One could be forgiven in thinking that today, the two fastest runners in the 2018 Marathon des Sables, Rachid El Morabity and Natalia Sedykh had an easier day… They both won again, for Rachid that is two stage victories and for Natalia it is 3 out of 3. But the winning margin was just a handful of minutes for the duo. I think they are saving something for tomorrow’s long day of 86.2km.
Today’s stage by MDS standards was an epic one that combined a multitude of terrain. Soft sand, dunes, gorges, stoney climbs, exposed ridges, the technical climb and descent of Jebel El Oftal and then an easy and relatively flat fast run in to the finish.
Rachid and Natalia dictated the day but Mohamed El Morabity and Magdalena Boulet was never far behind. It was a controlled day. In the end, Rachid finished the 31.6km in 2:36:20. Mohamed followed just over 1-minute later in 2:37:32 and then ever present Abdelkader El Mouaziz was 3rd in 2:40:43. Peru’s Remigio Huaman had a good day today with 4th ahead of Aziz El Akad.
Despite the 1-hour time penalty, Russia’s Natalia Sedykh continues to push at the front. Today she finished 1st again just over 5-minutes ahead of Magdalena, 3:28:27 to 3:33:45. Magdalena leads the race overall but Natalia claws back the 1-hour time penalty little by little. I can’t help but think we may see an all out effort on the long day to bring things equal. It could be a risky strategy but what has Natalia to lose? Bouchra Eriksen once again was 3rd ahead of the UK’s Anna Marie Watson and Gemma Game who placed 4th and 5th respectively.
Despite some strong winds and sand storms in the night, day 3 of the MDS was calm with little wind, clear skies and relentless heat. It’s amazing to watch runners of all abilities fight their demons, particularly on the climb of the Jebel – it brings out some serious inner strength.
The key now is recovery. The long stage of the MDS is tomorrow and they have 35h to complete the 86.2km distance. Bodies and minds are now tired – everyone will need to dig deep!
- Natalia Sedykh 2:28:27
- Magdalena Boulet 3:33:45
- Bouchra Ericksen 3:39:13
- Anna Marie Watson 3:44:13
- Gemma Game 3:47:03
- Rachid El Morabity 2:36:20
- Mohamed El Morabity 2:37:32
- Abdlekader El Mouaziz 2:40:43
- Remigio Huaman 2:41:11
- Aziz El Akad 2:48:10
Overall GC going into the long stage:
- Rachid El Morabity 7:52:03
- Mohamed El Morabity 8:03:38
- Abdelkader El Mouaziz 8:08:59
- Magdalena Boulet 10:21:42
- Bouchra Eriksen 10:42:26
- Gemma Game 11:01:52
*Natalia Sedykh 11:03:22
Full Results HERE