MDS 2015: Pricing up the dream

30ème Sultan Marathon des Sables - Journey to the Sahara, 2015

Money, money, money. Yes, it must be funny in a rich man’s world! A rich man would not really have to worry about the cost implications of entering, preparing for and running the Marathon des Sables – I imagine their stress levels to be much lower than my own and those of us who have to figure out how we are going to pay for such an expensive race!

I still can’t quite fathom the cost involved in this – it’s not just the registration and entry fees, it’s the equipment, the insurance and the races and other training that needs to be paid for that adds up. I have to keep reminding myself that I want to do this, I’m not being forced to do it and that it will be money well spent. That said, when you look at other races of similar duration on similar terrain you will notice that they don’t cost near as much to register for and enter. Granted, if you want to run these races well then you will still need to pay for the gear, the training and the racing but it does make me wonder why the Marathon des Sables charges so much compared to other desert races?! I’m going to leave that alone for now though and move on to a considered cost breakdown, I’m no financial analyst or accountant so this won’t be technical or complicated!

Registration/Fees: £3150

Insurance: c.£100

Race Entry 1: £53 (Grim Reaper 40)

Race Entry 2: £80 (Frankfurt Marathon)

Race Entry 3: £25 (Derwentwater 15km Trail Race)

Race Entry 4: £245 (XNRG MDS Package: Pilgrim Challenge & Druid Challenge)

Race Entry 5: £37 (Reading Half Marathon)

Heat Acclimation: £285 (5 sessions)

Kit: £600 (this is an estimate based on lightweight kit inc. sleeping bag – likely to be more when factoring in powders, gels and miscellaneous bits and bobs)

Miscellaneous: £300 (always nice to have a buffer to cover unexpected costs along the way!)

TOTAL (est.): £4875 (Cost per KM: £19.50)

The list and pricing above is by no means comprehensive as other people may want to factor in training seminars or weekends (which are readily available from a number or sources), coaching and various other things such as gym memberships, running club fees and travelling to and from training races and club cross country league races! I for one will certainly be rejoining a club so I can run the winter cross country leagues along with regional and national cross country championships, according to Danny Kendall and others it is a great way to prepare for racing in the desert as the conditions underfoot are often less than ideal for racing compared to summer trails and roads.

In all honesty I will be taking out a loan to cover my race entry fees and the rest will fall into place as I use my surplus monthly income to pay for various bits of equipment, acclimation training further down the line and race entries. With regard to the race entries, I would most likely have entered this many races with or without a spot secured at the MDS so it’s no real skin off my nose. Running for me is one of the most social things I do even though I often train alone. I love to go to races and to mingle with other runners and travelling around the country to race and, indeed the world, is something I’m happy to spend my money on! In a way I guess I’m lucky to have a supportive girlfriend as well – the cost of the MDS means that going out for meals and other ‘normal’ couple things is being scaled back in favour of the racing and training aspect of things. I have no idea how people in a similar financial position to myself with family to support and with partners who may be less than understanding manage to cope with the stress of it all!

As April 2015 approaches I may review the finances, my training and fitness levels and then decide to take on a race specific coach to complement what I’m already doing – we will see though! You can’t put a price on a dream but it certainly does help to get together some costings if you want to make it happen – you get nothing for free in this life and, as my dearly departed Nan would say; “There are no shops in the graveyard!”

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