Lanzarote Training Camp 2017 – Day 5

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Now THAT was a stunning day!

0700 and meeting at the run track at Club La Santa was not, in the majority, most peoples idea of fun. However, the glow of head torches and an easy run of around 1-hours around the trails and lagoon of CLS, very much set everyone up for a perfect day in Lanzarote.

Breakfast was followed by two talks. Rich Carpenter discussed his first Marathon des Sables in 2016 and talked us through his whole preparation and race. He pointed out what worked and what didn’t and he also provided some invaluable personal ‘tips’ that many could take away to improve their own future multi-day experience.

Ian and Niandi then discussed the travel to Morocco, what everyone could expect and they provided invaluable hints-and-tips to make the bivouac experience more pleasurable until the race started.

Lunch and an afternoon break was followed by a run run to a volcano and a series of hill reps. I guess it was a session many feared… But, by unanimous feedback, the session has been the most exciting, the most welcomed and the most inspiring. Everyone loved it!

It was inspirational to see some runners push themselves to their physical limit, while others conquered a fear of climbing, exposed ridges and technical terrain. It was a real winning session and one that set everyone up perfectly for evening drinks in the bar and a relaxing and casual dinner.

Tomorrow, Sunday, is a big day with a long run out and back along the coast.

Interested in our 2018 Training Camp? Go HERE

The Ultimate Equipment Guide to Desert Multi-Day Racing – Hints ‘n’ Tips

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Desert running brings many challenges and running in a desert for multiple days brings a whole new set of challenges. Over 30-years ago (1984), Patrick Bauer, filled up a pack with food and water and trekked off alone into the Algerian Sahara to cover 350km’s on foot in a self-sufficient manner. Little did he know at the time, but this journey was the start of something incredible, the Marathon des Sables.

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Also read

Top Tips To Better Multi-Day Running HERE

Multi-Day Food On The Cheap HERE

MDS as it is affectionately known paved the way not only for multi-day desert racing but ‘all’ multi-day racing, be that in snow, ice, rainforest, jungle or the mountains. If multi-day racing was the mafia, MDS would be the Corleone family and Patrick Bauer would be the Godfather – Don Vito Corleone.

All multi-day races have followed and tried to replicate the MDS format, however, the reality is, I have yet to experience a race that matches the size, the scale, the organisation and awe-inspiring splendor of what Bauer and his team have created in the Sahara. Ask anyone, despite experience, despite achievement, MDS is usually ‘on the bucket list!’ It’s fair to say, that MDS is directly attributable for many new ultra-runners. You see, MDS offers more than just running, it offers a challenge, it offers something quite unique – the Sahara and the MDS strips the runner back to basics and deprives them of all luxuries so that they are stripped raw. Runners find themselves in the desert.

 

The 32nd Marathon des Sables takes place in 2017 and runners all over the world are wondering and asking the question, “What equipment do I need for the MDS?”

This question is the same for many other desert races but I need to be clear, not all races are the same. For example, MDS requires the runner to be completely self-sufficient. This harks back to Bauer’s pioneering expedition in 1984. The runner must carry ‘all’ they need for the duration of the event, the only exception being:

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Bivouac – A simple tent cover is provided at the end of each day and this tent must be shared with 7 other runners.

Water – Water is provided in bivouac and out on the course but is rationed.

Anything else the runner needs must be carried – pack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food, snacks, luxuries etc.…

The above format is very similar for races such as the Grand to Grand in the USA, Racing the Planet races such as Atacama, Gobi and so on.

So, items discussed in this post directly relate to a ‘self-sufficient’ race in the MDS style. To clarify, races such as Big Red Run in Australia and The Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun in South Africa are ‘semi’ self-sufficient races and therefore runners can carry far less items and often bags are transported each day and therefore the runner can run light and fast. However, please keep in mind that many of the kit items and needs directly relate and are transferable.

The Detail

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Let’s be clear, it is important to note that equipment will not make you complete any race. What it can do is make the process easier and more comfortable. Equipment is something we all must take to any race and finding out what works and doing the research is part of the fun.

If you want to increase your chances of completing your chosen race, commit to the training required, get your head in the correct place and then finish off with the appropriate equipment for the job. Far too many stress about what equipment they need and neglect the appropriate training.

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Multi-day racing in its purest form should be very simple. However, over the year’s deciding what equipment to take has become increasingly more complicated.

It shouldn’t be complicated and in all honesty, it isn’t!

Here is just a simple list of absolute essentials, one could say that this list is mandatory:

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Buff
  • Jacket
  • T-Shirt
  • Shorts/ Skort
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Gaiters
  • Rucksack
  • Sleeping Mat (optional)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Head Torch
  • Flip-flops or similar
  • Toilet paper
  • Personal medical kit (feet etc.)
  • Spot Tracker (supplied at MDS, optional at other races)
  • Road Book (supplied)
  • Salt Tablets (supplied)
  • *Food for the required days
  • **Mandatory kit
  • ***Water

Optional items:

  • Warm jacket (usually down that packs small and light) – I consider this essential and not optional
  • Stove and Esbit fuel blocks
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Spare socks
  • Walking Poles
  • Goggles
  • Spare clothes (?)

Luxuries:

  • Mp3 player
  • Phone
  • Solar charger
  • Kitchen sink…

Perspective:

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Any multi-day race has (arguably) five types of participant:

  1. The elite races who will contest the high-ranking positions.
  2. Top age groupers who will look to race for a high place and test themselves overall.
  3. Competitive runners looking for a challenge.
  4. Those who wish to complete and not compete.
  5. Newbies who are out of their comfort zone.

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When one looks at kit and requirements, it’s easy to think that the needs of the top elites in group 1 will vary from those in group 5. I would arguably say no! All the runners need the same things; they all must carry the same mandatory kit and they all must carry the same minimum food requirement.

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I think the differences come with experience. Novices and newbies will more than likely prepare for the unknown, the ‘just in case’ scenario. Whereas top runners will be on a minimum, the absolute minimum. Groups 2- 4 are a mix of groups 1 and 5 and they fall somewhere between.

So, for me, groups 2, 3, 4 and 5 should (where possible) aim to be like group 1. The only key difference comes with shoe choice. Runners who will spend much longer on their feet and out on the course will most definitely need a shoe that can withstand that pressure and the shoe must also be good for walking. Groups 2-5 never fully appreciate (often until it’s too late) how much they will walk in a desert race.

