As Michael Wardian preps to leave for the six stage, 151 mile race Marathon de Sables in Morocco, we caught up with him at a rare patch of downtime. The race starts on Sunday, April 4, and we’ll do our best to keep you updated with the latest and greatest from Michael’s race.
TNF: This is your third time heading to Marathon De Sables, correct?
MW: This is my third time going. My first time was in 2000, and last year, 2009, was the second time. In 2000 I finished 26th overall and first American, and last year I finished eighth overall, and claimed the best finish overall by American.
TNF: What drew you to Marathon Des Sables in the first place?
MW: It’s one of those epic adventures that is so unbelievably hard to wrap your head around. I mean I have pictures of Lawrence of Arabia going through my mind, and carrying all your gear, including food, and water in one of the harshest environments in the world. Actually, a former roommate of mind saw it in a magazine and said “This looks like something you’d be into.” I was just out of school so I saved up for two years, hoarded my vacation time at work and eventually scrapped up enough money to make it work.
The first time I went to finish and not die. Last year I went to win, and I learned a lot. This year I have fine tuned many aspects to really be in contention again.
TNF: So what are you doing different from last year?
MW: I focused on tweaking my food, the nutrition during the race. You have to carry all of your food the entire time, you’re not able to restock at aid stations, except for water, so I want to make sure I have the best food for the race. I am also really dialing-in water carrying, to be able to slip the provided water bottle into your pack easily and quickly and not have to stop, rearrange and get the water in your pack. Hopefully this is going to make the transitions a lot easier and I won’t lose minutes dealing with packing and repacking. Clothing is also key. In the past I have brought too many clothes, so I’m trying to streamline that.
TNF: What are you bringing in terms of gear and clothes?
MW: I’m wearing the PR short and the Hydrogen Jacket is essential. Also, the Fireroad Socks and the GTD Crew. Another essential is a TNF Buff I picked up at a race in South America.
TNF: How much does your pack weigh?
MW: Right now my pack is huge. I’m competing against these guys who have 15 pound packs. I’m trying to figure out what I really need.
TNF: The Marathon Des Sables is a stage race, meaning at the end of each stage, you stop, sleep and then get going. What’s your favorite stage?
MW: I love doing the long day. Last year the long stage fell on my birthday – that was the coolest.
Michael's living room as he preps for the race: