Marathon des Sables STAGE ONE

Marathon des Sables – Stage One

Distance: 37.2km.

Terrain: Undulating terrain interspersed with small ergs, a Wadi and Dunes representing a total distance of 5km.

Stage One:

It was a relief; you could see it on the runner’s faces…. Today was the day. Two days of camp life was finally coming to an end and a journey that had taken three years for some was about to start.

It had been a wind free night, at 0600 it was still chilly but it was clear that a good day would be ahead.

Campfires spread around the camp like a bunch of pyromaniacs trying to start a forest fire, without the forest! Experienced Masers gathered twigs and shrubbery from around the camp and made improvised fires in holes in the ground. By contrast, novice runners used small triangular metal stoves with fuel blocks.

At 0800 runners started to slowly assemble at the start. The buzz and the excitement was clear for all to see. It was a runners ‘Christmas’. Patrick Bauer climbed on top of his vehicle and started his infamous daily briefing.

“Today is a good day for running with a breeze and temperatures around 25 degs. However, it is a longer than normal first day, so please be careful”

At 37.2km’s this was a tough introduction to the desert.

The countdown complete, runners burst from the start line like ants that had been forced out of a nest. They went left, right and straight at the press that had situated themselves some 150m from the line. It was an incredible outpouring of emotion. The screams, the chants, the excitement, it was intoxicating.

As I moved to the right, runners disappeared up the trail. The race helicopter flying low buzzed them. The race was underway!

As expected, the main contenders in both the men’s and ladies race forged ahead at a blistering speed. You don’t need to spend too long running at the side of them to appreciate the ability they have.

After 5.5km’s a valley, which was preceded and followed by cliff sections. Ruining through a village a Wadi crossing and then a right turn along the trail to CP1.

It’s a beautiful area of 2-3 meter dunes. As the sun beats down it’s exciting to see how the runners not only tackle the dunes but also how efficient they are in the CP’s. Runners looking to place well move and out with speed. In contrast, other runners spend prolonged periods dousing themselves in water. Remember, this water it rationed… at CP1 they are entitled to one 1.5l and at CP2 they are entitled to two bottles.

The dunes make them sink and for every step forward you move a little backwards. It’s a cruel terrain to run on.

Mohammed Ahansal was showing his class by pacing himself in the early stages and the front-runners had arrived in a group of 5 or 6. By contrast, Laurence Klein was showing her dominance and experience by forging ahead of the ladies field. When I saw her, she was running just behind the legendary, Marco Olmo.

After the Dunes the terrain became increasingly difficult area and a rocky section around 17km preceded another cliff. The race was now opening up and Mohammed Ahansal was opening up a lead over Antonio Solaris from Italy and Miguel Solar from Spain.

CP2 came and with it a few surprises in the ladies race, Laurence Klein was once again pushing ahead of the field but Brit, Jo Meek was in second followed by 2009 second-place runner, Meghan Hicks from the US.

Negotiating a rocky gorge and another cliff section the track now became wider and after more rocks and a col the finish came in sight.

Mohammed Ahansal ran to the line looking relaxed in first place with a time of 02:50:56. Antonio Solaris, 41, from Italy (who has placed 7th overall previously and now lives in Morocco) finished in 2nd place in 02:55:25. Third place was Miguel Soler, 35, from Spain in 03:00:33.

The ladies race saw the dominant Laurence Klein, 44, raise a hand in the air just before the line and say ‘Merci’ to those waiting at the finish line. Her time of 03:39:21. The big surprise was MDS fist timer, Jo Meek, 35, from the UK. She has a marathon personal best of 2:46 set in Berlin in 2009. Before the 2013 MDS began she said:

“I want to do the Marathon des Sables for the challenge but also to do the best I can. I want to race, I don’t want to just take part”

Well, Jo has fulfilled that promise. Lets just hope she can maintain that start over the following days. Megan Hicks, 34, from the US who has raced three times previously at Marathon des Sables (2nd in 2009 and 5th in 2012) took a solid third place in 03:52:51.

Notable British performances in the first stage came from:

Men’s:

Danny Kendall (7th) 03:07:47, Andrew Fargus (15th) 03:26:55, Alexander Visram (19th) 03:34:11 and Tobias Mews (23rd) 03:38:10.

Ladies:

Zoe Salt (4th) 04:01:58, Amelia Watts (7th) 04:18:09 and Alison Young (11th) 04:43:30

Stage 2 is a shorter stage of 30.7km and will see the runners tackle 3 djebels with 10-25% gradients and stunning panoramic views. News around the camp is that it is going to be a tough day out….

