Blisters, scorching heat, chaffing, dehydration, sand storms – these are just some of the things that over 1,000 runners will face on Sunday 6th April 2014, when the 29th Marathon des Sables kicks off in Morocco’s Sahara Desert.
Most of the runners will have spent several years training for this event, one that sits at the top of many an adventure seeker’s bucket list. At 150 miles long, competitors will run the equivalent of five marathons over the course of a week. And if that’s not tough enough, they need to be self-sufficient, carrying everything they might need, including a week’s worth of food, sleeping bag, spare clothes, etc.
Our Editor, Tobias Mews, knows a thing or two about this, having twice run it himself with two Top 20 finishes to his name.
“There are few races out there that have as much appeal as the Marathon des Sables,” Tobias says. “Indeed, for a race that promises so much pain and claims to be one of the toughest footraces on earth, it’s surprisingly popular. But it’s definitely one of my favorites. I’m feeling a pang of jealously for the runners starting on Sunday.” You can read about Tobias’ first time running it on The Pack.
This year, the Marathon des Sables is included in the Ultra Trail World Tour, which means it will attract a high number of elite athletes looking to compete for the series title.
However, they’ll have to have luck on their side if they’re to beat the two hot favorites to win the overall title – Mohammed Ahansal and Salameh Al Aqra – who’ve been battling it out for almost a decade.
Another person to keep an eye on is Britain, Danny Kendal, who last year went head to head with Tobias, finishing 10th to take the title of the fastest British finisher in history (Tobias came 15th). This year he’s hoping for a Top 5 finish – which, if he achieves it, will be a seriously impressive achievement.
You can track runners progress on the Marathon des Sables website.