Morocco’s Marathon des Sables

Morocco’s Marathon des Sables

More than 150 miles through one of the harshest deserts on Earth.

Each year in the month of April, the country of Morocco plays host to what is known to many as the world’s toughest footrace.  The Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) begins in the city of Ouarzazate and continues for six days.  During that time, the 1000 or so participants will be pushed to their limits as they struggle to make their way more than 150 miles through the Sahara.

The race has its origins in the adventure of a French concert promoter by the name of Patrick Bauer.  Back in 1984, he decided to get away from it all and go on a 200-mile trek through the Sahara - a place known for being one of the most unforgiving landscapes on the planet.  It was there that he got the idea that such a journey should be a competitive event.  In 1986, the first race took place and has continued until the present day.

This inhospitable desert is filled with the kind of terrain that one wouldn’t normally want to run a marathon on.  There are rocks, sand dunes, salt plains and more, all in an environment of ragingly hot temperatures and randomly appearing sand storms.   Luckily for the racers, they get to take in it 6 stages with a little bit of sleep between each leg.  To make the race even more interesting, it’s changed up every year so that no one knows the exact course it will take.

Those running the race have to carry almost everything they’ll need for their six-day journey.  Not just food, water and sleeping gear, but other things to deal with the harsh environment of the Sahara, like first aid kits and anti-venom kits in case they get bitten by a poisonous snake.  Thankfully, extra water is passed out along the way, or they’d never make it a mile with all that weight to drag along.

Those running the Marathon des Sables don’t do it purely for the glory (though that no doubt factors in heavily).  They also do it for charity.  Each year, hundreds-of-thousands of dollars are raised.  If you’re crazy enough, you too can get in on the blisteringly fun marathon.  It’s definitely an experience that one would never forget and would afford you some serious bragging rights for the rest of your life.