Marathon des Sables 2023 #MDS Stage 2

Ragne Debats ©iancorless

It was a tough first day to the 2023 Marathon des Sables with 17 dropping out, a combination of heat, dehydration and exhaustion. Although a shorter day-2 was welcomed, it had increased technicality and vertical gain, therefore making it an equally hard day.

Mathieu Blanchard ©iancorless

Mood in camp was high, many telling war wound stories of day-1 and somewhat apprehensive about what was to come.

Aziz and Mohammed ©iancorless

From the gun, Rachid went hard and immediately opened a gap. A rare tactic for him, he usually like to hold back and slowly speed up. Today, boom, he was gone. By Cp1 the carnage behind was taking hold, the pace high!

Rachid ©iancorless

On one of the key ridges of the day, Rachid held a lead over the pursuing Aziz who was marked by Mohamed El Morabity, the brothers once again using tactics to an advantage. Mathieu Blanchard was 5th.

After Jebel El Otfal, the descent, following sand dunes and flat run to the line, Mohamed and Rachid switched places (a tactical move?) and Mohamed took victory in 2:29:05. Rachid followed in 2:29:30 and then Aziz 2:29:42.


What can we make of this? My thoughts are Rachid would like Aziz to think he is not as strong as he imagined, therefore casting a doubt… I wouldn’t be surprised if Rachid gave away minutes on stage 3 to the the pressure off for the long day, and then, attack!

Ragna attacj=king at the start ©iancorless

The women’s race once again was dominated by Ragna Debats, she is too strong! Of course, the race is not over, anything can happen, especially on a 90km long day, but, Ragna, in this form is unbeatable. She crossed the line in 3:19:14.

Maryline ©iancorless

Maryline Nakache and Aziza El Amrany ran together early in the day, but the elastic snapped and once again, Maryline pulled away to finish in 3:36:36. Wl Amrancy crossed in 3:55:55.

One to watch, Catherine (Katy( Young ©iancorless

Notably, Jodie Moss from the UK, 4th on stage 1, finished out of the top-5 today. A tactical move? I am sure she would prefer to start in the 0800 start and not the midday start for the long day.

Stage 3 is 34.4km and in principal, will be an easier day. But the heat is strong and the challenge real.

Stats -1085 runners started stage 1, of which 228 were women. At the end of stage 2, the drop outs were nearly 100!

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