EQUIPMENT IN DETAIL

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When looking at equipment, I am going to provide a brief synopsis and then some recommendations. I will then supply ‘my’ equipment list.

Hat – A hat is essential to keep the sun off your head; options exist that have a neck cover built in to avoid that delicate area that will almost certainly be in the sun all day.

Sunglasses – So many choice, but you need a good pair that has ideally a large lens to protect the eye. Some desert specific sunglasses include a brow pad that helps stop sweat dripping in your eye. Do you need prescription? If so, I use prescription Oakley and they are excellent. Do you need goggles? Yes and no. If you have good sunglasses with good coverage, then no. However, should a sand storm hit, it can be uncomfortable. Goggles guarantee no sand in the eyes.

Buff – A buff or even two are essential. One around the neck helps keep the sun off and you can also wet it to help reduce core temperature. In wind and sand storms, the Buff is lifted and protects mouth, nose and sometimes eyes. A spare Buff is a luxury but worth considering.

Jacket – Jacket choice will depend on sleeping bag choice. If you are using a light bag, a lightweight down jacket is an essential item. Look at Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer, Yeti Companyon Strato, Mont-Bell Plasma 1000 Down, Berghaus VapourLight (not down) and/ or PHD custom made.

T-Shirt – It’s not rocket science, you will have been running in a shirt already, if it works, why change it? I read countless arguments about should it be black or white – you know what, it doesn’t matter. Look at the elite runners, they are often sponsored and have little or no choice on colour. Comfort however is key.

Shorts/ Skort – Same answer as T-Shirt.

Socks – Getting the correct socks are key for any race and like I have said for shirt and shorts, if you have socks that work, why change? So many options exist but for me I am a firm believer in Injinji toe socks.

Shoes – Shoes are personal and must be suited to you, the individual. Consider your gait (neutral, supinate or pronate), consider time on feet, consider your weight, consider how much you will walk (and then double it) also consider shoe drop and how much cushioning you need. It’s impossible to recommend any one shoe because of these variables. You will see top runners using a lighter shoe, remember, these shoes only need to last 20-30 hours. However, you may well need a shoe for 40, 50 or 60-hours. Do you need a trail shoe? No, you don’t need a trail shoe but I would say that many trail shoes are more durable as they are designed for the rough and tumble of variable terrain. Do you need an aggressive outsole? No, you don’t, but I do think some grip is better than none and therefore I would use a trail shoe over road. Protection? Toe box protection is a good idea as deserts include lots or rocks, far more than you may think. Do I need a size bigger? Shoe sizing does depend on what is ‘normal’ for you. I always recommend a thumb nail of space above the big toe, you don’t need any more than this. Recommendations of going a size is bigger is bad advice in my opinion. A shoe that is too large allows your foot to move, a moving foot causes friction, friction causes blisters and the rest is the same old story that I see at desert races all over the world. However, I would recommend a shoe with a little more width in the toe box, this will allow for some comfort as the days progress. If you are prone to feet swelling, discomfort, blisters and so on, get a strategy sorted before you head out to your chosen race.

Gaiters – Are essential and they should be sewn and glued on to the shoe to guarantee that no sand can enter. Raidlight, MyRaceKit, WAA and Sandbaggers make versions of gaiters.

Rucksack – A rucksack is one of the most essential items for the race as it will hold on your kit for the duration of the event. Many versions exist and the type of pack you choose depends on many things: Male/ Female, Small/ Large, Tall/ Short and so on. Some packs just don’t work for some people. You also need to consider if you need a front pack to hold essential items. How will you drink on the go? How much do you plan to run in comparison to walk? I have some simple advice:

  • Keep the pack as small as possible, if you have a bigger pack you will just fill it.
  • Keep the pack simple – far too many packs are over complicated and messy
  • Keep the pack light
  • Make sure that drinks are accessible, easy to use and don’t bounce
  • See how the pack feels full with all food and then see how the pack feels with 5-days food missing.

Raidlight used to be ‘the’ pack for a multi-day race but that has changed in recent years. For sure, Raidlight are still one of the main options, however, the WAA pack is a ‘go-to’ at many races and the Ultimate Direction Fastpack is slowly but surely becoming a favourite. New entries to the market are coming from Salomon and OMM have been making packs for multi-day adventures for years.

Sleeping Mat (optional) – Inflatable, Foam or no mat. I’m a firm believer in taking a mat, the weight v comfort is a no brainer. I would also choose an inflatable mat even though it does run a risk of puncture. However, with good admin, good care, in years of using inflatable I have never had an issue. A foam mat is guaranteed to last the race but for me a large and cumbersome. OMM make a very thin foam mat that they use as the back padding for their packs – this may be a god option for the real minimalist runner. Look at products from Thermarest, Sea to Summit, Klymvit and OMM.

Sleeping bag – Like the pack, a sleeping bag is a key item is it is likely to be the largest and heaviest item (except food and water) that you will carry. A sleeping bag is important as a good night’s rest is key for day-to-day running. If you are on a budget, Raidlight offer a ‘Combi’ that is a sleeping bag that converts into a jacket. You kill two birds with one stone and the price is a bargain. However, for me it has downsides – it’s large, heavy and offers limited flexibility with temperature regulation. I will always go with a sleeping bag and down jacket scenario is this for me provides less weight, less packed size, more flexibility and the option to get warmer at night by wearing the jacket inside the bag. Problem is, this comes at a price. A lightweight down bag and jacket will be more than likely three to four times the price of the Raidlight Combi. Also, consider your size, shoulder width, height and so on. Some bags are very small whereas bags such as PHD and Yeti can be purchased in small, medium or large. Recommended bags are PHD (custom or off-the peg), Yeti, Western Mountaineering, Haglofs, OMM (not down) and Raidlight.

Head Torch – Don’t compromise, you need a good head-torch that provides enough light for running in a black desert at night. Don’t use rechargeable or a torch with gizmos. You just ideally need variable power, a red-light option so you don’t disturb others at night and it will either take AA or AAA batteries. Recommendations are Black Diamond, Petzl, Silva or LED Lenser.

Flip-flops – Free slippers that hotels give away are popular as they are small, fold and are lightweight. However, they don’t stay on and they don’t protect from thorns or stones. Cheap, lightweight plastic or rubber flip flops work for me. I have seen some improvised flip-flops made from run shoe insoles and some string. It’s that group 1 to group 5 scenario again!

