The 2022 and 36th Marathon des Sables concluded today on the edge of the Merzouga dunes after the classic ‘marathon’ stage.
It was a hotly anticipated stage with the top-3 men being so close, however, it soon became apparent that Aziz was not going to try a heroic effort to gain back his 4-minute plus deficit for 2nd place or victory. In all honesty, who can blame him, the El Morabity brothers of Rachid and Mohamed would never have allowed it.
It was in the last 5km that Rachid started to open a gap with bivouac off in the distance. Aziz chased and Mohamed policed it but the writing was on the wall.
Rachid ran in the final straight with a Moroccan flag waving, Aziz finished 2nd on the stage and importantly Mohamed finished 3rd losing more than the 37-second advantage he had going in to the stage and therefore crowning Rachid champion with his 9th victory.
We could argue all day asking the question, ‘Could Mohamed have won?’
The simple answer is, this race was built around an El Morabity plan and that plan came together to perfection granting Rachid that all important 9th crown. You need to look at the men’s race from a cycling perspective and quite simply, Mohamed worked as a domestique to facilitate a beautiful 1st and 2nd. Rachid will now be thinking of an all important 10th victory in 2023.
The women’s race went to format with Anna Comet Pascua winning the stage and confirming overall victory by a substantial margin.
Sylvaine and Aziza rounded the overall general classification placing 2nd and 3rd.
Tomorrow, the runner’s must do a 7.9km charity stage to complete the 2022 MDS but the timing does not rank.
In the coming days I will write more with a full summary but is important to say, this edition has been seamless with stunning and impeccable organisation. The weather has brought challenges with two days of storms, wind and even some rain. The heat has been mild and although on occasion temperatures have rose, in comparison to other years, it has never been really hot.
For now, it’s time to celebrate a wonderful race.
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