High school student Jack Davison is running the Marathon Des Sables 251-km six-day run, through the African desert in southern Morocco.
Jack Davison is confident taking on this Marathon Drs Sables Challenge. Just 15 years old he was the youngest runner to complete two ultras in 2018.
The first was the Fuerteventura Des Sables half marathon on the Canary Islands in September. Davison really didn’t know whether he could complete the 120k ordeal on the Spanish archipelago, which is just off the African coast but he did.
“I went in with an open mind,” he said.
“It was an amazing accomplishment.”
It is believed to be a world record for the youngest ultra marathoner. If not, it is certainly a world-class accomplishment.
The terrain was rocky and hilly, “they love to make you run up hills,” and the temperatures were over 100F degrees.
The wind blew constantly. The organizers furnished the runners with tents, pitched on a sandy beach next to the ocean. However the wind never stopped blowing, and he remembers the sounds of the tents flapping the entire night.
When he got to the Ica Desert in Peru last month, he was more prepared for what lay ahead.
“I knew what to expect, but I always get pretty nervous before a run.”
There were no tourist buses where they were going, and military vehicles transported the runners for about 12 hours before they got to the starting line.
Running in a sandy desert presented its own challenges. Consider that professional athletes run on sand to make their training more challenging. The was one sandy hill, almost a kilometer long, that he won’t soon forget.
“It took me an hour to run up that sand dune,” he recalls.
He enjoyed the social side of running, meeting people from around the world out to conquer the same goal.
Davison wasn’t in the money, but he finished in the top one-quarter – about 350 in Spain and 400-plus in Peru. He was satisfied with that.
“I went there each time just trying to complete it.”
Surprisingly, Davison doesn’t train with a lot of distance running. He is a provincial calibre tennis player, and his main fitness regimen is spending about 25 hours each week running around a court.
But he is no stranger to distance runs.
His father Aaron is also an ultra marathoner. Aaron has completed the full Marathon Des Sables three times, and will attempt it this year at the age of 51.
Like his father, Jack finds an incredible sense of achievement in these feats of endurance.
At his age, Jack is not even allowed to run in marathons in Canada, where the minimum age is 18. But he didn’t think it hurt him in any way. After the Canary Islands marathon he rested for about a week.
But last month when he got back from Peru, he found his mom had enrolled him in a tennis tournament, so he only had a few days of rest before he was back in action. He finished second in the tourney.
His tennis coach isn’t crazy about his marathoning, but Davison also plans to complete that epic 251k marathon across the Sahara in Morocco April 5.
“That will be the highlight of my life so far,” he says.
posted Thursday January 10th