Personal medical kit (feet etc.) – Foot care is essential and although many races have a medical team on hand to look after you and your feet, understanding how to do this yourself is key. learn foot care and treatment and understand how to tape your feet. Ready-made foot care kits are available such as this at MyRaceKit here

Spot Tracker (supplied at MDS, optional at other races)

Road Book (supplied)

*Food for the required days – (see clarification below). Food is very personal and it’s imperative you find out what works for you based on your size, gender, calorie burn and speed of running. The front runners will use carbohydrate and fat as fuel as they will run at a faster pace and therefore they will potentially fuel ‘during’ each stage with carbs. However, as you move through the pack going into groups 2-5 the need for fat as a fuel is more important and therefore ALL runners before heading out to any multi-stage race should ideally have taught their bodies to use fat – we have an unlimited supply of this fuel! Post run it’s important to repair, we need protein for this and re-stock energy supplies, we need carbs for this. Dehydrated meals for many runners form the basis of a morning meal and evening meal. Many options are available, some people can eat anything, others are very particular. Keep in mind allergies such as gluten intolerance and decide in advance will you go hot or cold food. For me, the additional weight of a Titanium stove and fuel is worth it for hot food and a drink. We sampled some dehydrated food in 2015 HERE. In 2015, my partner Niandi Carmont ran Marathon des Sables and we worked hard to reduce pack weight to the minimum and we made sure we dialed food choices in to provide her with her desired calorie needs but also keep weight low.

As an example:

  • Dehydrated Meals x6 672g
  • Dried Mango 93g x 4 372g
  • Porridge 59g x 7 413g
  • Coffee 1g x 10 10g
  • Peanut Butter 33g x 5 165g
  • Honey 21g x 8 168g
  • Mini Salami 10g x 10 100g
  • Tropical Mix Bag 194g
  • Sesame Bites 27g x 6 162g
  • Dried Banana Block 270g
  • Mixed Nuts 200g x 2 400g
  • Macademia Nuts Bag 153g
  • Cranberries Bag 175g
  • Pitta Wraps 296g

Total Weight 3550g

**Mandatory kit – see clarification

***Water – see clarification

MY EQUIPMENT LIST

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It’s important to note that equipment must be specific to the race you are doing and race conditions. The list below is an example of equipment for Marathon des Sables. However, if I was going to Atacama or the Grand to Grand (both self-sufficient) I would be looking at a heavier and warmer sleeping bag and a warmer jacket. Temperatures at night get much colder than the Sahara. The Grand to Grand can also have rain. If a rain jacket is on your list, the inov-8 AT/C Stormshell at 150g is hard to beat.

It’s important to note that equipment will not make you complete any race. What it can do is make the process easier and more comfortable. If you were looking for a one-stop solution, I would say that if you went away and purchased the equipment list below, you would have a comfortable and successful race. The exceptions come with shoes, that is personal and food. Food choices below are personal but a good example, you must find what works for you.

Also, note that minimum pack weight (on day one) at MDS is 6.5kg. So, you can keep purchasing lighter and lighter and then find that you are too light. I have done this. The plus side of this, is that lighter equipment allows you to take more food and/ or more options – again a good thing. For example, in my equipment list, I could go with a slightly lighter jacket, I could not take poles and I could leave the iPods at home and that would allow me 2 or 3 more dehydrated meals. However, I would prefer the equipment I want and am happy with and add 2,3,4 or 500g for the first day. Remember, the pack gets lighter as the day’s pass.

WEARING:

Hat: inov-8 or The North Face

inov-8-hat

Shirt: inov-8 AT/C Base with zip or The North Face ‘Flight’ Series – Both light and functional and allow air flow. I don’t like tight or compression as they are too hot.

inov-8-atc-t-shirt

Shorts: inov-8 AT/C 8” Short or The North Face ‘Flight’ Series – Both light and functional and allow air flow. I don’t like tight or compression as they are too hot.

inov-8-atc-trail-short

Socks: Injinji Trail Midweight or Injinji Outdoor 2.0 (which is Merino wool)

injinji-midweight

Shoes: The North Face Ultra Endurance, Scott Kinabalu Supertrac or inov-8 Trail Talon – Please note, I am a ‘neutral’ runner who prefers a moderately cushioned shoe with an 8mm drop. I would happily use any of these shoes in any multi-day race. They are comfortable, take a gaiter well, have good protection and they work excellently when walking. Remember what I said, shoes are very personal.

scott-kinabalu-supertrac

tnf-ultra-enduranceinov-8-trail-talon-275

Watch: Suunto Ambit 3 Peak 3 – Has enough battery life for a whole race. If I was worried about weight I would just go with a cheap digital.

Buff: Any

Glasses: Oakley Prescription – Prizm Trail Flak 2.0 has interchangeable lenses so I can switch from clear and smoke

oakley-flak-20-xl-matte-black-black-iridium

IN THE PACK:

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L 520g – It’s a simple pack that is light, fits to the torso well, comes in S/M or M/L, holds two large bottles comfortably against the torso and importantly they don’t bounce and it has 3 external stretch pockets. The main compartment has a roll-top closure, so, as pack contents get less, you can roll the pack smaller to reduce any problems with contents moving around.

ultimate-direction-fastpack-20

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket 180g – is super light, has a full zip and pockets, it’s a jacket I can use anywhere. I could go lighter, a little lighter, for example, the Mont-Bell is 50g lighter!

mountain-hardwear-ghost-whisperer

PHD Minimus K Sleeping Bag 380g – PHD work for me, you can have them custom made with or without zips and they are excellent. Yeti make a bag that is more than 100g lighter but I prefer the warmth and comfort of the PHD.

phd-minim-ultra-k

Thermarest Prolite Small 310g – Small, comfortable and you can double up and use it as padding in your pack.

 thermarest-prolite-small

Black Diamond Carbon Z Poles 290g – Lightweight and folding that provide 4-wheel drive when walking.

black-diamond-carbon-z-pole

Black Diamond Spot Headtorch w/ batteries and spares 120g – Powerful (200 lumens), lightweight with many varied settings.

 black-diamond-spot

Esbit Stove 11g – Small, lightweight and simple.

esbit-stove

Esbit Titanium Pot 106g – Small, lightweight and durable.

esbit-pot 

Esbit Fuel 168g

esbit-fuel

iPod Shuffle x2 64g – Life saver

Buff 16g – Essential

Spare Socks 91g – Injinji Trail Midweight or Injinji Outdoor 2.0 (which is Merino wool) 

Flip-Flops 150g – But Xero True Feel are good.

 sandals

Total Weight 2406g If I was looking to be very minimalist and as light as possible, I would not take the stove, pot and fuel and the poles, total 1831g. But, I would probably prefer the option for hot food/ drinks and work around no poles, so total weight would be 2116g.

