Documentary of my journey at Marathon Des Sables 32



Source: GoodNews Sport

Article published: 21st of June 2017

ERR: Estonian ran 250 kilometers in the desert for charity

Ultra-runner Joel Juht will be sharing his experiences

Attend the Facebook event HERE.

I’m alive!

An excerpt from Joel’s first social media post after reconnecting with civilization:

I’m letting everyone know that I’m alive, regardless of the fact that I went through total hell! I just arrived at Quarzazate hotel and all is well if I don’t take into account some certain things! I plan to talk about my experiences on my blog and give a proper presentation and overview of where I was! I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who supported and thought about me during my journey! #marathondessables32


Amateur athlete and adventurer Joel Juht, who is presently preparing for the Marathon Des Sables ultra-marathon, is not merely training himself before the greatest challenge of his lifetime, but also searching for and preparing equipment. All gear being taken along must weigh little, and only consist of necessary survival supplies, from food and water to a snake venom removal pump and suitable clothing and footwear for a desert trip.

How many backpacks worth do you need to take, and what exactly will be inside?

On the topic of food, there’s breakfast and lunch, which you’ll be eating during the run, but there’s four meals in a day — in the morning, next during the run, then after the run you have red recovery – a recovery meal – them some sort of snack and finally supper. You should get 2000 kilocalories a day at minimum. I’ll be taking more food along just in case, as you can always throw away any leftovers.

The portable foodstuffs is contained in packages, I have around two crates of it. For the mornings I have Kellogg’s and puree, you pour on some water and you have muesli, this is a hard dose of carbohydrates and around 500 kilocalories. After this meal I go for a run, and after the run it’s time for a stronger meal, eating my fill.

Do you have a lot of equipment besides food?

I’ve also got with me a sleeping bag; a head lamp with backup batteries; 20 safety pins, although I haven’t figured out what these are for yet, probably to pin on your number; a compass; a survivor packet; a tiny metal pocket knife; skin care patches and powders, with separate alcohol wipes since you can’t wash there; a venom pump for snake bites; a signaling mirror; a whistle; sun screen, of course; 200 Euros; a passport; a bag and special running outfit. I’ll definitely take some solar batteries, which are not mandatory; a camera for filming; I’ll also be taking my phone despite there being no service, since I can play games or read a book on it to motivate myself, as well as listen to music. Since the temperature gets below 10 degrees at night, I also have a change of clothes, 2 pairs of socks including toe socks and cover socks to keep out sand. The sneakers also have separate covers with velcro attachments to protect against sand, there are compressors to protect the shins, also protective sleeves for the arms, special headgear also worn by Arabs, as well as a tube scarf, which is handy in all situations, such as covering oneself up in a desert storm, or while sleeping at night for warmth. For a change of clothes, one option is lightweight long warm underwear, which looks like a painter’s outfit and is worn underneath clothing. This sums up my equipment.

There’s also constant supplementary letters regarding this equipment. For example, for going to the toilet you have plastic bags, which are sealed and left in a designated spot. Bottles are numbered, you’re not allowed to leave empty bottles anywhere or you’ll be fined. You need to note down all of your things at stopping points, they give you a special card with a spinner.

Can you keep in touch with the rest of the world?

Everyone gets to check their e-mails once a day, but this requires standing in the world’s longest queue which I have no intention of doing. I can be contacted by e-mail through the Marathon Des Sables website. Once a day, they bring everyone a paper with e-mails, and then people also use that paper for all sorts of other things. You’re not allowed to use a cell phone, even if there’s reception in the area. If you use it within these six days, you get fined again. You can use a satellite phone on the spot, where one minute costs two Euros. You get to use e-mail from three to eight every day. There’s no electricity anywhere, you can’t charge anything, you’ll simply have to take your own batteries along with you.

*Authors: GoodNews journalists Jüri Kükk and Elviira Eessaar


Less and less time remains until amateur athlete and adventurer Joel Juht faces his life’s greatest challenge — he’ll be heading to Morocco to take part in the six-day ultra-marathon, Marathon Des Sables. Only men with strong health can take part in this killer run, and they must be examined by an experienced doctor. Joel passed the medical examination successfully and received permission to take part in the run.

You’re undertaking such a challenge that you’re not even allowed to participate without doctor’s permission?

