17 years ago was the last time I did the 'Toughest Footrace in the World', 153 miles, self-sufficient (10kg approx.), in temperatures up to 50C/150F, across the North Sahara desert, the equivalent of 6 marathons back-to-back in 6 days.
Hitting a landmark age, it was always my intention that when I did I would do this again.
It was only recently disclosed by the organisers that this will be not only the longest in the MdS 30 years history at 259KM, but also the 'sandiest'!! - They were right
I have also been recently diagnosed with a fully-blown neuroma in my foot, resulting in a total of 5 steroid injections into my foot before heading off.
Well, sadly my adventure came to an end earlier than I would have liked. The Sahara didn't beat me - regrettably my right foot did, as I anticipated.
The First Stage was brutal - many veterans testified to it being the toughest in the event's 31 year history. Many competitors didn't even get to the 1st Checkpoint after the gruelling 14KM of the highest dunes in Africa needed to be traversed. Many times that first day I considered quitting; feet on fire, prescribed painkillers making no difference and the sheer endurance of the 31KM of soft sand, high dunes, vicious sandstorms and blistering heat taking it's toll.
Arriving back at camp 9hrs 20 mins after starting, I went to my bivvie and met my fellow tent-mates. Everyone was punished from that day. I slept and the next morning concluded that my foot was not improved on the day before and I would be continuing with diminishing returns and extremely unlikely to finish the entire event. A very very tough decision, but I concluded my race was ended.
Having completed this once before, I have the medal. I will cherish this now even more.
I can only extend my enormous gratitude and thanks to those of you who've given your time and money to donate to this great cause. And those of you still thinking to, please do. It's a fantastic cause.
So, why Cats? The supporting of Cat Protection is close to my heart (those of you who are close friends, will know this already).