EXTRAS:

  • Compeed 22g
  • Sportshield 8g
  • Corn Wraps 8g
  • Spork 10g
  • Pen Knife 22g
  • Compass 32g
  • Matches 20g
  • Savlon Antiseptic 18g
  • Toothpaste 36g
  • Tooth Brush 15g
  • Superglue 3g
  • Space Blanket 60g
  • Hand Gel 59g
  • Wipes 85g
  • Toilet Paper 36g
  • Safety Pins 5g
  • Ear Plugs 2g
  • Venom Pump 28g
  • Blindfold 15g
  • Sun Cream 80g
  • Whistle 15g
  • Signal Mirror 12g
  • SPOT Tracker 113g

Total Weight 806g

TOTALS:

Pack and Main Kit Contents: 2406g

Extras: 806g

Food: 3550g

Total 6762g

This pack weight includes poles and cooking utensils plus luxuries like Mp3

 (water would be added to this weight)

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IN SUMMARY

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I enjoy the process of looking at kit, looking at the options available and working out what is best for me and my situation. In some respects, I am lucky as I can test many items out in the market place and decide what I do and what I don’t like. However, trust me, products these days are so good that you can’t go wrong with almost any of the choices. Yeti, PHD, Haglofs etc. all make great sleeping bags, they will all work. Mountain Hardwear, Yeti, Mont-Bell etc. down jackets are all excellent, they all work. I could go on, but you get the picture. Like I said at the beginning, multi-day and desert racing is not complicated, don’t make it so. The only item you need to be sure on is shoes, make sure you get that right. But then again, I am sure you were running before you entered your multi-day race? You were using run shoes, be them road or trail and one must assume that they gave you no problems? If the answer is yes – why change them!

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Finally, we all love equipment and gadgets, it’s fun to go shopping and get new items. However, being physically fit and mentally strong is what will get you to the finish line – equipment is just part of the process, remember that.

Good luck!

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Clarification:

*Food (As required at Marathon des Sables)

He/she must select the type of food best suited to his/her personal needs, health, weather conditions, weight and backpack conditions. We remind you that airlines strictly forbid the carrying of gas (for cooking) on board either as hand luggage or otherwise. Each competitor must have 14 000 k/calories, that is to say a minimum of 2,000 k/calories per day, otherwise he/she will be penalized (see ART. 27 and 28). Any food out of its original packaging must be equipped, legibly, of the nutrition label shown on the product concerned. Any food out its original packaging must be equipped, legibly, of the nutrition label shown on the product concerned. 

**Mandatory Kit (as specified at Marathon des Sables)

  • 10 safety pins
  • Compass 1deg precision
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Disinfectant
  • Venom pump
  • Signal mirror
  • Survival blanket
  • Sun cream
  • 200-euro note
  • Passport
  • Medical certificate

***Water (as specified for Marathon des Sables)

Liaison stage: 10.5 liters per person per day

  • 1.5 liters before the start each morning,
  • 2 or 3 x 1.5 liters during the race, at check points,
  • 4.5 liters at arrival post.

Marathon stage: 12 liters per person per day:

  • 1.5 litre before the start in the morning,
  • 1.5 liters at check-points 1 and 3,
  • 3 liters at check-point 2,
  • 4.5 liters at arrival post. 

Non-stop stage: 22.5 liters per person over 2 days:

  • 1.5 liters before the start of the race in the morning,
  • 1.5 liters at check-points 1, 3, 6,
  • 1.5 or 3 liters at check-points 2, 4 and 5,
  • 4.5 liters at arrival post,
  • 4.5 liters at the bivouac.

Why not join our Multi-Day Training Camp in Lanzarote with 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes. The camp takes place in January each year.

Information HERE

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Support on PATREON HERE

support_patreon

Episode 85 – Marathon des Sables Special

EP85

Episode 85 is a 30th anniversary MDS special with Niandi Carmont co-hosting and discussing her race in depth. We speak with ladies champ, Elisabet Barnes and Darren Grigas and Ian Knight tell us all about their races. Robbie Britton also joins us and provides an insight into his 3rd place at the IAU 24-hour champs. The News, Up and Coming races and hopefully some RnR.
NEWS
 
IAU 24-hour
Reus Florian 263.899
Szynal Pawel 261.181
Robbie Britton 261.140
INTERVIEW – ROBBIE BRITTON
Katalin Nagy 244.495
Traci Falbo 239.740
Maria Jansson 238.964
Buffalo Stampede SkyRace
Stevie Kremer 4:26
Hanny Alston 4:31
Mira Rai 4:52
Blake Hose 3:59
David Byrne 4:20
Michel Lanne 4:22
Buffalo Stampede Ultra
Tom Owens 8:17
Andrew Tuckey 8:28
Marty Lurkes 8:53
Landie Greyling 9:40
Beth Cardelli 9:59
Julie Quinn 10:05
Lake Sonoma 50
Alex Varner 6:09 CR
Ryan Bak 6:23
Jared Hazen 6:31
Steph Howe 7:08 CR
Cassie Scallon 7:22
Ashly Erba 7:36
BLOG
 
INTERVIEWS – ELISABET BARNES, IAN KNIGHT and DARREN GRIGAS
 
UP & COMING RACES
 

Austria

Tiroler Abenteuerlauf 60 KM | 60 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Belgium

Brussels Capital Region

Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Wallonia

La Bouillonnante – 56 km | 56 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

British Virgin Islands

Tortola Torture | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Canada

Ontario

Pick Your Poison 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Chile

Ultra Fiord 100K | 100 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

Ultra Fiord 70K | 70 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

China

Dalian 100 | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Dalian 50 | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Shangri-La 100k | 100 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Shangri-La 50k | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Croatia

