Sunday, April 01, 2007

Death on the Marathon Des Sables

Well, I'm back from Tenerife. I survived my training, but only just. I'll create a whole post about Tenerife, separate to this one as I have plenty to say and lots of pictures to see.

If you have been following this years MDS using the links I posted then you will know this already. If not, then the 2007 Marathon Des Sables has just finished. Overall it looks like the conditions were more favourable this year. The humidity was back to normal. Last year about 150 people retired, this year it's looks to be just 30. The humidity looks to have averaged around 15%, and not the 30-40% of last year. The one day the humidity made it to 18% the temperature mercifully dropped to 33C. This was the long day (double marathon) stage, so I bet the competitors were thankful for that! However, for one competitor the long day was his last. Very sadly, a French competitor, Bernard Julé, died in his sleep after completing the long day stage successfully; he was just 49 years old.
The full press release can be found here

Other websites go into more detail, only to say he was flown to hospital by helicopter where they later confirmed he had died of a heart attack. What stunned me is that this guy looks to have been a superb athlete. He had finished the long day in 45th place. Out of 750 competitors that is no mean feat. He even got up to greet other tent-mates in the night, and then passed away in the 3 hours before sunrise. There is nothing anyone could have done in this case. He sought no medical aid at any point, his ECG will have been normal just to gain entry. A minutes silence was held the next day, and the eventual winner of the whole event held up a placard with his number on as he crossed the line.

In better news, Alan completed this years MDS successfully. I've been getting daily updates from his boss and kept an eye on his progress. I've yet to hear the full story, but I'm sure I will when he returns from Morocco. I can only imagine he is elated, after the disappointment of retiring through injury last year. Well done to Alan, I look forward to hearing all your news.

So, MDS 2007 is over. The countdown begins now. Less than 365 days to go before my turn!

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