Really pleased to have a six page photo article on the 28th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables in Trail Magazin.
The magazine is available for download for just 4 euros from this link: HERE
NO OVERTAKING ALLOWED!
Sometimes the nature of running courses mean that, despite our best efforts, overtaking the competitor in front is simply not possible. It might be too narrow, it might be too boggy, but it’s not often that overtaking is precluded by the mother of all sand dunes!
This striking images taken by our man on the ground (or in the desert) Ian Corless shows competitors in this year’s Marathon des Sables doing battle with the course – rather than each other!
The 28th running of the epic multi-day race in the Moroccan Sahara, this year’s race added a killer wind into the equation – as if it wasn’t hard enough already. We’ll be bringing you the full report in the August issue of Running Fitness.
Water splashed over the large brimmed hat, Gilles poured and poured on Didier’s head to help reduce his temperature. Droplets floated in the air like stars in space and as they made contact they exploded with dramatic effect.
Dried salt on cheeks and lips disappeared but moments later re-appeared as the searing 50+ degree temperatures evaporated the water that continued to pour.
It was very early on in the longest stage of the 28th edition of the Marathon des Sables. It was midday. Gilles and Didier had only dented the distance needed to be covered before the 34-hour cut off would be imposed.
Moving onward, Didier embraced Gilles arm for stability. A very sore and enflamed right knee could give way at any moment. Gilles as ever, faithful to the cause provided the support and self-sacrifice to ensure that Didier’s journey to the line was safe and as trouble free as possible.
Twelve hours after the start, darkness approached and with it some food and rest. With a new lease of life the two continued into 13 km of relentless dunes that reached two to three meters in height. In the distance a green laser shows Gilles the direction he needs to go. Didier follows, two become one and as the sun rises and the heat returns, victory and the opportunity to fight another day seems possible.
From the finish line I see two shadows on the horizon. It is 1600 in the afternoon. The warriors have been on the trail for 32-hours. Tired, weary and emotional they approach the line. I see Didier’s tattoo glisten in the scorching light. An MDS logo on his arm with nine stars around it, a star for every MDS finish. Next to the 9th, a space, would he obtain that 10th star at the 2013 edition of the race?
In the final meters to the line you can hear the shouts from MDS staff, “Bravo Gilles”, a marshal shouts “Allez Didier” and then the clapping and whoop whooping starts. It’s done, they cross the line an incredible 75.7 km’s completed over some of the most demanding conditions possible.
Didier falls into the arms of Gilles in an embrace similar to a small child who has just found a lost mother. Tears stream down his face as he sobs uncontrollably. Gilles, all smiles, pulls away and kisses him on each cheek with a passion seldom seen. It’s a moment I will never forget. It epitomized all that the Marathon des Sables represents. It shows a bond between two people and confirms all that is good and pure in human nature.
You see, this is no ordinary achievement, Gilles is a guide and Didier is blind.
This weeks show honours the injured and fallen at Boston Marathon. We have daily chat from the Marathon des Sables (Tobias Mews, Danny Kendall and Stuart Rae) bivouac and interviews with top placed Brits, Danny Kendall and Jo Meek. We interview Arc’teryx athlete, Adam Campbell. We discuss Mojo in Talk Training with Niandi Carmont, we have ‘A year in the life of…’ a Blog, Speedgoat, the News and ‘Up & Coming Races’.
A former member of the Canadian National Triathlon and Duathlon teams, in 2006 Adam decided to shed the extra gear and rely solely on his running shoes to get around. He also decided to put down the stopwatch and set intervals and hit the trails.
Adam’s love for running began on the beaches of West Africa and Spain, where he spent his childhood running after soccer balls and chasing waves. It wasn’t until he moved to Canada in his late teens that he began running competitively. Adam’s love for all individual athletic challenges quickly saw him jump into the multi-sport world of triathlons and duathlons where he was renown for his running ability, which saw him win a national duathlon title.
However the drudgery and structure of training and racing for triathlons caught up with him and he began to seek out new challenges. After running the roads for a year, he jumped into his first trail race in 2007 and a new love was born. Adam qualified for the Canadian Mountain Running Team in his first trail race and continued to post the best ever finish by a Canadian at a Mountain Running World Championship at the Jungfrau Marathon, a gruelling 42k uphill run with 6000ft elevation gain from start to finish.
His running goals are to seek out interesting challenges in inspiring settings. A lifelong traveler and racer, Adam’s new belief is: if you are going to be suffering, you might as well suffer somewhere beautiful!
