Desert Adventure

15 Oct 2012

Dubaiite Doris Matlok plans to run 250km across the Sahara

You’d never guess now, but Doris Matlok used to struggle running just 5km. Fast forward nine years and it’s clear things have changed. This lawyer, who now has two ironman competitions under her belt, is about to take on one of the biggest challenges of all - running seven days, self-supported through the Sahara. 

Doris had always done swimming and yoga, but running was never part of her workout. However, she was looking for a lifestyle change, and running seemed just the ticket. It wasn’t long before Doris became addicted to hitting the tarmac. And as she started running further and further, she became interested in working on the mental battle too. She read up on meditation techniques used in endurance running, and was soon running 10km and marathons.

When she moved to Dubai in 2007, Doris was determined to keep up her running. She joined a triathlon group who were involved with iron man competitions. Through a friend she heard about the Racing the Planet series, which comprises four desert runs - Sahara, Gobi, Atacama and Antarctica. Looking for her next challenge, she signed up straight away to the Sahara run in Egypt. And to make sure she completed it, she agreed to run for the Black Dog Institute, which raises funds for research into bipolar.

However, registering in April for the run was the easy part. She now had to train for it, and had six months to achieve her goal. She needed to have enough stamina to run 250km and be able to carry everything she needs for the seven days. Doris would run at least two and a half hours outdoors several times a week, plus she started training twice a week with high performance coach Marcus Smith of Inner Fight.

Marcus’s first task was to help Doris increase her strength levels as she would be carrying 9kg of gear and climbing dunes in the sun. She started doing weight training, and built up to deadlifts that were over her body weight. On top of this he also added cumulative fatigue to her training, which is a no rest/no recovery period to give her the ‘heavy legs’ she’d experience during the challenge.

While the thought of running ultramarathons would terrify some people, Doris has a different outlook altogether. “I love running for the peacefulness, and how I can escape the dramas of life. It’s a great way to explore new places and areas of the world,” she says. Now comes her biggest challenge of all. On 28 October Doris will run 250km across the Sahara for charity. You can follow her adventures on and donate via

Don’t give up on your goals and push yourself all the way through.
Don’t expect immediate results. So long as you prepare properly, the results will eventually come in time.
Be persistent and patient in reaching your goals.
Don’t find excuses to not workout. There’s times when I can’t get out of bed or aren’t in the mood, but I feel so much better after training.
Move while you can! We’re not getting any younger.

“My 9kg kit bag”
Hero Pro 2 (Dhs1,102,

“I will be taking photos of my journey to post on Twitter.”

Compeed Blisters (Dhs24, Boots).
“I’ll also be taking needles to pop blisters that form under the toe nails.”

Black Diamond Moxie Head Torch (Dhs55,
“Day five is 80km so I’ll be running through the night.”

Expedition Food (Dhs39, Adventure HQ).
“I’ve got to take a minimum of 14,000 calories with me - freeze dried food, gel, energy bars....”