In 2008, Jordi Pitarch-Marquino had the adventure of a lifetime. From 27th of March he took part in the 23rd Marathon des Sables, a race covering 151 miles over 6 days in the Sahara desert.
Jordi has first-hand experience of what it means to have a close relative living with and fighting cancer until reaching the point at which science and hope are completely exhausted. By racing this marathon Jordi wants to keep alive the memory of his sister Patricia who died of lung cancer, and also help to raise important funds for AICR with which to finance new cancer treatments and hopefully save many lives around the world.
Here are Jordi's daily updates from the desert:
There is no written update for the final day, rather Jordi sent us the following video. Considering the extreme nature of the race I have to say that he is looking good on it. Everyone here at AICR is immensely proud of Jordi and his amazing achievement.
Here's the video:
"I'm so happy I made the marathon stage. I love the experience here and the reason why I'm doing it. I know that me being here helps AICR to raise awareness of their work and perhaps will make other people to be more altruistic too, so I'm very proud of having the support of AICR and the rest of friends, colleagues and loved ones and all those who are supporting my challenge in one way or other. But after tomorrow's last stage what I really want is to come back to the freshness of Edinburgh! Tomorrow is the last stage of the MDS08 and thanks to you all for your support - I know that I'll be at the other end of the finish line."
Day 4 - after the double marathon day
"I'm through the hardest stage of the race and I think that, blisters permitting -I've got a new one- I've got a foot in the final stage in Tazzarine. Yesterday was pretty hard. We started at about 9am with only 3hrs sleep most of us thanks to a sand storm at night from midnight till 4am. Temperature was milder about 39 with some breeze but there were many mountains to climb. The scenery yesterday was beautiful, with incredible gorges, salt lakes we had to cross and mountains of dunes all over. Today not even the Moroccans can walk straight but we've got the whole day to rest. I finished a bit before 11pm so it took me almost 14hrs to finish the stage. Some runners who were too tired or sore to continue decided to sleep on the way and they're still arriving! I managed to get some batteries so I'm still filming and taking good pics for Edinburgh. Tomorrow is the marathon day and I think that it's going to feel like 20 marathons!"
"The 3rd day of the race is over with me through and I have to say I'm quite pleased of my performance today. There were 40.5 Km of mixed terrain with sand dunes and rocky stones and about 40 c but I slept much better last night and the heat didn't bother me as much as yesterday so I finished in 7 hrs 11 mins - quite a decent time. Tomorrow is the double marathon day and there are many people with difficulties already to even walk. Some veterans are saying already that this year the stages are pretty tough and they just feel like that. A good night sleep is essential tonight for getting through tomorrow and most people are already in bed. Say to everyone that I'm still on although tomorrow is going to be awful!"
"I made the second stage of the race. There were 38 km that felt like 300, with temperatures of 40+ degrees. It was mostly rocky terrain with ocassional dunes, but I had a pretty rough time with the blister in my right foot and some pain in the left. Apart from that I'm OK. I finished in 7 hrs 26 mins and I am with energy for the 41 km of tomorrow's stage which is going to be with lots of dunes and same temperature.
P.S. I'm running out of batteries for the camera...."
"I've finished the gruelling first day of the race. It was hot but not too bad even for some of the Scots I've spoken to. The 14 km of sand dunes at the beginning took its toll quickly, with a blister on the back of my right foot. I had to stop to treat it a couple of times and I couldn't run after but I managed to walk fast till the end. My body is pretty sore now after 6:40 of race but I should be ok for tomorrow. The back pack feels heavy but I've got only the necessary although other runners carry much less weight than me. Tomorrow's stage is a bit longer, about 34 km, but the terrain will be less hard than today. "
When we spoke to Jordi before he set off he told us, "With your support and that of AICR I am ready to undertake this challenge: to give many cancer patients hope for a longer and better life and keep my promise that Patricia will never die. And I won’t let you down!"