100 Miles of Istria | 100 miles | April 17, 2015 | website

100 Miles of Istria – 105 km | 105 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

100 Miles of Istria – 65 km | 65 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Denmark

Hovedstaden

Salomon Hammer Trail Bornholm -100 Miles | 100 miles | May 01, 2015 | website

Salomon Hammer Trail Bornholm – 50 miles | 50 miles | May 01, 2015 | website

Ethiopia

Ethiopian Lakes Trail | 85 kilometers | April 27, 2015 | website

France

Alpes-Maritimes

Ultra Trail des Balcons d’Azur (79+25) | 104 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Ultra Trail des Balcons d’Azur (UTBA) | 79 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Ardèche

Trail l’Ardéchois – 57 km | 57 kilometers | May 01, 2015 | website

Ariège

Trail des Citadelles – 70 km | 73 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Aveyron

Trail du Capuchadou | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Trail “Le Roc de la Lune” – 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Trans Aubrac | 105 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Bas-Rhin

Le Challenge des Seigneurs | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Le Défi des Seigneurs | 74 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Le Grand Défi des Vosges | 58 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

L’Intégrale | 132 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Dordogne

100 km de Belvès en Périgord Noir | 100 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Morbihan

Bretagne Ultra Trail – 115 km | 115 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Bretagne Ultra Trail – 63 km | 63 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Seine-et-Marne

Grand Trail du Sonneur | 66 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Ultra Trail de la Brie des Morin | 87 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Seine-Maritime

Le RaDicAtrAil – 110 km | 110 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Le RaDicAtrAil – 56 km | 56 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Var

French Ultra Festival – 50 km Marche | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Vosges

Trail des Roches | 73 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Lauf “Rund um Wolfach” | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Bavaria

Chiemsee-Ultramarathon April | 108 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Lower Saxony

HeXenStieg Ultralauf | 219 kilometers | April 24, 2015 | website

Hexentanz | 104 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Rhineland-Palatinate

Bärenfels 50 km Trail | 50 kilometers | May 01, 2015 | website

Saxony

Saxonian Mt. Everestmarathon | 84390 meters | April 18, 2015 | website

Saxony-Anhalt

Harzquerung – 51 km | 51 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Greece

300 of Sparta | 378 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Doliho Ultra-Marathon | 255 kilometers | May 01, 2015 | website

Hungary

Mátrabérc Trail | 55 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

India

Sandakphu 70 Mile Himalayan Race | 70 miles | April 26, 2015 | website

Israel

Mountain to Valley Relay | 215 kilometers | April 29, 2015 | website

The Sea to Jerusalem 70 km Ultra | 70 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

50 KM di Romagna | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Lombardy

UMS Ultramaratona Milano Sanremo | 280 kilometers | May 01, 2015 | website

Sicily

Lafuma Volcano Trail | 80 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Tuscany

The Abbots Way | 125 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Tuscany Crossing Val d’Orcia 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Tuscany Crossing Val d’Orcia 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Japan

Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 112 km | 112 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 72 km | 72 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Fuji Five Lakes 100 km Challenge | 100 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Fuji Five Lakes 118 km Challenge | 118 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Fuji Five Lakes 71 km Challenge | 71 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Madagascar

Semi Trail des Ô Plateaux | 65 kilometers | May 01, 2015 | website

Ultra Trail des Ô Plateaux | 130 kilometers | May 01, 2015 | website

Nepal

Everest Ultra | 65 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Mustang Trail Race | 170 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Trail des Trois Vallées | 353 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Netherlands

Limburg

Limburgs Zwaarste 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Limburgs Zwaarste 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Limburgs Zwaarste 80 km | 80 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Poland

Beskidzka 160 Na – Long Distance | 84 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Portugal

75 km | 75 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Gerês Trail Aventure® | 130 kilometers | April 30, 2015 | website

Gerês Trail Aventure® Starter | 70 kilometers | April 30, 2015 | website

Peneda-Gerês Trail Aventure® | 280 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Serbia

Fruska Gora Ultra Plus | 111 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

South Africa

Loskop Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Slow-Mag Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

The Hobbit 100 | 100 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Spain

Andalusia

TrailRunning BRIMZ “Guzmán el Bueno” X Sierra Morena – 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Balearic Islands

Trail Mallorca Serra de Tramuntana | 62 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Ultra Mallorca Serra de Tramuntana | 102 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Canary Islands

Anaga Ultratrail 88 km | 88 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Catalonia

Long Trail Barcelona | 69 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Oxfam Intermón Spain – Girona | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Ultra Trail Barcelona | 100 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Sweden

Täby Extreme Challenge 100 miles | 100 miles | April 19, 2015 | website

Täby Extreme Challenge 50 miles | 50 miles | April 19, 2015 | website

Tunisia

100km of Sahara | 110 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Ahotu_7e740fcacd0b51330fbaTurkey

Iznik 130K Ultramarathon | 130 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Orhangazi Ultra Marathon 80K | 80 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

East Dunbartonshire

Highland ‘Fling’ | 53 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Northumberland

Kielder Ultra Trail 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Kielder Ultra Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Kielder Ultra Trail 80 km | 80 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

North Yorkshire

The Fellsman | 60 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Worcestershire

The Evesham Ultra | 46 miles | April 26, 2015 | website

United States Minor Outlying Islands

Brazos Bend 50 | 50 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

USA

Alabama

Grand Viduta Stage Race | 43 miles | April 24, 2015 | website

Race Across Alabama – Border to Border (7 Marathons) | 210 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Arkansas

Ouachita Trail 50 Km | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Ouachita Trail 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

California

Diablo Trails Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Folsom Lake Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Leona Divide 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Leona Divide 50 Miles | 50 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Lost Boys 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Mokelumne River 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Mokelumne River 50M | 50 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Rodeo Beach Rumble 50K | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Ruth Anderson 100k | 100 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Ruth Anderson 50k | 50 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Ruth Anderson 50M | 50 miles | April 19, 2015 | website

Sierra Azul Challenge 50K Run | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Sierra Azul Challenge 50 Miles Run | 50 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Colorado

Cheyenne Mtn. Trail 50K Race | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

C.U.R.E Ultra’s 100K | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

C.U.R.E Ultra’s 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

C.U.R.E Ultra’s 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Desert R.A.T.S. 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Desert R.A.T.S. Double Marathon | 52 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Rattler Trail Races 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Connecticut

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 100k | 100 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50k | 50 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50M | 50 miles | April 26, 2015 | website

Traprock 50 | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Florida

DTR Endurance Race 50k | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

JWCorbett 50K | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

JWCorbett 50M | 50 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Georgia

DoubleTop 100 100k | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

DoubleTop 100 100M | 100 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Double Top 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Double Top 100 Mile | 100 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Double Top 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Race Across Georgia – Border to Border (7 Marathons) | 194 miles | April 27, 2015 | website

