Save The Date – Event from 5 to 15 April 2013
THE MARATHON DES SABLES: BEYOND JUST A RACE…
|Since 1986, the MARATHON DES SABLES has offered men and women from all around the world the privilege of an encounter with immoderation. That of landscapes, that of sporting challenge, but above all that of emotion.
An adventure carved out in the South Moroccan Sahara.
There were 23 in 1986, 27 years on there will be nearly a thousand runners coming together in this endurance race: 250 kilometres split into 6 legs marked out across the South Moroccan Sahara in the provinces of Errachidia and Tinghrir and to be completed at their own pace and self-sufficiently. Over the course of a week, competitors will experience one of the finest challenges of their existence, of their whole life sometimes. There are sure to be a few champions in their midst, but most often the runners are ‘ordinary’ men and women in search of the extraordinary. For a lot of people, confronting the desert for six days and being self-sufficient in terms of food intake, is the realisation of a dream that began to take shape several years earlier. And here they are, at the heart of a majestic setting, with the Merzouga dunes, the highest in Morocco, as a backdrop.
The richness and intensity of emotions
It is often an inner journey for all the competitors. Each day, for hours on end, they will run, jog or walk. Whatever the pace, their sole obsession is to make headway. In the heat, the wind, then the night, their bag strapped to their back, they’ll traverse the desert, with the light of their headtorch, the starry desert sky their only witness. With the passing kilometres, with the passing tracks left amid a string of dunes, in a dried out erg, or on the summit of a djebel, they separate off from the superficial to simply be left with the essential. That will be their finest victory. “On the Marathon des Sables, you cut yourself off from the world, you learn to rediscover the simple pleasures,explains Nicolas Esterhazy, a 50-year old Belgian runner. It’s hard to express how you feel in words or images. Added to that is the solidarity between the runners. You run and you come across someone from Columbia, Portugal or China. You don’t know them but you share a moment with them. Such encounters are absolutely priceless.” “This race is kind of reminiscent of the United Nations,adds Kirk McCall, a runner newly arrived from Florida. The runners come from all over the world and share the same emotions, helping each other out. All the barriers are erased. The politicians of our world should take inspiration from the Marathon des Sables.”
An XL organisation
400 people manage the event, including 110 volunteers who come to add their contribution to this ocean of sand. This caravan also employs some 250 Moroccans, 65 of whom are allocated to the 119 runners’ tents as well as over 60 drivers capable of recognising nearly every stone and dune in the desert. An absolute priority at the MARATHON DES SABLES, safety remains a constant concern. Over 50 doctors and nurses treat 300 to 400 people each day, ranging from the unmissable blister to the more delicate operations.
Solidarity Marathon des Sables: The joy in sharing
Having financed the creation of wells and some more specific projects, the MARATHON DES SABLES has now gone the extra distance in its solidarity with Morocco by creating the Association, SOLIDARITY MARATHON DES SABLES. Inaugurated on 11 April 2010, the centre, situated to the North of Ouarzazate, offers those aged 3 to 5 early-learning sports activities and for those aged 6 to 11 early-learning athletics activities. In 2012, the association has also launched the Fémmissima operation, an initiative designed to boost literacy among women. These long-term projects have a budget of between 45,000 and 50,000 Euros. The aim is to perpetuate this action through donations from the runners, of whom there are an increasing number each year who support the Association SOLIDARITY MARATHON DES SABLES. Because joy is infinitely more beautiful when it is shared.