Andrew Terlich.
Andrew Terlich.

Terlich prepares for desert quest

LONG-distance runner Andrew Terlich expects the legendary Marathon of the Sands to push him to the brink, physically and mentally.

But the 38-year from Doonan believes it will all be worth it if he can get to the finish line of the gruelling 250km race through the Sahara Desert.

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Terlich (pictured) will be confronted with unforgiving landscape and searing heat in the heart of Morocco, where he will attempt to run 30-80km a day for six days while carrying a 12kg backpack of supplies.

"It gets up to 45 to 50 degrees during the day and there is a real mixture of terrain," he said.

"There is soft sand, and one day is called 'dune day' because it is all sand dunes, but the typical terrain is semi-hard sand and pebbles. There will be two big things that cause problems - heat and blisters.

"Running for seven days over that distance with the sand that gets in your shoes, blisters are common. I've seen some pictures of people's feet which have been torn apart, so that's one of the biggest things.

"I'm just taking one pair of shoes but I'm wearing two pairs of socks to relieve the rubbing on my feet and a pair of gators which will prevent the sand from getting in."

The event is generally considered to be the toughest footrace on Earth.

"I'll struggle physically with the conditions, but after three four or five days it will become more of a mental challenge," Terlich said.

"You're so sore and tired and you have to pick yourself up and go running again which could be difficult.

"But the guys who have done it, and I've spoken to, say they are elated when they finish. Having gone through all the work to get there and through a challenge which may be beyond the limit of what you thought you could do."

Long-distance running is not new to Terlich.

He has completed 100km ultra-marathons in Hong Kong, where he lived before moving to the Sunshine Coast four months ago, and he won a marathon along the Great Wall of China in 2010.

He has recently recovered from a niggling knee injury and is running up to 30km a day and up to 120km a week at the moment.

Terlich said he simply enjoyed running and found it to be "quite meditative".

"You can get into a rhythm. You get your mind at another level and I know it sounds a bit silly but it's like meditation," he said.

"I love running on trails to take in the surrounds.

"It's not like running on a road and just putting one foot in front of another."

Terlich will leave for Paris on April 4, before catching a charter flight to a town in Morocco.

He will then travel by bus for six hours to an unknown location in the desert for a two-day camp and the start of the race on April 7.

He is among 900 runners to nominate for this year's edition of the Marathon des Sables.

As part of his efforts in participating in the event, Terlich is raising money for the children's charity, Barnardos.

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