Race Across Georgia – Silver Comet (4 Marathons) | 107 miles | April 27, 2015 | website

SweetH20 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Idaho

Menan Butte Trail Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Weiser 50k Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Weiser 50k Ultra Relay | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Illinois

Earth Day 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Indiana

Indiana Trail 100 | 100 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Indiana Trail 50 | 50 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Kansas

FlatRock 101K Ultra Trail Race | 101 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Free State Trail Runs 100 km Trail Ultra | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Free State Trail Runs 40-Mile Trail Ultra | 40 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Kentucky

Vol State 500K 2 Person Relay | 500 kilometers | April 23, 2015 | website

Vol State 500K 3 Person Relay | 500 kilometers | April 23, 2015 | website

Vol State 500K 4 Person Relay | 500 kilometers | April 23, 2015 | website

Yamacraw 50k | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Maryland

C&O Canal 100 | 100 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Massachusetts

Don’t Run Boston 50K | 50 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

TARC 50M | 50 miles | April 19, 2015 | website

TARC Spring Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Michigan

Running Fit Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Traverse City Trail Running Festival 50k Run | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Minnesota

Trail Mix Race MN – 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Missouri

Double Chubb 50k | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Frisco Railroad Run 50k Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Frisco Railroad Run 50 Mile Ultramarathon | 50 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Nevada

Henderson Trail Classic 55K Trail Race | 55 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

New York

100 Mile PEACE Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | April 17, 2015 | website

Sybil Ludington 50K Run | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

North Carolina

Cures for Colors 100 Mile Run/Walk | 100 miles | April 25, 2015 | website

Leatherwood Ultras 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Leatherwood Ultras 50M | 50 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Run the Rock Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Pennsylvania

Hyner Ultra Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

The Ironmasters Challenge – 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Texas

Hog’s Hunt 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

The Aoudad 50K | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Utah

Salt Flats 100 | 100 miles | April 24, 2015 | website

Salt Flats 50 | 50 miles | April 24, 2015 | website

Virginia

Bel Monte 50K Endurance Run | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Bel Monte 50 mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Promise Land 50K | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

The North Face Endurance Challenge Washington DC 50K | 50 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

The North Face Endurance Challenge Washington DC 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 18, 2015 | website

Washington

Capitol Peak Ultra Marathon – 50 mile | 50 miles | April 26, 2015 | website

Capitol Peak Ultra Marathon – 55 km | 55 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Mt. Si 50K Relay & Ultra Runs | 50 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Mt. Si 50 Mile Relay & Ultra Runs | 50 miles | April 26, 2015 | website

Palouse 100K Relay – 2-3 runners | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Palouse 100K Relay – 4-10 runners | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Palouse 100K Solo | 100 kilometers | April 18, 2015 | website

Snake River Island Hop 100K | 100 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Snake River Island Hop 50K | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

Spokane River Run 50K | 50 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

XTERRA Spring Eagle 50K | 50 kilometers | April 26, 2015 | website

Yakima Skyline Rim 50k | 50 kilometers | April 19, 2015 | website

Wisconsin

Chippewa 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2015 | website

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Marathon des Sables 2015 #MDS2015 – Race Images

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The 30th edition of the iconic Marathon des Sables is over! What a race… we all knew that race director, Patrick Bauer would create something special and he did not disappoint.

Tough stages and the longest days had runners tackling 92km’s, the longest stage ever in the 30 year history of the race.

Rachid El Morabity (20:21:39) won the men’s race once again in true style and Elisabet Barnes (26:42:13) showed pure class in winning every stage of the ladies race. A race summary will follow.

Below is a selected portfolio that encompasses the 30th edition of the race. A full image gallery will be uploaded to iancorless.phtoshelter.com in due course.

All images ©iancorless.com

Marathon des Sables 2015 (30th Edition) – RACE PREVIEW

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MDS, Marathon des Sables, The Toughest Race in the World… whatever you want to call it, the 30th edition is just around the corner. Think about it, 30-years. It’s quite incredible how this race has grown and has become ‘the’ multiday race to do irrespective of experience. It was the first and arguably is still the best offering an ultimate adventure for novice and experienced runner.

Many a runner has started a passion for running at MDS and as such; the race will always be an important landmark for many. But it’s more than a race. It’s an experience, it’s escape and it’s a challenge.

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The combination of self-sufficiency, life in bivouac and running 250-km’s through the heat of the Sahara is something that those that have experienced it will never forget. It is the story of life, a story of men and women who have come to the heart of the desert to rid themselves of the superficial to keep only the essentials and get in touch with their true selves.

For the past three decades, some 18,000 runners have signed up for this experience, so, with the imminent running of the 2015 edition, it’s fair to say that race will see a great number of participants returning to ‘celebrate’ a very important birthday.

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Lasting six days participants must be self-sufficient carrying everything they need in a pack. Water is provided but rationed and a tent (bivouac) is provided each evening that must be shared with seven other participants.

The 2015 edition of the race will be 250-km’s offering a series of challenges that will test the mind and body in equal measure. Dunes, djebels, ergs and dried-up lakes offer a stunning backdrop that must be traversed. Battling against sand, heat and above all the mind completing the 30th edition of the Marathon des Sables will be a dream come true for those who toe the line.

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THE ROUTE for 2015

Stage 1 – Sunday 5th April

Here we have a very uneven playing field and a sufficient number of kilometers to make their presence felt. Competitors will have to run, avoid the obstacles and climb the surrounding uphill sections. The first dunes are between CP1 and CP2. It is fair to say that day-1 of the 30th MARATHON DES SABLES will be a long one.

Stage 2 – Monday 6th April

Those who imagine the desert to be flat are in for a surprise. Three steep little climbs form this second leg, with gradients reaching 30%… A new kind of roller-coaster ride which will open up landscapes that will be a sight to behold.

Stage 3 – Tuesday 7th April

Sand will be omnipresent today with some stony sections and some dried-up lakes. There will be a little something for everyone with some uphill sections here and there.

Stage 4 – Wednesday 8 / Thursday 9 April

A tough initial climb will hurt the legs, especially as it’s going to be a long day. Indeed this particular day will be the longest leg in the history of the MDS. And if that wasn’t enough, a climb of nearly a kilometer up a djebel awaits. At the summit runners will have 360° panoramic views. As for the descent, well it’s steep! After that, runners then traverse dunes, dried-up lakes and more dunes!

