Words by Hugh Anderson | Photography by Johnny Fenn/IGO Adventures
My eyes begin to droop as I lie under the canopy of a traditional Moroccan Berber tent. On the horizon, the last of the day’s sun trickles behind a faraway mountain peak, and the sound of the evening call to prayer rides along the slight breeze.
I’m on the banks of Lake Lalla Takerkoust, in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Morocco. The day has been long and tiring, yet unfathomably enjoyable. With the fading light, the fires are lit, and the light dances off the faces of the fellow participants around me. I glance at my teammate Will Hadman and smile. “This is the life,” I say. “This is the life,” he replies.
We’re out here in the depths of Morocco to take part in the inaugural IGO Adventures NW05o Moroccan Challenge. Over four days, the event covers some 150 kilometres on foot, bike, and kayak. From the outset, we know it’s going to be hard. Indeed, I first met Will while partaking in the inaugural IGO Adventures event in Norway in 2015. Then, in sub-zero temperatures, we skied, ran and cycled over 150 kilometres in four days, competing against one another.
“The heat penetrates almost immediately, and the shade offers little solace.”
Yet the sense of competition on an IGO Adventures event wanes almost immediately, and Will and I became good friends. After cycling across southern Norway together earlier this year, we were looking for our next adventure. “Shall we do the IGO in Morocco?” Will suggested. “Yes, I think we should,” I replied. And so we found ourselves in Marrakesh just eight weeks later, standing outside Menara Airport waiting for our transfer into the desert.
The heat penetrates almost immediately, and the shade offers little solace. Before long we were in a Land Cruiser jostling with local traffic as we skirted the fringes of the city. An hour later, we arrived at Terre des Etoiles, a grand desert camp in the Agafay Desert. In this oasis in the sand, it’s hard to imagine that in 48 hours we’ll be half-way through our first marathon distance day. A sense of nervousness builds within.
Standing near the camp’s bar I spot IGO Adventures founder, Bobby Melville. As always, a wide smile stretches across Bobby’s face. It’s like seeing family. And so, the afternoon and following day continue with gorging on carbohydrates, guzzling water and lightly exercising, all in preparation for the first day to begin.