Marathon of the Sands (Marathon des Sables)

This grueling six day event (over seven days with one rest day), held each year in Morocco. The race is the equivalent of nearly six marathons combined, possibly making it the toughest footrace on earth.

The Event

The race covers 243 km (150 miles) in the southern Moroccan desert, with the longest single stage 84 km (52 miles) long. The terrain ranges from uneven rocky ground to huge sand dunes in 50 degree Celsius (122 degree F) heat. At night the temperatures can plunge to freezing. All the competitors must also carry their own food and equipment (clothing, sleeping bag, cooking and medical kit). Only water and tents are supplied along the way.

History

The first event was held in 1986. During the 1994 race, Italian police officer Mauro Prosperi lost his way during a sand storm and wandered lost for more than 9 days, losing over 18 kg (40 lb) of body weight. He ended up in another country. The undeniable champion of this event is Lahcen Ahansal from Morocco, who has won 9 titles (as of 2006).

Do you want to enter?

If you are silly enough to want to enter this event, there is an entry fee of almost $3000 for the privilege to compete. This goes towards the large costs of putting on the event and providing the support needed. Once you have the entry fee, and the will to enter, the training and other preparation must start.

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