Stage 5 – Friday 10 April

Today’s route has a mixture of terrain that are hallmarks of the MDS, it’s a classic day!

Stage 6 -Saturday 11 April – SOLIDARITY UNICEF legs

For the majority of the participants, this leg is
a time for reflecting on the experience of this fine human adventure and is a united show of awareness before returning to civilization.

RUNNERS TO WATCH

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Antoine Guillon was second three times, third once and fourth three times in the Diagonale des Fous in addition, he is always well placed in the UTMB. Offered a place by the UTWT, Antoine will try his luck in the 30th MDS for the first time. Antoine just placed 3rd at Transgrancanaria, so his form is good. Can he recover in time?

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Christophe Le Saux never seazes to amaze me with his relentless racing calendar, he was 10th in 2014, 9th in 2013, 6th in 2012.

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Carlos Sà is a regular at MDS and has a wealth of talent and experience to excel. He was 4th last year’s, 7th in 2013. 4th in 2012 and 8th in 2011.

Dave Mackey has been one of the top American ultra runners for many years and he has excelled at the 100-km distance. His participation at MDS marks a new departure for him and it will be interesting to see how he handles racing over multiple days.

Javier Teixido Marti-Ventosa is the 2014 winner of the Andorra Ultra-Trail Ultra-Mitic (112km).

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Danny Kendall gets a nod from a UK perspective. He placed 5th last year and we can only hope that he moves up the rankings with a podium place. He knows the race, he knows the conditions and he understands survival in the Sahara; he just needs to bring it all together once again.

All six will be attempting to topple the Moroccan and Jordanian supremacy by keeping a close eye on the following:

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Mohamad Ahansal like his brother, Lahcen needs no introduction. He has 15 participations in the MDS, which includes 5 victories. He has been 2nd no less than 9 times and 3rd in 2014.

Abdelkader El Mouaziz placed 7th in 2014 on his first participation, he will be looking to improve in 2015.

Samir Akhdar has had several participations at MDS placing 6th in 2011 and 7th in 2009. 
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Salameh Al Aqra is always smiling and a great presence in the race, he was 1st in 2012, 2nd in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014 and placed 3rd in 2009 and 2011.

In the female contingent:

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Laurence Klein targets her 4th victory after making the podium in 2014 and 2013.

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Meghan Hicks champion in 2013, missed 2014 through injury and will be setting her sights on a 2nd win.

Liza Howard is the holder of a number of 100-mile race records and American champion over 100km and 50 miles in 2011, should have what it takes to treat the United States to a third crown in a row after Nikki Kimball and Meghan Hicks.

Jolanda Linschooten gets a heads up from my friend Jeroen Krosse and he says, ‘one to watch’ for sure. So I agree, she is one to watch. Jolanda has been 2nd and 4th before!

Claire Morrisey is the British hope who returns after placing 7th in 2014.

INSPIRING STORIES:

Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal, ten-time winner of the
MDS between 1997 and 2007 is
making a comeback this year after six years
absence. “I wanted to hook back up with this race through
a goal that isn’t purely competitive, but also human”, admits
the athlete who has agreed to act as a guide to the partially
sighted German runner, Harald Lange. “After pulling off the
challenge of securing 10 victories, I now want to rack up 20
participations. And why not be around for the 40th and 50th
editions too?” It should be said that Lahcen has not forgotten
his encounter with this legendary race, which has transformed his life. “I looked on with curiosity and amazement as the 23 athletes took the start of the first edition in 1986. From then on, I constantly dreamt that I, a nomadic child, would participate in this race. It has spurred on my life and created in me such a strong desire for sporting and human emancipation that I moved mountains to make my dream a reality some seven years later. It’s thanks to this race that I’ve become the man I am today.” Also of note, is the fact that another blind runner will participate in this edition as Didier Benguigui is returning with his guide, Gilles Clain, to celebrate his 11th edition.

The “4 Dinosaurs MDS” team comprises two French runners, Christian Ginter and François Cresci, one Moroccan, Karim Mosta and one Italian, Paolo Zubani, none of whom wanted to miss the 30th anniversary of the SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES. Between them, these four passionate runners already boast a total of 105 participations, which amounts to 27 out of 29 editions for the restaurant owner-chef Christian Ginter and 26 for the other three. “The idea of creating a team of veterans came about in the tent last year”, beams Karim Mosta, the cheerful leader of this group of friends, who wouldn’t miss this key stage

The famous British explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, is embarking on a new adventure at 71 years of age. After earning the title of first man to reach the North and South Poles via land, the first person to traverse the Antarctic entirely on foot and the oldest Briton to climb Everest at 65 years of age, he now wants to become the oldest Briton to etch his name on the list of SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES 2015’ medalists.

At 83 years of age, Joseph Le Louarn will be the most senior participant in this 30th edition. “I said that I’d stop in 2012, at 80, but with the energy drummed up by this anniversary, I couldn’t resist,” smiles the runner who has always loved ‘ambitious projects’. Indeed some three years ago he was quoted as saying “Card games and meals for retired people aren’t for me. I need to move; I need goals. I want to stay fit for as long as possible.”

A native of Luxembourg, Simone Kayser Diederich, 3-time champion of the MARATHON DES SABLES (2002, 2004 and 2005), will take the start of this 30th edition to celebrate her 60th birthday and her 14th participation. It’s a similar scenario for Moroccan Nadia Dadoun, 56, who will celebrate her 16th participation in this SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES 2015, which is a record number of entries among the event’s female contingent.

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CRAZY STATS:

  • 150 volunteers to supervise the race,
  • 450 general support staff,
  • 120,000 liters of bottled mineral water,
  • 300 Berber and Saharan tents,
  • 120 all-terrain vehicles and trucks,
  • 2 Squirrel helicopters and 1 Cessna plane,
  • 8 Transavia ‘MDS special’ commercial planes,
  • 30 buses,
  • 4 dromedaries,
  • 1 incinerator lorry for burning waste,
  • 5 quad bikes to monitor race environment and safety,
  • 72 medical staff,
  • 2.3kms of Elastoplast,
  • 12,200 compresses,
  • 6,000 painkillers,
  • 150 liters of disinfectant,
  • 1 editing bus,
  • 5 cameras,
  • 1 satellite image station,
  • 10 satellite telephones,
  • 30 computers, fax and internet,
  • 18,000 competitors since 1986
  • 30% returning competitors, 70% international, 30% French, 
17% women, 45% veterans, 
30% in teams, 
10% walkers, 
90% alternate walking and running,
  • 14 km/hr.: average maximum speed, 3 km/hr.: average minimum speed,
  • 15 years of age for the youngest competitor and the oldest, 83!

