Marathon des sables

Portraits

Henry BOTHA (D969-ZAF)

“It will be a success to be at the start”

Henry BOTHA (D969-ZAF), known as Harry, comes to us from South Africa; he will be the oldest participant in this 37th edition of the MARATHON DES SABLES, with 81 years. It will be Harry's first time participating in the MDS, although it is the third time he has registered: "I have already registered twice, but I could not participate due to injuries during my training. The first time, a spinal disc, the doctors told me I had to stop running, especially with a backpack. And then in 2019 a hamstring tear. Then there was Covid-19. There you go, I'm so happy to be registered for the 37th edition, and that my training is going well (except for an operation for an umbilical hernia at the beginning of February). I feel strong, and I consider it will be a success to be at the start and to hear Highway to hell. After that, I will live the race day by day." We often repeat it to you, and Harry symbolizes it perfectly: being in good shape at the start is already a success in itself, the rest is just a bonus!

Running challenges, Harry knows what it is, having run a marathon on each of the 7 continents, including the South and North Poles: "More people have reached the summit of Everest than North Pole. And after visiting the six cities of the Abbott World Marathon series, I looked for something different, and found MDS. It has become a burning desire for me, a goal like no other, I will never be fulfilled in my life as a runner until I have at least tried to run the MDS." If running in the desert will be a first for Harry, he knew how to put all the chances on his side to achieve his goal: he is coached by Rory COLEMAN, 15 MDS on the clock, who accompanies many Finishers.

Talking to Harry gives you a mixture of joy and hope, especially when you discover his sporting journey: a little sport at school, then nothing but walks with his dog until he retired at 65. Harry then moved from Johannesburg to the coastal town of Ballito, and it was there that he joined a running club: "I really enjoyed being part of the club and started taking part in races with my comrades. I ran my first marathon at 67 in Berlin, and that was the starting point of my amazing sporting journey around the world. To date, I have run 19 marathons. There is an expression that says 'age is just a number'. More realistically, I have heard that ‘age is a biological fact.’ By the end of April, I will know what applies to me for real."

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Yohann STUCK (D851–FRA)

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