When Chief Strategy Officer Paul Colman announced that he'd be competing in the Marathon des Sables, billed "the toughest footrace on Earth," we thought he was some combination of completely mad and impressively driven. We were right. We're also happy to report than he came back in one piece, if plenty worn by the experience.
The race, which spans 156 miles over six days in the Sahara Desert, requires that every participant carry all the water, food, and supplies they need for its duration. Racers amped up to the sounds of "Highway to Hell" on each leg and set off under the most dire of conditions. Think: burning sand underfoot and sandstorms blowing debris into your eyes; trekking up jagged terrain; sleeping on nothing but a thin rug in 20 minute bursts; blistered and swollen feet with toenails falling off along the way; the occasional hallucination with only the mind-numbing sounds of "Take That" urging you on; and the brightest moment of the trip being the promise of an ice cold Coke. That only scratches the surface, but you get the point.
Paul managed to run the race, return and tell the tale to us yesterday afternoon. The agency was equal parts engaged and squeamish, especially when photos of racers' feet — bloodied, skin falling off — popped up on screen. He also shared some of his core rules for training and racing, among which was, "Make it Miserable."
Suffice to say it looked and sounded like a hellish, rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Learn more about the Marathon here.