« just for the pleasure »
This is Sylvie’s 9th MDS but for the first time she’s worried due
to a health problem that’s seriously handicapped her ability to prepare
for the race. For several months she simply couldn’t train either with
or without back-pack. This year she’s decided to take most pleasure in « following » who’s
out in front. She wants to have a laugh and enjoy running with her darling – the
infamous Michel Bach aka the Indian (19 MDS under his belt) plus run for the
charity Droit au cœur which has been active in various aid operations during
Marathon des Sables (solar water pump, renovation of school buildings, orphanage
in Ouarzazate). Droit au cœur is helping finance the orphanage and will
equip seven Moroccan schools.
Sylvie is apprehensive about starting the race tomorrow but will still be there “for
the pure pleasure »
Sylvie Cadierno: « It’s
pancake night »
Sylvie’s had a very busy day. Having
helped the organisation distribute water
at the finish line, she’s returned
to her first role since pulling out of the
race: welcoming competitors.
But her mind is really only on her « Mimi » aka
Michel Bach. So despite the blisters, she
decides to walk back into the race to welcome
him back in.
We find them in their tent chatting away
and preparing the “special last
For these hardened marathon runners, there’s
one tradition you just can’t do without
and that crepes with Grand Marnier. They
divide the equipment between them before
the start of the race. One takes the frying
pan, the other the pancake mix and the Grand
Marnier. There’s enough for around
«It’s a tradition to mark the end of MDS. There’s a lot of
emotion on the finish line, the struggle’s come an end and so we’ve
designed this special evening to stop us getting all melancholy». It’s
even got a bit of a reputation on the bivouac.
Sadly Sylvie can’t be at the party because she has to eat with the organisation.
Luckily for us it means she can shed light on this special marathon stage (42,2
We all have our landmarks and know very quickly if we’re on time or not ».
Depending on how it goes, the result is either very positive or utterly demoralising.
Hence the emotion at the finish line, although Sylvie never imagined it would
be quite so intense, particularly alongside the organisation. It’s proven
to be a new experience for Sylvie, and one she’s not ready to forget.
Sylvie Cadierno : The longest day
It’s day 2 of the 70.5km stage and
for Sylvie it’s seemed very long indeed.
Having been convoyed yesterday by the organisation
onto the finish line of the 4th stage, she
had to wait til the end of the day to finally
welcome in the first competitors.
positive side is that for the first time
I was able to see the Ahansal brothers come
in. It’s incredible, especially Lahcen’s
with a double loop throw in”. The 2-day stage is central to the whole
race. A lot of people are nervous on the eve of the long stage and compensate
even more of a laugh. “I saw a lot of tears shed at the start of the
stage, but it’s also when you see a certain complicity starting up between
the competitors. I’ve never had this apprehension because, like a lot of
participants, I plan my race preparation around this 2-day stage”.
This year and for the first time, Sylvie has spent the day with other runners
that have pulled out. “Lots of discussions, except with the English
who just slept their way through it”. Sylvie then waited for the competitors
and checked how accurate her tent-mates’ estimated arrival time were.
Spot on. Could it be that Guy has found his master!!!!
« loads of pleasure… and
a bit of boredom »
When competitors wake up on MARATHON DES
SABLES, they each have their own ritual and
it’s all timed down to the last minute.
Sylvie’s not what you’d call
a morning person and the first thing she
does is to air the bedroom. In MDS language
this means putting all her stuff outside
the tent before gently coming round to the
land of the living. Then it’s time
for breakfast, very important, and “just
like at home”: hot chocolate and “chocky
Replete and now wide-awake, Sylvie goes off
to the bathroom, in other words walks quarter
of an hour to find a quiet spot for her toilette.
Back on the bivouac it’s time for a
chat with the team and prepare the back-back,
vital to making sure the stage goes off in
the best possible conditions. The softest
things (clothes, sleeping bag) at the bottom
and against the back and the heaviest at
the top and also against the back. And the
heaviest? Tins of sardines no less.. to compensate
for the large amounts of fat burnt during
Once the bag is packed Sylvie heads off calmly
to the start line with race mates – the
chance for one last gossip.
