Captain Joe Dinwiddie has just completed the 2019 Marathon Des Sables, and obviously there is no one better placed to describe the experience than he himself:
The Marathon Des Sables can only be described as a journey of a lifetime but the journey isn’t just the race itself. My Journey started 10 months ago in Afghanistan, on Op TORAL 6, where WO2 Cope and I ran the Newport half and the Cardiff Marathon in (or 37 laps of) the New Kabul Compound. It continued with training in many of the UK’s beautiful National Parks (in snow, rain or sunshine), it included sustaining and partial recovering from injury, sweating in hot baths and saunas as heat acclimation and the unfortunate loss of my running partner, WO2 Cope, the day before our flight to Morocco. An eventful and sad way to start the first day of MDS.
This year, the MDS consisted of 800 competitors carrying all their food and equipment to be self-sufficient over 227km of sand dunes under the searing heat of the Moroccan Sahara desert. The race is as formidable as it is beautiful but it is the participants that make it extraordinary. There are a few competitors that deserve mention by exception; Ex Green Beret Ivan Castro, blinded on active service, ran the MDS with a guide; Kevin Webber was diagnosed with terminal Cancer and given three months to live three years ago, he ran his 4th MDS in 4 years whilst receiving daily chemotherapy, his determination brought a different dynamic to the race - utterly inspirational. There were also two amputees with prosthetics and Rob Pope, the real (British) Forest Gump who has run across America nearly five times, covering over 15,000 miles.
The MDS journey is a truly awesome experience, it’s an exposure to the superhuman, some individuals can literally complete death defying deeds and it proves that the anecdote “mind over matter” has a place in reality. It was a pleasure to put into context the physical achievement of our very own Capt Thomas Evans 28 who came 3rd overall in the 2017 MDS.
I have been incredibly fortunate to be supported by the Welsh Guards Trustees, without whom I would not have been able to complete the MDS. The experience should not be underrated and I would recommend this as a regular feature for soldiers and officers alike.
Thank you to all those who have supported me in raising money for the Welsh Guards Charity, the money raised will support soldiers and families in need as a consequence of service with the Welsh Guards.