Occupation: Trail runner/law student (environmental, aboriginal, employment law)
Favourite Trail: anywhere I haven’t run before
Favourite Place to run: Soft & hilly terrain. Summer alpine runs
Favourite Race: Comfortably Numb, Whistler BC/ Jungfrau Marathon, Interlaken Switzerland
Favourite Distance: I will race anyone, anywhere…
I love what I do! I really do.
To work in a race environment and capture the action in words or audio is a real pleasure. I have played with video and although I enjoy the medium, I do prefer a ‘still’ image. It is a moment captured.
These two images really capture everything that combines to make a great image.
Meghan Hicks on the first stage of the 2013 Marathon des Sables (which she went on to win) running up a dune on the first day. I captured the image by running alongside her.
From behind, my fellow photographer, Mark Gillett captures the process involved. Story making at its best, running at its best and the use of imagery at its best. I have often been asked HOW? I manage to capture images that make the viewer feel like they are in the moment… well here is how.
Pictures tell stories… thanks for the inspiration Meghan and thanks for capturing Mark.
You can read the full article and see images of Danny and Jo on RUN247 HERE
This gallery contains 71 photos.
The final day of the Marathon des Sables is ‘usually’ an easy stage. Your finish is guaranteed! Almost….
Not so for the 2013 edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables.
For the fast runners, one days rest had preceded the final competitive stage of the 28th edition of the race. However, for the slower runners who had taken over 24 hours to complete the 75.7km of the long day, rest was minimal.
The final leg was over the classic marathon distance. It was by no means and an easy day. When you add to this, plenty of sand, dunes and searing heat, it was going to be tough.
Tired limbs, sore and blistered feet moved to the start and after the obligatory briefing they were off, straight into dunes. Golden rollercoasters providing a light and dark palette. It was by far the most impressive start stage start of the entire race
In reality, the front end of the field was not going to see much change. It was guaranteed that barring a disaster; Mohamad Ahansal and Meghan Hicks would be crowned winners off the 28th Sultan Marathon des Sables.
However, Aziz El Akad and Jo Meek had different plans. Both of them ran incredibly hard over the 42km and secured two impressive stage wins. El Akad crossed the line in 03:18:36 and was awarded his medal by Patrick Bauer. In true MDS tradition, Patrick waits on the line and welcomes every runner on the last day. Jo Meek in particular ‘chicked’ many of the men with a time of 04:14:34. On the finish line the emotion and realization of what she had achieved took hold. As the tears rolled down her face she just said, “I can’t take it in. I came here to race but I never thought I would achieve second overall. Today’s distance, the classic marathon, is MY distance so I wanted to run hard”.
2012 winner, Salameh Al Aqra from Jordan finished a great 2013 race with second place in 03:26:34 and Mohamad Ahansal was close behind in 03:29:40. Danny Kendall had an inspired day and finished the race as he started with 6th on the stage with 03:46:19
Meghan Hicks finished second on the stage in 04:26:53 and after a relatively reserved crossing of the line she suddenly jumped, bounced and whoop whooped! Finally she was topping the podium at one of the most iconic races in the world.
Finishing the podium was another Brit, Zoe Salt. It really has been a year when the Brits have made a resounding presence felt and for sure, the ladies race looks very strong for the future.
The final day is all about medals and completing a journey. The finish line is a place of emotion. Every single person has a different emotion. Cheers and screams follow blank faces and hollow eyes. Tears roll down a cheek and arms are raised above heads and you hear a “yes! YES! I did it”.
The emotion, the camaraderie and the bonding of all was personified late in the evening when Didier Benguigui and his guide, Gilles arrived at the finish followed by a convoy of cars with flashing lights. An impromptu alleyway of staff with head torches and the support of many runners cheered, clapped and applauded as Didier crossed the line to complete his 10th Marathon des Sables.
Races are memories. Didier and Gilles summed up everything that one could witness in any race; devotion, sacrifice, suffering and ultimately victory.
As they walked past the line to the applause, cheers and celebrations of all, in bivouac a rock band started to warm up to provide some entertainment for tired and emotional bodies.
It was an incredible 2013 race and one that I feel honored to have witnessed
First Brit: Danny Kendall (GBR), 21h46’03
LINKS TO PHOTOGRAPHY
A portfolio of selected imagery from the 28th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables is now on line in individual galleries for each day.
Please follow the links for each gallery.
Before the race – link HERE
Stage one – Link HERE
Stage Two – Link HERE
Stage Three – Link HERE
Stage Four – Link HERE
Stage Five – Link HERE
Stage Six (non-competitive charity stage) – Link HERE