But not this morning ! Now that Sylvie’s
pulled out of the race, she has to get up
even earlier and join the organisation for
breakfast, and no “chocky bickies” in
sight. She then gets bored while waiting
for the first of her friends to return to
the bivouac. Being reunited with the competitors
is still a huge pleasure … even if
it wasn’t a planned part of the race
Sylvie Cadierno : pulls out but still smiling
Not enough time to prepare, a bout of sciatica
and poorly-adapted trainers all got the better
She had no time to find a pair of new trainers,
so took a pair that had already done two
MARATHON DES SABLES, freshened them up in
the washing-machine but didn’t realise
they’d shrunk. Stage 2 of the race
reminded her, sadly, of the perils of a quick
I’d protected most of my toe ails,
but the one that had been silent up to now
came forward and woke up all the rest ».
Result: the skin drops off most of her toes
and she’s forced to pull out 10km into
But the pleasure of sharing is never far
away where Sylvie is concerned : she soon
installs herself at the finish line to encourage
competitors as they come in.
I’ll stay on the bivouac and cheer people up when they’ve
got the blues after a difficult stage ». That’s our Sylvie… always
in it for the pleasure.
beautiful stage with ideal weather »
Sylvie finished with a smile on her face and
the satisfaction of having run a good stage.
Her health worries did nothing to dampen her
enthusiasm in completing this tricky stage,
with its fair share of challenges. And yet
for her dunes and climbing djebels are part
of the pleasure: “it was a real surprise,
for the first time we were running in fields
of flowers smelling of mint and rosemary”.
It’s true that this desert in bloom has
come as a surprise for many participants.
Sylvie preferred not to wait for partner Michel
Bach, but was there to motivate him at the
finish line. Michel has two good reasons for
finishing his 19th MARATHON DES SABLES : the
charity he founded - Droit au Cœur – and
to be reunited with Sylvie every evening on
the memory of Darbaroud
For the last ten years I’ve been obsessively
copying all the information on the Darbaroud site
into notebooks, along with all the competitor’s
Guy, a radiologist, has become a specialist on
the Marathon des Sables. From what special food
to eat to how to chose your equipment «where every
gram counts ». « I’ve spent the last year trying out everything
on the market… gels, energy bars, drinks… in every possible flavour”.
Guy shares his knowledge on the Darbaroud site forum everyday. In 1997 he decided
to run the Marathon des Sables but an accident 2 months before the start forced
him to pull out. “I took my revenge by running 12 marathons in the year”.
But he only did his first MDS last year. It proved a revelation and «spending
a week without crossing a road, or a town : that’s life for me”
Guy will be setting off tomorrow on « the most beautiful desert race
that exists » with his team-mates from GRAINDEFOY-XTREM Team.
Guy Giaoui : my new friend
Guy was meant to
tell us about decorating his back-pack. « Let’s leave
that aside for the moment, I’ve discovered
a hero on the bivouac. »
It’s none other than Abderrahmane Maliki
(MOR – D25). Third in the general rankings
in 2006, Abderrahmane was in third place
at the start of stage 4 (70,5 km) and in
top form. He consulted Guy before the start
of the race.
Guy bumps into him just after CP 1 (10.5kms
into the race), he’s limping and in
great pain. They do around 20kms together
but as Guy wants to get back in as quickly
as possibly he abandons Abderrahmane, however
The following day Guy discovers Abderrahmane
has slept over at KM52 and got in after 26h
and 40 minutes of racing. Last year he did
the stage in less than 7 hours!
This morning Abderrahmane helped Guy mend
his gaiters and they’ve struck up quite
a friendship. « I’m going to
take care of his dietary preparation for
his upcoming races and for next year ; he
deserves to win this race ».
At the start of today’s stage Abderrhamane
set off humbly like any ordinary runner whereas
at the same time last year he was heading
for a place on the podium.
Most « pros » would have pulled
out, but not Mr Maliki who was given a raucous
round of applause from his fellow competitors
for sticking with the race.
«He’s brought us, the runners without the stripes as it were, back
Guy Giaoui : the specialist encounters technical
We first join Guy just before the start
of this big stage, giving a consultation
in his tent. Some competitors, especially
those out for a place in the rankings, are
here to get advice on how to recuperate best.
He just has time to tell us when he expects
to go through CP 4 ( KM 42). « It’ll
take me 8 hours ».
