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James Cracknell’s Top Tips from the MdS Expo

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James Cracknell is one of the most phenomenal British Athletes in the country. He’s a double Olympic rowing gold medalist winning in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004. After retiring from rowing he’s gone on to complete incredible sporting challenges. He’s rowed across the Atlantic with Ben Fogle, competed in the South Pole Race, in 2010 he became the highest placed Brit in the Marathon des Sables (this record has now been broken by Danny Kendall who was placed 5th in 2014). His accomplishments are vast and he’s written numerous books and been filmed for a number of documentaries.

James was an interesting speaker, very funny, but in a strange controversial way. James gave lots of great pieces of advice for the MdS. I’ve made a note in no particular order of what I thought were the most useful and relevant pieces of information for me.

  • Do the training!

  • Run even when you don’t want to run

  • Get your weight down

  • Have a positive attitude

  • Be organized and test all your kit

  • Don’t take a stove, lighter or fuel to reduce the weight of your bag

  • Train on what you’re going to eat during the race

  • Moroccan runners have lots of dates and couscous

  • Beef Jerky is great as it takes a long time to chew

  • Parmesan cheese is high in calories and doesn’t melt

  • Decide what you want to do, have a race strategy and think about your pacing

  • Save yourself for Day 4 - long run!

  • Practice running on sand

  • Do Bikram Yoga to get acclimatized to the heat

  • Have your water bottle holders at the front so you don’t need to stop and take your backpack off at each checkpoint

  • Evening wear – forensic suit – very light

  • Feel confident in your kit – don’t feel the need to take extra

  • Keep hydrated; when you start to feel thirsty it’s too late.

James is at a whole other level to the majority of people who do the MdS, his capacity for enduring pain, and being able to suck it up and get stronger as he goes on, makes him an incredible athlete. He has the mental ability to keep on pushing his body and his mind to the far side of extreme. I watched his documentary, Toughest Race on Earth and I would highly recommend it for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the MdS and seeing how an elite athlete competes during the race.

James has written a number of different books about the different challenges he’s taken on.


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James Cracknell’s website can be found at:

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