Marathon des Sables

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The Marathon des Sables (MdS, Marathon of the Sands, or Sahara Marathon)[1] is a six-day, 251 km (156 mi)[2] ultramarathon, which is the equivalent of six regular marathons. The longest single stage (2009) is 91 km (57 mi) long.

This multiday race is held every year in southern Morocco, in the Sahara Desert. It is considered the toughest foot race on Earth.[1][3] The first event of the Marathon started in 1986.

Racers winding their way up a large ridge.
A competitor at Marathon des Sables, Morocco
The camp in which competitors sleep at night.

Notable participants[edit]

  • Moroccan brothers Lahcen and Mohamad Ahansal, who won 10 and 6 editions respectively.[4]
  • Marco Olmo, Italian ultratrail specialist, ran all editions since 1996, with best placement 3rd (achieved three times). At the 2013 edition, Olmo was 64 years old, and he was 47 when he ran his first.[5]
  • Dima and Lama Hattab, Jordanian twins who were the first female Middle Eastern participants in the race.
  • James Cracknell, British rower and adventurer, competed in the 2010 race and became the highest placing Briton to ever compete in the race, finishing 12th.
  • In 1994 René Nevola, Dr Mike Stroud OBE, Prof Mike Lean and Richard Cooper became the first British runners to complete the Marathon des Sables. René Nevola was the first Briton to complete the race and finished in 22nd place. This event was notable for its austerity and harsh sand storms (during which the former Olympian from Sicily, Mauro Prosperi, was lost for ~11 days before being found in Algeria following a well-publicized search of the Desert). The British runners completed the first scientific study to assess the energy balance throughout the event. Novel rations and energy drinks were developed with Be-Well nutrition Ltd, stable-isotope analysis to determine free-living energy expenditure was provided by the MRC Human Nutrition Unit (Cambridge) and Karrimor developed the KIMM-Camelbak runner's rucksack based upon a design provided by Dr Mike Stroud OBE. The results of this novel study have been reported in the 2001 textbook entitled 'Marathon medicine' edited by Dr Dan Tunstall Pedoe (page 186: Mean daily energy expenditure for the runners for the 7-day marathon ranged from 22 to
Photo of the first British Runners to complete the Marathon des Sables (Dr Mike Stroud OBE, Rene Nevola, Richard Cooper and Prof Mike Lean).



  1. ^ a b "Facing Africa NOMA : The Marathon des Sables",, 2010, webpage: FA8.
  2. ^ In 2008, the MdS was 145 miles (233 km).[1]
  3. ^ "Extreme Marathons". Time. 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  4. ^ «Marathonien des sables, Lahcen Ahansal, enfant nomade et star du désert»
  5. ^ G. De Pascale, Il corridore - Storia di una vita riscattata dallo sport, Ponte alle Grazie 2012

External links[edit]