Marathon des Stables – Stage One

Distance:

37.2km.

Terrain: Undulating terrain interspersed with small ergs, a Wadi and Dunes representing a total distance of 5km.

Stage One:

It was a relief; you could see it on the runner’s faces…. Today was the day. Two days of camp life was finally coming to an end and a journey that had taken three years for some was about to start.

It had been a wind free night, at 0600 it was still chilly but it was clear that a good day would be ahead.

Campfires spread around the camp like a bunch of pyromaniacs trying to start a forest fire, without the forest! Experienced Masers gathered twigs and shrubbery from around the camp and made improvised fires in holes in the ground. By contrast, novice runners used small triangular metal stoves with fuel blocks.

At 0800 runners started to slowly assemble at the start. The buzz and the excitement was clear for all to see. It was a runners ‘Christmas’. Patrick Bauer climbed on top of his vehicle and started his infamous daily briefing.

“Today is a good day for running with a breeze and temperatures around 25 degs. However, it is a longer than normal first day, so please be careful”

At 37.2km’s this was a tough introduction to the desert.

The countdown complete, runners burst from the start line like ants that had been forced out of a nest. They went left, right and straight at the press that had situated themselves some 150m from the line. It was an incredible outpouring of emotion. The screams, the chants, the excitement, it was intoxicating.

As I moved to the right, runners disappeared up the trail. The race helicopter flying low buzzed them. The race was underway!

As expected, the main contenders in both the men’s and ladies race forged ahead at a blistering speed. You don’t need to spend too long running at the side of them to appreciate the ability they have.

After 5.5km’s a valley, which was preceded and followed by cliff sections. Ruining through a village a Wadi crossing and then a right turn along the trail to CP1.

It’s a beautiful area of 2-3 meter dunes. As the sun beats down it’s exciting to see how the runners not only tackle the dunes but also how efficient they are in the CP’s. Runners looking to place well move and out with speed. In contrast, other runners spend prolonged periods dousing themselves in water. Remember, this water it rationed… at CP1 they are entitled to one 1.5l and at CP2 they are entitled to two bottles.

The dunes make them sink and for every step forward you move a little backwards. It’s a cruel terrain to run on.

Mohammed Ahansal was showing his class by pacing himself in the early stages and the front-runners had arrived in a group of 5 or 6. By contrast, Laurence Klein was showing her dominance and experience by forging ahead of the ladies field. When I saw her, she was running just behind the legendary, Marco Olmo.

After the Dunes the terrain became increasingly difficult area and a rocky section around 17km preceded another cliff. The race was now opening up and Mohammed Ahansal was opening up a lead over Antonio Solaris from Italy and Miguel Solar from Spain.

CP2 came and with it a few surprises in the ladies race, Laurence Klein was once again pushing ahead of the field but Brit, Jo Meek was in second followed by 2009 second-place runner, Meghan Hicks from the US.

Negotiating a rocky gorge and another cliff section the track now became wider and after more rocks and a col the finish came in sight.

Mohammed Ahansal ran to the line looking relaxed in first place with a time of 02:50:56. Antonio Solaris, 41, from Italy (who has placed 7th overall previously and now lives in Morocco) finished in 2nd place in 02:55:25. Third place was Miguel Soler, 35, from Spain in 03:00:33.

The ladies race saw the dominant Laurence Klein, 44, raise a hand in the air just before the line and say ‘Merci’ to those waiting at the finish line. Her time of 03:39:21. The big surprise was MDS fist timer, Jo Meek, 35, from the UK. She has a marathon personal best of 2:46 set in Berlin in 2009. Before the 2013 MDS began she said:

“I want to do the Marathon des Sables for the challenge but also to do the best I can. I want to race, I don’t want to just take part”

Well, Jo has fulfilled that promise. Lets just hope she can maintain that start over the following days. Megan Hicks, 34, from the US who has raced three times previously at Marathon des Sables (2nd in 2009 and 5th in 2012) took a solid third place in 03:52:51.

Notable British performances in the first stage came from:

Men’s:

Danny Kendall (7th) 03:07:47, Andrew Fargus (15th) 03:26:55, Alexander Visram (19th) 03:34:11 and Tobias Mews (23rd) 03:38:10.

Ladies:

Zoe Salt (4th) 04:01:58, Amelia Watts (7th) 04:18:09 and Alison Young (11th) 04:43:30

Stage 2 is a shorter stage of 30.7km and will see the runners tackle 3 djebels with 10-25% gradients and stunning panoramic views. News around the camp is that it is going to be a tough day out….

