Day -2, Thursday 22 March 2007

Well, it’s finally here. There shouldn’t really be much to say about the journey out to Morocco, but I managed to spice things up a bit. .....

Catching the 6:30am flight from Manchester down to Gatwick, I would arrive in plenty of time to make the lunchtime flight to Ouzarzate.
I took all my food in hand luggage, taking no chances for loss, and wore my running gear, shoes and all, to be completely safe. There is only really one item you need to remember at all costs, passport aside; your medical certificate and ECG. Had I met someone who I forgotten such a thing, he would surely by an imbecile? I mean, what kind of cock would actually leave their ECG at home?
I was standing by the arrivals luggage carousal in Gatwick at around 8am when I realised my medical certificate and ECG were sat at home. That was 4 ½ hours before the flight to Morocco, no time to get back. No time to get it couriered down to Gatwick, or out to Morocco. Amex help desk couldn’t sort this one out.
I could have missed my flight and picked up a scheduled service via Casablanca for £800, plus £200 to get the thing couriered down, and ultimately arrive in the early hours (which one competitor had to do as he missed the flight), but not exactly cost effective.
Did it really matter? Well, you can’t run without one. The rules also stipulate it has to be a colour original; photo copies would not suffice. Hence, the panic. Unfortunately, the UK representatives from Best of Morocco have no power as such within the race organisation and they could only quote the rules. Best case scenario would be a loss of deposit and a fresh medical and ECG undertaken at registration. Well so what? My concern would be standing in a queue, blood pressure up on the day, and next thing, “Non, ne vas pas”. You’re out, that simple, two years of planning down the drain. I took the original flight and my wife faxed the documents out, which were ready at the hotel when I arrived. Hopefully this would help my case at registration on Saturday.
It was easy to spot other competitors, big rucksacks, generally
Raidlight, and a strange mix of sporty/unseasonal outfits. I met up with people I had seen at previous races during the year, including Keith Evans, who had run a course on the MDS the previous autumn, and many others for the first time. By the time we had landed, suddenly we had a tent of five, (Keith, myself, Jason, Alex and Richard).
After landing, previous competitors had suggested taking taxis to the hotel to avoid the queues, a good plan although we took the first coach. The key to checking in is having your own pen; a pen means you can fill out the forms; you’re next in line in an instant!
The hotel for the British competitors is the Berber Palace, the best hotel in town. The food was excellent, although before the race, we were all a little hesitant to get stuck into the wide variety of local dishes and salads on offer.
A night in the bar, a few beers, but I was still nervous and feeling somewhat ridiculous about the ECG and medical certificate. At least I had a fax copy to prove I was fit to go should my vitals suddenly go awry!