The Marathon des Sables, probably the toughest footrace on earth

The Marathon des Sables, probably the toughest footrace on earth

“You can’t feel the sweat dripping down your face because it’s evaporating in the baking heat. Your lungs feel parched. Today’s temperature is over 50 degrees centigrade” 

Held in Morocco each year, the Marathon des Sables (MdS) bills itself as the “toughest footrace on Earth.” Participants cover 251 km over the course of six days. During this time, they must traverse the Sahara desert, crossing dunes, mountains, sand, and storms., The MdS is a stage race meaning competitors stop each day and rest. The twist, however, is that they must also carry all of their own supplies—save a small ration of water given out each day—including food, clothing, a sleeping bag, and other items.

The first MdS

The marathon was the brainchild of French Patrick Bauer who in 1984 traversed the Sahara desert on foot and alone. He covered the 350 km in 12 days without encountering a single oasis or desert community along the way. Two years later in 1986 the first Marathon des Sables was run. 23 runners participated in the race.

Over 1.000 runners from all over the world

The race is now in its 28th consecutive year and continues to grow in popularity every edition with over 1.000 participants. Places are much sought after, but those who do make it to the start line are richly rewarded. Under the scorching Moroccan sun, life-long friendships are fostered through a shared experience of unforgettable days spent running across saltpans, up desert-mountains, through ruined towns and through the occasional sand storm.

A life time experience

When you complete the final stage of the Marathon des Sables, you will have run the equivalent of five and a half marathons in five or six days, a total distance of some 251 km. No one can deny that finishing the MdS is an incredible accomplishment. But more importantly, you will walk away with a new slant on life – that you can achieve anything you set your mind to do.


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