Caerphilly man aiming for a Top 50 finish in the World’s Toughest Race
With an eight year background in the Royal Marines, Lewis Stallard (35) from Caerphilly is no stranger to gruelling physical demands but April 7th 2015 marks the start of a very different challenge; to finish amongst the top 50 elite runners in the World’s toughest footrace, the Marathon des Sables set in the Moroccan Sahara desert.
The MdS is the ultimate ultra-marathon. 156 miles across shifting sand dunes and mountainous rocky outcrops, in temperatures in excess of 50 degrees centigrade, the racers must each carry all their own provisions to see them through to the end; this includes their provisions, water for the day and everything else from sleeping bags through to the mandatory emergency kit for treating blisters!
Lewis’ preparation training has so far involved running distances of 20 miles or more across terrain as varied as the Brecon Beacons (particularly the Western half which is largely untracked and devoid of people) to hard-packed Welsh forest tracks through to Wales’ very own desert, the sand dunes at Merthyr Mawr.
“Physical preparation is obviously crucial” says Lewis, “but perhaps what most people do not understand is that the challenge is almost entirely a mental one. The combination of terrain, temperature, vast distances and the need to be self-sustaining are a perfect storm that can overwhelm the senses and has meant disaster for some athletes in the past. Yet the allure of the wilderness is a surprisingly humanising process. To be amongst it allows you to think more deeply and feel more keenly.”
As a very wise Frenchman once said, “Things become a lot simpler in the desert”.
Lewis will be racing for the Matt Hampson foundation, which provides advice, support, relief and treatment for people suffering serious injury or disability. As part of the fundraising efforts, Lewis is hosting a screening of the Hollywood classic Casablanca at The Maxime Cinema in Blackwood on Sunday 22nd March. Joining him there will be Welsh actor and running enthusiast Richard Harrington, star and lead in the BBC series Hinterland and a former competitor himself in the Marathon des sables. The event will start with a champagne reception and a short talk by Richard at 7.00pm with the movie commencing at 7.45pm.
Anybody who wishes to attend, can find more information by visiting https://www.facebook.com/events/641297846016410/ and RSVP’ing accordingly. Places are limited and entrance fee is £12 on the night.
For further information visit Lewis’s Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/Lewis-Stallard)