The Hardest Day. But… “nothing can stop a good Englishman with a cup of Earl Grey & a bag of skittles in him!”

The Whalley Wine Shop is an independent wine merchant, that’s our business, that’s our livelihood and we love it. For us, it’s all about our customers who make the shop what it is. And with this glorious sunshine we’ve enjoyed having loads of customers in the shop buying and drinking wine. You are the number one focus of our attention.

But, maybe this week, you can excuse us going on a bit about other stuff, and focussing on the owner of the shop, Tom Jones’s  mammoth personal effort in attempting the Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert, running 156 miles, the equivalent of 6 marathons, in just 6 days.

A screengrab from the live webcam feed of Tom completing Stage 3.
A screengrab from the live webcam feed of Tom completing Stage 3.

At 1.50am this morning Tom completed Stage 4 of this unforgiving race, probably the hardest day of racing in the world.  91.7 km non stop, over two days,  day and night, in one of the harshest terrains known to man.

Tom can send out one e-mail a day, and this is what he had to say after just completing Stage 4……. Pumped or what!

Hi, smashed it! Got back in this morning at 1.50am, well before what I was hoping for. Now some details. Started yesterday thinking I was going to walk  with Adam, we  set out but after a km or so we were near the back & I just couldn’t do it, so I took off on my own & power marched & jogged the first 40km or so until I made up quite a lot of position, smashed on through to 50km & knew I had it then, felt good in my head, & legs felt strong.Thought I would do some more running in the evening but 60km on to the finish was just sand, sand & more sand! Kept a strong march with my poles & knew I was going strong, don’t know where I finished yet but it felt pretty good. I pushed myself and got through fine, a few blisters but smashed it mentally. A lot struggled but I feel like I nailed it. All my love. Tom.

After a well earned sleep, Tom sent another message…

Came in 377th for yesterday! Puts me 484th in total but unfortunately the bloody French organisers have fined me 30 mins for being late to collect my water one morning! Not sure if my position includes that. Really pleased, there is NO WAY I am one of the best 500 runners here! Really want to try & keep top 500 if I can run well tomorrow. OK, so some stuff from yesterday. Morning routine changed slightly – no lie in, eggs & newspaper! Instead got up 5.50am. poo’ed in a plastic bag, checked trainers for scorpions, ate rehydrated porridge and drank cold tea! Then smashed 91.2km in the Sahara in less than 18 hours! 57 miles in heat & sand with a bag on my back! My abiding memory of the desert is going to be ‘wind’ though. It started first thing, and when the Sahara is doing its best to blow your tent & all your belongings away you feel a bit stupid trying to light a stove with a little clipper! Wind kept up all day & into the night, just constant & brutal. Takes more than that to beat me though. Tom.

Next message read….

Hi, hope you get all these in the right order! This is no 3. So the wind is bad but made last night even harder. From 60km to finish was tough. I can run in the wind. I can run in the dark. I can even run in sand. But all 3 together is just a bit much! Had to force march big chunks of soft sand & just wait for little bits of rock & stone to run. Kept enough in the tank to run the last 1.5km though so came through the finish running & with a smile. Did you see my Tom 1 Desert 0 pose on the web cam?! Haven’t had any emails from yesterday or today but can’t wait to get them, loving hearing from you all. Dan’s messgae was great, tell him this ginger German guy overtook me about 78km in… the guy was lucky I didn’t take him behind a sand dune & batter him with my walking pole! Had to make do with smashing past him though! Nothing can stop a good Englishman with a cup of Earl Grey & a bag of skittles in him!

Every one of us here at the shop, is really proud of Tom, and all the others who have competed in the race, who have helped raise money for charity, and gained personal strength from attempting ‘the toughest race on Earth’.

In terms of communication, Tom can send out one e-mail a day, but he can receive many. If you want to send Tom a message while he is out in the dessert, go to the main website for the race, (it’s amazing and has live tracking and live webcam etc) on this link.. and there you will find a button saying ‘write to a competitor’ . Tom’s number is 0341 – JONES Thomas.

Should you want to support Tom and his charities please check out his just giving page at or text 70070 and put TMDS85 and the amount of your donation. Thank you.

Images of day 4…

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