Dessert Runner


I recently saw this movie called Desert Runners which is about this group of runners attempting the “Grand Slam,” which means they will attempt to finish 4 desert ultramarathons in one calendar year. According to the movie, the first person to have completed the Grand Slam is “Ultramarathon Man” Dean Karnazes. The 4 desert races are: Atacama Crossing (Chile) which is known as the driest desert in the world, Gobi March (China) the windiest desert in the world, Sahara Race (Egypt) the hottest desert in the world, and the Last Desert (Antarctica) which is the coldest desert in the world.

Each race is a multi-day event. The official website says it’s 250km over 7 days but in the movie they say it’s 5. Each runner needs to carry all the supplies he\she’ll need on their back. Each day is pretty much a marathon across the desert until the final stage which is about 90km. They don’t talk about cutoff times in the movie and I don’t see any mention of it on the site so I think the whole objective is just to make it across even if it takes all day and night.

It was a pretty neat movie. There aren’t too many ultrarunning movies streaming instantly on Netflix. I don’t think there are any, actually. I liked seeing how these runners would push themselves. Some of them mentioned how they had never covered so much mileage before in their life. One guy at the beginning of the movie said that he wanted to start getting back in shape because he took the stairs one day instead of the escalator and he was huffing and puffing at the top trying to catch his breath but he was only in his early 30’s (been there, done that). He decided to sign up for an ultra having never before done a marathon or even a 10k. This other guy, when talking about the final stage of the first race is asked if he’s ever done 90km before, laughed and said that he’s never even done a 50km before. These examples are good motivation for me because I have never even done a marathon before (DNF’d in a 50k) but am training to do a 100 mile race.

The escalator guy, or as I call him, the American guy gives a few pointers about racing. He talks about protecting your feet, gives some tips on how to deal with blisters, the importance of keeping baby wipes in your bag, and other stuff like that. He also said something that I think many people might agree with. He said that the hardest part of anything is the training leading up to it. Every day training and working your butt off in preparation for the big race. The race is the easy part because you’ve already put in the work. Now you just gotta go out and do it. Depending on what race you signed up for, you’ll be done in a few hours or a day, but the training lasts weeks, months, or even years. When everybody else is out partying and having a fun time, you’re making time at the track or at the gym. Everybody is eating and drinking whatever they want, you’re eating carefully selected food that helps get you to your goals. It’s all hard work but in the end it’s all worth it. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “when you’re out there partying, horsing around, someone out there at the same time is working hard, somebody is getting smarter, and someone is winning.”

I found this movie to be fun to watch and motivating for me. Of course, this being Christmas and New Year’s week, I haven’t been as disciplined as I should be. I’ve been lagging it on my workouts, my runs, my nutrition. So far, instead of training like a desert runner, I’ve been eating like a dessert runner. But now all the junk is out of the fridge: all the cake, soda, tamales, etc… Today I’m back at the gym, back at the track, and most importantly, back on track.

I’ve been sore this whole weekend following the 10k I did on Friday. Even though I got smoked, I think my time was pretty good, especially for being at least 80-90lbs heavier than the other two runners. I’ve been sore but I feel good. I am more motivated now to train even harder and to run even harder at my next race. I am already visualizing the soreness that will come from running 100 miles and it will all be worth it. Arnold says that “pain makes me grow. Growth is what I want. Therefore, for me, pain is pleasure.”  I think he’s also the one that says “no pain, no gain.” These next few months I am going to be focused on conquering my upcoming races and setting some PR’s. No Pain, No Gain.

13 weeks until Tough Mudder

20 weeks until Born to Run 100 mile ultra

42 weeks until 100 mile Endurance Challenge