Marathon des Stables – Stage One

Distance:

37.2km.

Terrain: Undulating terrain interspersed with small ergs, a Wadi and Dunes representing a total distance of 5km.

Stage One:

It was a relief; you could see it on the runner’s faces…. Today was the day. Two days of camp life was finally coming to an end and a journey that had taken three years for some was about to start.

It had been a wind free night, at 0600 it was still chilly but it was clear that a good day would be ahead.

Campfires spread around the camp like a bunch of pyromaniacs trying to start a forest fire, without the forest! Experienced Masers gathered twigs and shrubbery from around the camp and made improvised fires in holes in the ground. By contrast, novice runners used small triangular metal stoves with fuel blocks.

At 0800 runners started to slowly assemble at the start. The buzz and the excitement was clear for all to see. It was a runners ‘Christmas’. Patrick Bauer climbed on top of his vehicle and started his infamous daily briefing.

“Today is a good day for running with a breeze and temperatures around 25 degs. However, it is a longer than normal first day, so please be careful”

At 37.2km’s this was a tough introduction to the desert.

The countdown complete, runners burst from the start line like ants that had been forced out of a nest. They went left, right and straight at the press that had situated themselves some 150m from the line. It was an incredible outpouring of emotion. The screams, the chants, the excitement, it was intoxicating.

As I moved to the right, runners disappeared up the trail. The race helicopter flying low buzzed them. The race was underway!

As expected, the main contenders in both the men’s and ladies race forged ahead at a blistering speed. You don’t need to spend too long running at the side of them to appreciate the ability they have.

After 5.5km’s a valley, which was preceded and followed by cliff sections. Ruining through a village a Wadi crossing and then a right turn along the trail to CP1.

It’s a beautiful area of 2-3 meter dunes. As the sun beats down it’s exciting to see how the runners not only tackle the dunes but also how efficient they are in the CP’s. Runners looking to place well move and out with speed. In contrast, other runners spend prolonged periods dousing themselves in water. Remember, this water it rationed… at CP1 they are entitled to one 1.5l and at CP2 they are entitled to two bottles.

The dunes make them sink and for every step forward you move a little backwards. It’s a cruel terrain to run on.

Mohammed Ahansal was showing his class by pacing himself in the early stages and the front-runners had arrived in a group of 5 or 6. By contrast, Laurence Klein was showing her dominance and experience by forging ahead of the ladies field. When I saw her, she was running just behind the legendary, Marco Olmo.

After the Dunes the terrain became increasingly difficult area and a rocky section around 17km preceded another cliff. The race was now opening up and Mohammed Ahansal was opening up a lead over Antonio Solaris from Italy and Miguel Solar from Spain.

CP2 came and with it a few surprises in the ladies race, Laurence Klein was once again pushing ahead of the field but Brit, Jo Meek was in second followed by 2009 second-place runner, Meghan Hicks from the US.

Negotiating a rocky gorge and another cliff section the track now became wider and after more rocks and a col the finish came in sight.

Mohammed Ahansal ran to the line looking relaxed in first place with a time of 02:50:56. Antonio Solaris, 41, from Italy (who has placed 7th overall previously and now lives in Morocco) finished in 2nd place in 02:55:25. Third place was Miguel Soler, 35, from Spain in 03:00:33.

The ladies race saw the dominant Laurence Klein, 44, raise a hand in the air just before the line and say ‘Merci’ to those waiting at the finish line. Her time of 03:39:21. The big surprise was MDS fist timer, Jo Meek, 35, from the UK. She has a marathon personal best of 2:46 set in Berlin in 2009. Before the 2013 MDS began she said:

“I want to do the Marathon des Sables for the challenge but also to do the best I can. I want to race, I don’t want to just take part”

Well, Jo has fulfilled that promise. Lets just hope she can maintain that start over the following days. Megan Hicks, 34, from the US who has raced three times previously at Marathon des Sables (2nd in 2009 and 5th in 2012) took a solid third place in 03:52:51.

Notable British performances in the first stage came from:

Men’s:

Danny Kendall (7th) 03:07:47, Andrew Fargus (15th) 03:26:55, Alexander Visram (19th) 03:34:11 and Tobias Mews (23rd) 03:38:10.

Ladies:

Zoe Salt (4th) 04:01:58, Amelia Watts (7th) 04:18:09 and Alison Young (11th) 04:43:30

Stage 2 is a shorter stage of 30.7km and will see the runners tackle 3 djebels with 10-25% gradients and stunning panoramic views. News around the camp is that it is going to be a tough day out…

Please check Facebook for images. I am not able to post from the desert