How does The Coastal Challenge compare to Marathon des Sables?

I ran quite a few miles with Lynden Kemp from West Sussex, an experienced multi-stage racer from whom I learnt a great deal. His answer to my question, “Don’t you get bored?” has made my longer training runs since The Coastal Challenge way more interesting, following his advice to listen out for the wildlife, look at birds, and focus on the surrounding scenery whatever it may be. And also to think of long runs as a privilege rather than a chore. Thanks Lynden! He has also done Marathon des Sables, so I asked him how it compares to The Coastal Challenge as obviously both are super hot – the main reason I found it so tough.

Lynden on the beach, he's not naked it was just really hot! ;)
Lynden on the beach after a hard day of trail running, he’s not naked it was just really hot! 😉

Lynden said:

I signed up for TCC only 8.5weeks before the start of the race. The reason for my training being so short was that I tore ligaments in my left ankle at the end of August. My first ankle recovery training was in mid November, when I did a trip to the Cairngorms to bag a few new Munros. On my return my ankle felt much stronger, so I started running on it again and continued with my race prep. I never did a huge amount of training for the race (I never do), mainly due to family commitments and work. I got my weekly mileage to peak at about 40ish miles per week.

As I’ve now been lucky enough to complete the Marathon des Sables (MdS) and The Coastal Challenge (TCC) as well as the Everest Trail Race. I was asked which I thought was harder the MdS or the TCC…

They are both very different races and thus very hard to compare, but here’s my MdS v TCC:

·      one is hot and dry the other hot and humid.

·      one has 750+ competitors the other has approx 50 competitors.

·      one has you running in a procession of runners the other you maybe running on your own for several hours.

·      One you have to be self-sufficient the other you get fed like a king.

·      One is cold at night the other is the same temp 24 hours a day.

·      Both races I picked up a couple of blisters.

·      Both races there was amazing camaraderie amongst fellow competitors.

·      After both races the first beer tasted divine…

On the MdS I had trouble keeping the sand out of my trainers and probably didn’t have the correct gaitors for myself.

On the day 1 of the TCC I forgot my race snacks for the stage. This really put me on edge and unsettled me for the majority of the first stage. But banana and fresh pineapple at their aid stations made a very good substitute.

For me the thing I love about all the races I’ve done is the scenery you see during each stage, its my motivation each day, it keeps me pushing forward. Humans have genetically evolved as persistence hunters, which means we’re designed to do multi day ultras. You just have to convince your brain that it can do it. Not finishing isn’t an option…so don’t ever consider it!

Be content in your own space and don’t let your inner demons ever get the upper hand.

Thanks Lynden! See him and read all about The Coastal Challenge in this issue of Trail Running magazine, on sale 14 May.

New issue of Trail Running magazine with The Coastal Challenge article inside, p48. Find your nearest shop here and subscribe here.
New issue of Trail Running magazine with The Coastal Challenge article inside, p48. Find your nearest shop here and subscribe here.
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