Now let’s move ahead to the 2nd day
of this long stage where Guy is back on the
bivouac, in his tent.
He may be reluctant to complain in general
but admits to having really suffered on this
long stage. And what’s even more unusual
for such a specialist on equipment: his back-pack
is broken. « I’ve had it since
2000, it’s perhaps a bit old, I should
have paid more attention ». Just goes
to show that the man who’s so keen
to give tips and advice doesn’t always
follow his own advice.
The incessant comings and goings of the
4x4… keeping an eye on our health.
The locals laid down on the side of the road,
whose tv viewing is watching these mad competitors
go by with bumps on their backs.»
For this Cartesian keen on analysis, Guy
is turning all poetical. Could it be the
double effect of the desert?
As for his estimated
time, Guy overshot it by 20 minutes….
Hardly significant compared to the 8 hours.
He finished the
70.5km in 19 hours 21 minutes and 41 seconds.
Tomorrow Guy wants to tell us about decorating
his back-pack !
The Darbaroud hard-disk
Guy under canvas at the end of this third stage.
He’s just back in and
has already been called upon for advice on
foot blisters. And while we’re on the
subject, Guy has seven, …. considerably
fewer than the average in his tent.
This was the hottest day of his life and
he was very concerned about other competitors
not hydrating properly. As a doctor, he considers
all the runners as his patients. For the
simple pleasure of being of service.
Guy had worries of his own today and this
is saying something from someone who refuses
to complain. A 10cm thorn long managed to
get through the soles of his trainers and
lodge itself deep in his foot. Nothing too
serious in the end and a competitor helped
him get it out thanks to Guy’s “emergency
kit” – as precise and complete
as a doctor’s cabinet and a tool workshop
rolled into one. For once it wasn’t
Guy helping even if it relied on very precise
instructions from the specialist himself.
As for his predicted finish times, could
it be that Guy’s been out in the sun
too long? Yesterday he took more than half
an hour than he’d predicted and today
he was 45 minutes ahead of time. But there
were loads of dunes it’s true and Guy,
as you know, is something of an expert in
the field. Even the telly filmed him today!
Tomorrow 70 km. Guy’s planning on doing
the 42kms to get to CP4 in 7 or 8 hours.
Will he or won’t he ? Watch this space.
Guy Giaoui : specialist’s forecasts
encounter technical hitch
As you’ll remember yesterday, Guy announced he’d complete today’s
stage in 6h45 maxi. It turned out to be 7h22. So what happened ? “A terrible
traffic jam in Piccadilly Circus” you might say.
Despite it all he comes in fresh as a daisy; reflecting his belief you have
to take the first three stages easy.
Two « rough » first stages but also dream stages for our bivouac
consultant. Just one worry, the hygrometry level which he thinks was high according
to his own technical barometer.
When Guy runs he likes to empty his head, think of nothing, and yet for the
second time he’s landed on a female competitor that sings the whole time,
and worse still, the same old song. Could this be a new motivational technique
that had so far escaped Guy’s extensive analysis ? No way of knowing
since she avoids all contact and that’s rather annoying for Guy who so
adores sharing and giving advice throughout the year.
No prognostic for today, Guy is returning to his little hints and tips, so
valued by many competitors. And no question of fatigue. The ultra-marathon
runner forbids all talk.
One question is bugging him however: how to patent his technique for getting
over the dunes, as efficient as ever today, according to our specialist.
Consultant on the bivouac
Need advice ? Head to tent N° 30 ! Our expert
on food and above all equipment is handing out
ready advice to competitors having problems with
shoes or back-packs.
While he forgot the special glue to repair one
competitor’s trainers…. Guy can now
add handy cobbler to his list of tricks that
even extend to accurate estimates of how long
the stage will take. He arrived today exactly
at the time he’d set himself. For tomorrow
he’s banking on doing the 35km in 6h45.
But even on the course itself, he offers advice.
Today it was how to cross a dune and get a good
«It’s very simple, on the way up you do toe heel and on the way down
heel toe. Last year I overtook everyone on four consecutive dunes”.
We’ll leave Guy to his consulting until tomorrow when we’ll see how
accurate he was with his estimated time of arrival : 6h45 ?