The Marathon des Sables (MdS) is an epic event which takes place every year in the Saharan desert of Morocco, and is arguably The Toughest Footrace On Earth. In 1984 Patrick Bauer – a French concert promoter - decided to put the world of rock ‘n roll behind him and set out for an epic walkabout. He chose the Algerian Sahara, one of the most brutal environments on earth, and he opted to walk 200 miles of it with all he would need on his back.
It was on this epic trek, under the relentless Saharan sun that his idea of creating the world’s toughest footrace came to him. Two years later in 1986 having obtained the funding he needed, he successfully organised the 1st ‘Marathon of the Sands’ which was run in Southern Morocco.
April 2015 sees the 30th MdS with over 1200 participants racing through some of the most vicious terrain on the planet; running, walking and sometimes even crawling through rocks and sand, over salt plains, stoney Hamada desert and sand dunes of up to 150m high, and experiencing sand storms and temperatures sometimes exceeding 50 degrees Celsius; definitely not for the faint hearted!
The MdS takes place over 6 days and covers 150 – 156 miles (254km) – the equivalent of 5.5 regular Marathons! It is run in 6 stages, the longest stage being around 80 plus kilometres when many of the competitors will run through the night to complete it.
Entrants are self-sufficient, carrying all of their provisions for the full 6 days on their backs; sleeping bag, first aid kit including an anti-venom pump for snake bites, food, cooking stove and clothes. Rationed water is provided throughout the race at check-points along each stage, and again at the camp at the end of each day, with each participant having the same daily allowance which they must manage carefully and efficiently.
At the end of each stage a camp is set up for the competitors, with traditional Moroccan bivouacs sleeping 8 people. Here the competitors will cook their own dinner, visit the medics to have their blisters lanced and dressed, show amazing humour considering the exhaustion and pain they are suffering, and forge solid friendships for life.
The following list will help give you an idea of just how big an event this truly is and how much organisation is involved:
- 120,000 liters of mineral water
- 400 support staff
- 100 volunteers for the course
- 100 4×4 vehicles
- 270 saharan and Berber tents
- 2 “Ecureuil” helicopters and 1 “Cessna” plane
- 23 buses
- 6 MDS specific commercial planes
- 4 camels
- 4 quads bikes
- 3 mountain bikes
- 1 incinerator lorry for burning waste
- 52 strong medical team
- 6,5 kms of Elastoplast , 2,700 compeed blister plasters, 19,000 compresses
- 6,000 painkillers and 150 litres of disinfectant
- 6 satellite telephones, 15 computers, fax and internet
- 1 editing bus, 5 cameras and 1 satellite image station
Besides the obvious self-rewards for competing and finishing this mammoth event, hundreds of thousand’s of £ are also raised each year by the competitors for various charities around the globe, helping to make all of their training, hard work, immense effort and pain all the more worth while.
If you are interested in more information about the MdS or would like to register for a future event please visit http://www.marathondessables.co.uk/
Why not stay on and holiday in Morocco after the event
You will probably feel like a well-deserved holiday having competed in the 2015 MdS; we can help tailor make a holiday to suit you. Please contact one of our specialist travel consultants for suggested itineraries and prices for extending your stay in Morocco after the event.