It’s written in the rules of the Marathon Des Sables that all participants must go through a medical examination 30 days before the marathon, and there’s a special form where the family physician must put their approval of the athlete’s medical condition. The reason is simple — since this is one of the hardest ultra-marathons in the world, they presumably want to prevent excessive incidents, since there are many injuries involved. Therefore, it’s important for the athlete to be in strong health. I went through my medical examination right after my trip to Bolivia, they check your ECG, give you protective injections and other necessities. My electrocardiogram readings were excellent, and it’s important to have a properly functioning heart, since you really need it for something like a desert marathon. Sometimes it seems unreasonable that, even if you do lots of exercise, have gathered good partners, you believe you can go, and are already a little stressed from overthinking, and if you can’t go due to health issues by that point, at least I would be thoroughly disappointed in the project as a whole. I even thought before the examination, what if all the readings aren’t alright? You know they are, but what if it shows the opposite? You never know what can happen! But now it’s in the past, now I don’t need to think about it, now I can think of what’s to come.

Speaking of walking, you haven’t hidden the fact that you had inflammations in your feet and you were in pain?

Before I started running, I really did have inflammations in my feet. I’ve run my feet back into health.

Can you find a logical explanation for this?

The logical explanation is that I did all I could to heal my feet. First I switched my running shoes for softer ones, to lessen impact on the feet. Secondly, I went to physiotherapy and massages, thirdly I even had inflammations during my training in Thailand and I went to strong trigger point massage sessions every day there, where I was outright screaming. I’ve never been massaged as painfully as there.

What could you compare this pain to?

It can be compared to having an inflammation and someone forcefully pressing down on that spot and holding it there for 30-45 seconds. It’s extremely painful and even forces you to laugh. 30 seconds of pain is pretty crazy. I also got all sorts of snake venom based gels, applied those, I also got some ointment to spread on myself in the evenings, I’ve been constantly rubbing my feet to get the blood flowing. I don’t have any pains by now, they’re all gone. The doctor gave me a green light for the marathon.

*Authors: GoodNews journalists Jüri Kükk and Elviira Eessaar


Athlete and adventurer Joel Juht, soon headed to the desert marathon Marathon Des Sables, presents a video about his training and relaxation moments on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand.

In these shots you can see the conditions in which he trained on the tropical island, whether by running, Muay Thai, or traversing some extreme areas.

At the same time, Joel’s video blog is also a good travel guide, since it shows off the charms of the tropical island’s nature, its people, and its vacation opportunities.

Attentive viewers will also find his sweetheart in the clips, the dancer, fitness instructor and blogger Kätriin.


1. Preparation — I always wash myself properly before a run, to avoid sweating and various issues from abrasion.

2. Clothing — while getting dressed, I always make sure my socks are on properly, to protect my feet. It’s also important to keep your toenails trimmed, or you risk damaging your feet.

3. Footwear — on a long-distance run, sneakers should preferably be 1.5-2 sizes larger to avoid abrasion of the toes. It’s also important to avoid tying your shoes in the heat, as your feet will swell up and your toes might lose circulation due to being bound too tightly. I also make sure that the sneakers are clean before putting them on.

4. Sun screen — on a long journey, wearing sun screen is important. Preferably 50 spf, since then you can be sure to avoid damage from the sun, and I can personally say I got more of a tan running than my wife did at the beach.

5. Food — food is also important, as we spend and lose a lot of energy while running. We need more fuel, or we’ll stall at the road like cars with empty gas tanks. How much energy we need is based on how many kilocalories we spend. This varies based on our respective distances, as does water consumption.

6. Pulse – we last longer running on a low pulse than on a high pulse. One needs to find a medium pulse for running a long distance in a way that’s optimal both in terms of energy spent and eaten back. From my own experience I can say that running in Estonia on a pulse of 130-140 you spend a lot less energy than in 40-degree heat.

7. Pulse watch — owning a pulse watch is important during a run. It helps avoid problems which may present later in the form of muscle pain.

8. Supplies — when running a long distance in the heat, you need to keep band-aids and a needle on hand, in case you develop blisters, so you can immediately prevent greater foot damage.

9. Positivity — the most important thing is positivity. This is what helps you the most mentally, in completing your distance.

Of course you need to take into account that equipment selection is individual, as people are not the same, so you can’t say that the same things will suit a different runner.