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Rory Coleman’s Top Tips from the MdS Expo

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Rory Coleman has done the Marathon des Sables a staggering eleven times and he’s not finished yet, he’s signed up for the race in 2015 and I can’t see him stopping. As well as being famous in the MdS community Rory's a Performance Coach who helps individuals achieve their marathon and ultra marathon dreams. He started running in 1994 and hasn’t looking back since. He’s competed in over eight hundred and seventy marathons, run over two hundred ultra events as well as holding nine Guinness World Records for running on treadmills.

Rory’s an interesting character and he definitely splits opinion. You either like him, respect him, and will listen to everything he has to say, or you’ll think he’s an arrogant know it all, who likes to tell people what to do without explaining why. To put this in context, Rory is the expert on the MdS and he knows what he’s talking about. If you want to get through the race, survive and get to the finish line without too much pain, then listen to Rory.

In my opinion, Rory specialises in getting the unfit, over weight competitors over the finish line. Probably the ones over the age of forty, who have the money, but not necessarily the time to do the research and can only fit in the bare amount of training. If this is you, then Rory’s your man, he’ll get you round in one piece, he’ll make the decisions for you on, what shoes to buy, who to get insurance from, what sleeping bag you need, what food to eat etc. You won’t need to think about anything apart from following his training plan and getting to the airport on time.

He provided a lot of information in a very no nonsense way, this was the equipment you needed; this was who you needed to get insurance from, these were the socks you should buy, the shoes you should get etc. The same advice was being given for everyone, male, female, young, old, experienced runner, fun runner. It may just be me, but I don’t like being told what to do without being able to understand the rationale behind it.

If you’re an elite runner, and want to compete and get in the top two hundred, not just complete the race. I’d say not all of his advice is going to be that relevant to you, so pick and choose carefully what you listen to.

From his Expo talk on how to train for the MdS, I made a note of his top pieces of advice which I felt would be relevant to me.

  • The 30th MdS could be the longest in race history -153 miles

  • This will be the largest ever with 1,300 competitors

  • It’s not all about the kit – it’s about the training

  • Pack – Raidlight Olmo 20

  • Pack weight minimum is 6.5 kg. You want this to be as light as possible

  • On the long day have the goal of getting back before midnight

  • Women need to weigh 56kg at the start of the race

  • Drop the booze and stop drinking now


  • Start to lose weight NOW

Rory did have useful pieces of advice and I’ll listen to what he has to say and give them a try. I’m not an elite athlete and I won’t be competing but I will be completing. From his advice, I think the weight for me is going to be the biggest issue. I’m 5’8 and weight 10 stone which is 63 kg. 56 kg is 8 stone 8 pounds, I’d need to lose another stone and a bit, I’m not sure where I could lose the weight from! I understand the rational of needing to lose weight, but for me to get under 9 stone for my height is going to be one hell of a challenge. That being said, I’m a big believer in you need to do what’s right for you and your body. You know your body best and what works for you, so I’ll be picking and choosing carefully over which pieces of advice to follow!

Rory runs weekend training sessions for the Marathon des Sables, and also has a website where you can buy the kit he recommends and you can follow his blog which he updates on a regular basis.

Rory Coleman Website –

Rory Coleman Blog -

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