2017 Marathon des Sables – World Gears up for 32nd Edition of Toughest Marathon
The Marathon des Sables happens to be one of the most gruelling marathons in the world. It is a marathon run over six days in the Sahara desert. The total distance of the event would be 251 km or 156 miles. Thus, it is close to the distance covered by a runner over six marathons. This is an annual event, which is held in southern Morocco. Started in 1986, this event is often referred to as the toughest foot race in the world. The event has grown from a 23-runner race in its first year to witnessing over 1000 runners by 2009.
Moroccan nationalities have dominated the race in the history, although the first Moroccan, Mohamed Bensalah, did not manage to succeed in the event until 1992. Bernard Gaudin is the winner of the first competitive event in 1986. The Frenchman dominated the event until 1991 along with his countryman Hassan Sebtaoui. Since 1997, a Moroccan has been unable to win the crown only once. Rashid El Morabity managed to win the 2016 event, which was also his third consecutive success at the Marathon des Sables.
The 2017 Marathon des Sables
The 2017 event will be featuring 1200 runners. The British will be providing the strongest representation at this tournament closely followed by France. The 32nd edition of the tournament will take place over five timed stages and a single stage meant for charity. Runners will be covering anywhere between 30 km to 90 km each day. Water and bivouac other only provisions for runners, with the latter required to be shared between seven runners. Every other essential aspect for the runner should be carried over the course of the race.
Day 4 is expected to be the most gruelling amongst the five days of timed events. The hot days and cold nights are extremely tough to deal with, and it is not a surprise that Marathon des Sables is considered as one of the toughest marathons.
Prince Harry at Marathon des Sables
Prince Harry stunned double amputee with surprise visit during training for gruelling Marathon des Sables. Duncan Slater declared that after the build up and briefing about Prince Harry's future arrival, he was not prepared for the casually dressed and relaxed figure, which appeared outside the heat chamber.
Prince Harry arrived in Sahara two days ago to wish his friend good luck in another attempt to complete the famous Marathon des Sables. Last year, Duncan came really close to finishing the race. The 156-mile race across the Sahara desert is extremely difficult and all participants have to carry all of their equipment and food, taking on rugged hills and sand dunes. If successful, Duncan can become the first double-leg amputee to ever complete this race, raising funds for a charity called Walking with the Wounded.
International Women's Team at the Event
Morocco has been hosting the race for 28 years, but Marathon des Sables still fails to attract female runners. April 9 will see, for the first time in the competition's history, an international women's team on the start line of this gruelling race. X-Bionic Women's Team wants to inspire more women from the Arab world, especially from Moroccan, to take up exercising and running.
Marathon des Sables is among the most famous ultra-running events in the world. While other competitions are only famous among runners and lovers of this lonely sports, Marathon des Sables has become an iconic name where runners from tens of countries gather to take up the 6-day race.