Marathon des Sables (MdS) in Morocco is said to be the toughest footrace on the planet. For six long days, competitors try to cross 254 kilometers of dry, barren desert lands under the excruciating heat of the sun that can sometimes reach up to 50 degrees Celsius. On top of that, competitors must be self-sufficient, able to carry all of their equipment throughout the race, save for tent as shelter for the night. It’s not called the toughest footrace for nothing.
The annual MdS was started by Patrick Bauer in 1986, and now on its 28th year continues to attract racers from all over the world.
What to Expect from the Ultramarathon?
Miles and miles of rolling sand dunes for six days – walking on shifting sand is hard enough, how much more if you were to tread on it for six days? Imagine your legs and feet getting heavier by the minute as you lift them up to make another step upon the sinking ground. Meanwhile, expect dust clouds forming at the base of your feet, or sandstorm hovering in the atmosphere, blocking your view and engulfing the landscape.
New and lasting friendships fostered during the race – despite being competitors, you cannot miss forging friendships with other racers who are equally as eager and as persistent to get to the finish line, victoriously battling the inhospitable Sahara. You start out as competitors but end up as brothers or sisters.
Hundreds of families reached out through the MdS foundation – yes, this isn’t just a race to determine who is the toughest. It is in fact a race meant to help others. Funds raised during the race are used to promote and support local communities such that these recipients may experience better quality of life.
2016 & 2017 Marathon des Sables registration begins – if you are interested, you can register for the 2016 or 2017 MdS. You need to apply nearly two years in advance for each event. Expect to pay about $4,000 in registration fees. Visit http://www.marathondessables.co.uk/ for more information on how to apply and register.
Meanwhile, be on the lookout for the 2015 Marathon des Sables, which will begin in 15 weeks, on April 13.