bedding in the heat, that typically knocks on 50 Degrees.”

Source: Steve Diederich -
Source: Steve Diederich –

This will now be the 30th year celebrating Marathon des Sables, one of the largest, oldest and toughest Ultra running races on the planet. On average, it attracts 1300 runners.

The MdS Expo on 28 Nov 2015 is at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London, so there are no excuses on not attending. Not only that but the tickets are FREE – you just have to pay a £50 deposit to confirm your place and this gets refunded afterwards. Reserve your spot here.

Steve explained just how much effort goes into making this Marathon possible for people like you and me, and how much staff is actually needed.

“The logistics to making this work are phenomenal and require 500+ staff. Helicopters, aeroplanes, army lorries, food trucks (for the workers) and teams of Berbere tribesman help to put up and dismantle a whole town each day in the desert.”

Graeme Harvey, guest speaker at the upcoming event said that he will be giving a speech on what necessities you’ll need to take with you whilst on this awesome adventure.

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Harvey also shared his opinion of who he thinks this escapade is aimed at:

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So if this sounds like you, please get in touch with Steve Diederich via email ( and he will be more than happy to put you on his guest list for the MdS Expo.

“We leave a few places open on the Expo for people who are curious as to what this world has to offer” explained Steve Diederich.

Some extra info…just in case that wasn’t enough to entice you!

Ultra running races have exploded over the past decade – with some 1600 now being organised around the world. 10 years ago, if you met someone who partook in a marathon, there was a ratio to be quizzed as to why they would do such a crazy thing. Now, you can hardly throw a stick in London and it not land on somebody who has done a Marathon…and often in fancy dress.

Those same enthusiasts are now exploring trail running after discovering that their previous marathon distances were simply not cutting it. Now 50km races have become the new marathons of 100km and multi-day races in some extraordinary places; just like the Sahara desert. 

Don’t hold back! Take that first step to achieving one of the Greatest Sporting Marathons that there is in the world.