South African running sensation Ryan Sandes has become the first person to win all four marathons in the 4Desert Series.
Sandes, who has already triumphed in the Gobi March, the Sahara Race and the Atacama Crossing, took the lead in the race early on and never relinquished it.
iafrica.com spoke to Sandes earlier this year about everything from snakes, scorpions that will either kill you or turn you into a sexual dynamo, and running in the jungle without water. Check out the interview and video below!
Three years ago, he was an average guy heading up to the Knysna Oyster Festival for a party and a half-marathon, but a series of unexpected events thrust Ryan Sandes into a marathon, and ultimately unearthed one of the world's top endurance athletes.
After finishing the Knysna Marathon in the top 20 at a respectable time of 3:20, something hooked Ryan onto running marathons and he has not looked back. Since then he has won the Gobi March, the Sahara Race (both part of the four desert series) and the Jungle Marathon (in the Amazon Jungle), all on his first attempt, and is busy preparing for the Atacama Crossing in March.
His exploits are now well known - locally and internationally. Sandes has been the focus of countless magazine, newspaper and television interviews and is the subject of forthcoming documentary 'Wandering Fever', which is currently in production (release date 2011).
You can watch the teaser for the documentary right HERE
iafrica.com's Head of Sport, Rob Peters, caught up with Ryan at one of his favourite training spots in Hout Bay to discuss how he got started and what his plans are for the future.
Q&A with Ryan Sandes:
Rob Peters (RP): So how exactly did you get started?
Ryan Sandes (RS): I started running around three years ago. It was more to get up to the Knysna Oyster Festival, and have a party with some mates than for the running. The only way to get there was to do the half-marathon, but it was full - so I entered the full.
I managed to finish and something hooked me, the satisfaction of finishing the race, and the accomplishment of it.
So how did you do?
RS: I ran it in around 3:20 and finished in the top 20, which is not bad for your first marathon, particularly with the amount of training I had done for it.
RP: So how on earth did you go from the Knysna Marathon to running across the Gobi Desert?
RS: After Knysna I joined the Hout Bay Harriers and a month later did my first trail run. One thing led to another and I began searching for a new challenge. I was messing around on the internet and stumbled across the 4 Deserts website, and the rest is history.
RP: You have run in the Amazon and more than a couple of deserts now - which is harder?
RS: Namibia (the Namib Desert run) was the hardest, but that's probably because I came in second. The conditions in the Amazon are harder, but I was winning and that makes life a lot easier at the time! But, ja, the deserts have easier conditions.
RP: What makes the deserts 'easier'?
RS: The conditions in the jungle are a lot tougher. One minute you are running through ankle deep water and the next you are up to your neck in the swamp. You're always running up and down hills, tripping over roots and the humidity - it's brutal.
Five guys had to be evacuated during the race and another two ended up in a coma. Even trying to breathe becomes a mission after a while.
RP: It's not just running is it?
RS: No, not at all! Look, it was an awesome experience, but I won't be rushing back anytime soon!
RP: What do you do after a race like that? Surely a jog is out of the question?
RS: I still enjoy a jog, but for around two weeks after the race I put my running shoes away. I do some mountain biking, go for a swim and spend time with mates. It's important to try and relax for a bit because mentally you need a break. After Brazil I was more mentally drained than physically, so I needed to just chill out for a bit.
RP: Winning all these races must have put you on the map in the running world?
RS: The 4 Desert Series does get a lot of international coverage and even the Jungle Marathon gets a lot of press in Brazil, the States and the UK. It does help in terms of securing sponsorship, particularly internationally.
RP: Finally, do you have any plans on heading abroad to train internationally or are you staying local?
RS: I am very happy local. I love South Africa and the Sports Science Institute has really helped me a lot with my training. I would like to do a few 100 milers in Europe, race at altitude, and maybe go to France for a few months. I would also like to run a few races in the States, but I have no desire to leave South Africa on a long-term basis.