The main aim of heading to Kent the night before the flight was to take the stress out of getting to Gatwick and to get a lift to the airport. This worked well, although there weren’t that many other MdS competitors who were waved off by their mum and dad.
At check in, and indeed throughout the airport, it was obvious who was heading for the MdS as everyone had either a red and grey Raidlight pack, and orange Aarn pack or an OMM pack and was wearing trainers with Velcro attached – one guy even had his gaiters on despite a distinct lack of sand at the airport.
|We're not nervous, honest.|
I met up with the rest of my tent-mates and others who we knew previously. We’d sorted our tent group out using the wonders of Facebook, based around the people we’d met on the Racekit training weekend back in October 2011. They were: Paula, Mark, James, Andy, Colin, Elisabet, Rich and I. There was a lot of nervous anticipation before the flight and so much talk about kit choices, training completed, race plans, and all things MdS. None of that helped with the nerves especially and I was oscillating between being very excited to be finally going, and feeling totally unprepared for such an undertaking given my on-going injuries and perceived slow pace in training.
|That's a lot of desert.|
Once in Ouazarzate we encountered our first queue of what would turn out to be many over the coming week or so. Passport control took over 2 hours to clear, which given there were only 2 flights to process was a little unnecessary. We finally all cleared the formalities, and got to the Berber Palace Hotel where we were to be stationed before and after the race. It’s a massive sprawling place but quite nice. Our room was a kind of suite with two adjoining rooms centred around a lounge. Steve and Mark were our room-mates and added to the familiar faces we’d encounter on the trail. Steve had just travelled over from Sydney to the UK and then on to Morocco, and had yet to try to pack his kit as he’d had it all delivered to his family’s place near London – he was slightly stressed later that evening as he wondered out loud how it was all going to fit in!
We headed out to try to find a bar but failed and settled for a mint tea before heading back to the hotel for a massive feed and some beers, although with an early start the next day, and so much excitement it was never going to be a late night.