Done and dusted

A BFG duo are still smiling after completing the hardest endurance test on the planet, the Marathon des Sables (MdS).
Captains Kim Findlay-Cooper and Josh Conway are back to reality now that they have returned from the Sahara Desert. The experience saw them tackle the 156 miles across sand dunes and rocky mountains in extreme heat.
Both are thrilled to have completed the race and are already talking about taking on another ultra-marathon in the future.
Kim, 1 Armoured Medical Regiment, said: “I had the most fantastic experience, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is considering signing up. It is the opportunity of a lifetime and is so achievable.
“The people you meet along the way are fantastic. The team spirit is incredible and everyone is helping each other along the way. The camaraderie and the atmosphere is just amazing and that helps to motivate you.”
Josh said: “I absolutely loved it. I already have my name down to do another one.”
The MdS took place last month and is a multi-day ultra-marathon. Runners run for six days over a course of between 150 and 156 miles. The event was started in 1986 by Patrick Bauer and has been going strong ever since.
Josh said: “It is hard but there is incredible team spirit. Everyone supported each other, were chatting and trying to settle each others nerves.
“You meet so many people along the way and nobody was too busy to help if you needed it.
“I have stayed in touch with those I shared a tent with and we are actually meeting in London soon.
Kim said it really helped that each runner had their name on their vests. She said: “You would be running along and someone would shout ‘you can do it Kim’ and that was an incredible boost.
“Everyone was helping each other out with water and providing moral support.”
The support started for the competitors as soon as they arrived at the airport. They were taken aback as they stepped out to be greeted with hundreds of people cheering as people arrived.
The competitors were then allocated tent-mates, who would share with them for the whole week.
It goes without saying that doing an ultra-marathon in the heat makes it even more difficult. Kim said: “The heat on one of the days was 53 degrees, with no wind. It was incredibly hard.”
The duo were given boosts along the way, as friends and families could send them emails of support.
Kim said: “The messages were lovely, it was a real treat at the end of a long day.”
Keeping fit and healthy is a tough ask when faced with the hot and sandy conditions. Josh had to deal with a twisted knee on the second day and both had to deal with foot blisters. Kim said: “My feet have only just about recovered!”
One of the things that Josh was looking forward to the most before the race was completing the longest day and looking back he still feels that was the highlight of the week.
Josh said: “Finishing that long day was the best bit, I could start to enjoy myself a bit more after that.”
Both Kim and Josh completed the ultra-marathon around the same time. Josh said: “Kim and I caught up at the final checkpoint, and we ended up finishing the final leg at roughly the same time.”
Kim said: “It was nice to see a familiar face from time to time, and I saw Josh at times throughout the week.”
The duo went to the MdS well prepared with what they needed for the week. Competitors have to carry everything they need for the week the whole time, with only water being topped up along the route.
However they both had room for little extras to keep them going; Kim had her trusted Haribo Cherries and Josh had his music.
Josh said: “I took a little bit of extra weight so that I could take a solo charger. Music gave me a real boost when I was there.”Both Josh and Kim would recommend the MdS to anyone who is thinking about taking part.
Kim said: “Just go for it, you won’t regret it.” Josh said: “It is an incredible experience. If I were to give any advice to someone who was doing the MdS next year, I would say work out a game plan, eat well and sleep well.”
Kim completed the MdS to raise money for Walking with the Wounded. She completed the race in 55 hours and 28 minutes, finishing in 882nd place. So far she has raised £3,107 for the charity.
Josh completed the MdS to raise money for Combat Stress, where over 85 per cent of the money raised for the charity supports veterans.
He completed the gruelling race in 54 hours and 25 minutes, finishing in 856th place. So far he has raised £1,438.73 for the charity.
You can still sponsor Kim at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KimFindlayCooper and Josh at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/r2rgobig

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