Turn pain into power

I’m sitting in my old flat in London with Jacq having just done the final last-minute purchases left on the list – safety pins, spare batteries, a kiwi flag and for Jacq a third packet of antibacterial wipes ‘just in case!’ The countdown clock on the MdS website tells me I have one day to go. It’s all about to get very real!

I’m not going to surprise anyone when I say it’s grey outside, freezing cold and windy with my phone telling me it’s a tropical 11 degrees. It’s a huge contrast to my last two weeks in Kenya, as well as the last two and a half months in New Zealand. Thank goodness I haven’t been training here!

Borana, what an amazing distraction. Two absolutely blissful weeks in one of the best spots in the world. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have the opportunity to keep going back and each time it’s just as good, if not better, than the last. Once again the time flew by filled with game drives, horse riding, running, swimming, spotting the ‘big five’ in one morning, this list goes on. Below are some amazing pictures that Richie Johnston took that sum up the last two weeks.


I can’t thank you enough for all your amazing support in the lead up to the MdS. Everyone has so much faith and belief that we can do this, and for continually reminding us that we are crazy! And for those that have contributed to the #runningforrangers campaign and have donated at www.runningforrangers.com, thank you, thank you, thank you. For those that haven’t quite done it yet… our goal is $100,000 by the time we return from Morocco. We are currently sitting just over $65,000, a huge amount but as always, we still need more. If the war against poachers is to be won, we must invest in the men and women – wherever they are based – who risk their lives daily in the name of conservation.

Tomorrow the five of us head to the Holiday Inn at Gatwick Airport for the night before we catch our 7.50am chartered plane to Morocco on Friday with the rest of the 500 or so Brits. From there we head to the desert for two nights before we begin our challenge on Sunday morning. So while you are all enjoying your Easter eggs, I give you permission to have an extra one for us! This will be the only Easter where I will lose weight.

You can write emails to us during our run, which I have no doubt will be extremely well received; words of encouragement, jokes, anything and everything goes! My race number is 0085 (not to be confused with final placing…!) and only messages with my surname, first name and race ID number will be transferred to me. Please do not send attachments (e.g. photos) as this will cancel the message. The messages will be given to us in our bivouac at the end of every day. Go to the website www.marathondessables.com and follow the instructions on the ‘write to competitors’ link. (I’m not 100% sure where this is yet as it doesn’t go live until we start running.) 

Make sure you follow our Facebook page too, Running for Rangers, as Hattie, our awesome media guru, will be posting updates of Pete’s progress who will be wearing a tracker. I can’t guarantee we will be running together though so this will just be an indication of how Pete is going! Remember Mum ‘no news is good news!’

This morning I received a text from my sister Flick “I just saw on BBC that MdS is cancelled because of terror threats. What are you going to do?!?” I must admit she had me hook, line and sinker! Bloody April Fools Day! My initial thought was that I hadn’t take out cancellation insurance!!

So it’s now time to sign out for the next 10 days. I’ll do my final pack tonight where I try to jam as much as I can into my pack, label my food packages with the 2,000+ compulsory kilocalorie (kcal) needed for each day and pray that I haven’t forgotten anything. It’s been six months in the making; running, talking, researching and more running and I have no doubt it will be an experience of a lifetime. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s going to be like, especially the ‘long day’, I’ll just take it as it comes. As a friend said to me before I left New Zealand “turn pain into power.” I am sure this is going to cross my mind more than once!


When I am going through the highs, and more specifically the lows, I’ll think of you all willing me to keep going, one foot in front of the other. No matter what happens out there, I can guarantee that I will do everything in my power to cross that finish line, and more importantly raise awareness for the people who need it the most – the Rangers of Kenya.

Here’s the Marathon des Sables trailer for the 30th year!

“Great things never came from comfort zones” – Unknown


22 Comments on “Turn pain into power

  1. We are all still in awe of you Hollie…wishing you so much love,safety,health and I promise to distract Boo big time when she and Gina and Harry come up next week!!
    Please pass on our very best to the rest of your amazing team.

    Much love
    James and Anna xxxxxx

  2. Hollie Woodhouse! You are an absolute star. I will be digging deep for you every day. You’ve got this chick, enjoy, revel, bask and ride that pain train all the way to the finish line!! Woooooo woooooo!!!! Much love & heat running vibes xxxxxx

  3. Holly, Every best wish as you begin your well prepared race. So proud to know such high achievers. All strength, courage and determination. Love Colin and Hilary

  4. Have HUGE butterflies in my tummy. Anyone would think I am doing this race but honestly feel as though I am. Here beginith a week where Boo will keep herself totally distracted but urging you on in my mind the whole way. All the best Pop and to the others as well. Love you to the desert and back!!!

  5. These photos are incredible Hollie! All the very best, I will be thinking of you!! You’re amazing!

  6. Good luck Hollie and to Sam and the others. You have certainly trained extremely hard for this, and I know you will be successful. Take care and with you in spirit all the way! Lots of love xx

  7. just so proud of you all and have no doubt you will be successful.All my love Dad

  8. You are already a star. Will be in touch with Boo Love and safe travels Di

  9. Go well Hollie. No matter what happens out there hold your head high for even making the start. I look forward to tracking progress and seeing your finish line photo. Emma

  10. All the best,we will be thinking of you ,the best time is when you see the finish line.

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