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QUOTES

  • “The MARATHON DES SABLES is the United Nations. The runners come from all over the world, share the same emotions and help one another. All the boundaries are erased. We should take inspiration from it.” – Kirk McCall (United States)
  • “This event isn’t just a sporting activity. It’s a mental and philosophical process. In the desert, nature puts us back in our place at the heart of this environment. The MARATHON DES SABLES opens up new perspectives to us. People often think we’re crazy, but maybe they’re the crazy ones!” – Fernando Jose Castro Cabral (Brazil)
  • “The MARATHON DES SABLES represents Mecca. I come here for an annual pilgrimage. It purifies me.” – Amine Kabbaj (Morocco)
  • “Running in the desert purges me and enables me to empty my mind. I want to discover the desert by experiencing it from the inside. Each day, I recite a poem along the course. To think about poetry whilst running is a fantastic mental luxury. To run and be elsewhere through your thoughts… The sobriety of the desert is a source of inspiration.” – Duc Le Quang (Vietnam)
  • “In the MARATHON DES SABLES, you learn to rediscover and appreciate the simple pleasures. On top of that there is this solidarity between the runners. You run and you come across someone from Colombia, Portugal or China. You don’t know them but you share a moment with them. These encounters are worth all the money in the world.” – Nicolas Esterhazy (Belgium)

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Twenty-Nine years of victories.

Here is a who’s who of those 29-years.

1986 – Michel GALLIEZ (FRANCE) – Christiane PLUMERE (FRANCE)

1987 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1988 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1989 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Marie-Claude BATTISTELLI (FRANCE)

1990 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Claire GARNIER (FRANCE)

1991 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1992 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1993 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Irina PETROVNA (RUSSIA)

1994 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Valentina LIAKHOVA (RUSSIA)

1995 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Béatrice REYMANN (FRANCE)

1996 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Anke MOLKENTHIN (GERMANY)

1997 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1998 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1999 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Lisa SMITH (USA)

2000 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Pascale MARTIN (FRANCE)

2001 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Franca FIACCONI (ITALY)

2002 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2003 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Magali JUVENAL (FRANCE)

2004 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2005 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUX)

2006 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Géraldine COURDESSE (FRANCE)

2007 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2008 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2009 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2010 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Monica AGUILERA (SPAIN)

2011 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2012 – Salameh AL AQRA (JORDAN) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2013 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Meghan HICKS (USA)

2014 – Rachid ELMORABITY (MOROCCO) – Nikki KIMBALL (USA)

 

RACE SCHEDULE 2015

 

  • 3 April 2015 – Leave country of residence/Morocco – Arrival in Ouarzazate, bus transfer to 1st bivouac
  • 4 April 2015 – Administrative, technical and medical checks – Day to acclimatize 
  • From 5 to 10 April 2015 – Race in progress (The self-sufficiency begins from breakfast on the 1st leg)
  • 11 April 2015 – Solidarity UNICEF leg – (end of dietary self-sufficiency) – Transfer to Ouarzazate
  • 12 April 2015  – Day of relaxation
  • 13 April 2015 – Return to country of residence

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Marathon des Sables – A history in brief

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1984: At 28 years of age, Patrick Bauer decided to make for the Sahara to try to traverse a 350km expanse of uninhabited desert, on foot, alone, where he wouldn’t come into contact with a single village, oasis or watering place. Totally self-sufficient, with a rucksack weighing 35kg and containing water and food, he set off on a journey that was to last 12 days. It was the starting point of what was to become the MARATHON DES SABLES.

1986: The creation of the first MDS in the Moroccan Sahara. The 23 pioneers who took the start never imagined that their footprints would mark the start of a legendary event, which has today become a must among the major adventure sport meets. The creation of a non-mechanical competition in the Moroccan sands offers adventure runners a wealth of new prospects.

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1987: Creation of the MDS logo: the face of a runner covered by a keffiyeh, the eyes protected by a pair of sunglasses and the pipette from the runner’s water container clenched between the teeth.

1989: 170 competitors take the start of the race.

1991: The gulf drama puts the MDS at a disadvantage and the financial partners withdraw. Fortunately some runners answer the call. For these competitors, the true victory lies in meeting athletes from different backgrounds and their communion in the desert around the same goal. Sport proves once again that it can bring people together and create bonds.

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1992: One and the same regulation for everyone. This year sees the establishing of unexpected draconian tests, to ensure that each participant properly transports all his or her gear from one end of the course to the other. A 30-point charter is drawn up.

First participation by the Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal

1994: Arrival of the Doc Trotters at the event.

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1995: 10th anniversary. Since the start, over 1,500 men and women have left their footprint and their passion in the desert. Installation of water-pump for the inhabitants of the village of Ighef n’rifi (South of Er-Rachidia) – an idea by competitor Gilles Flamant and backed by Rolland Barthes and Patrick Bauer. Its success is to be repeated again and again

1996: First participation by Mohamed, a younger sibling of Ahansal. The two Moroccan brothers set off together and rank 4th and 5th respectively.

1997: This year heralds the start of the Ahansal saga. Morocco is honored with Lahcen’s first victory. He beats his two pursuers by nearly 30 minutes, despite them being international long-distance running champions.

1999: A mobile hospital on the MDS comes into being. There are around thirty practitioners on the ground, with doctors and nurses joining the caravan. A dedicated helicopter and ten all-terrain vehicles track the competitors each day. On- board these vehicles there are doctors of course, as well as high-tech equipment. The village boasts a genuine field hospital.

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2000: Internet puts in an appearance in the large MDS village. The organization decides to broadcast the texts and photos of the race live, day after day. The competitors can communicate with their nearest and dearest and receive messages of encouragement.

2001: For the first time the long leg, traditionally called “The 70”, exceeds the 80km barrier to reach 82km. The threshold of 240km is also surpassed since the 16th MARATHON DES SABLES spans 243km. Another first relates to the fact that there are no Moroccans on the podium this year.

2002: This edition is punctuated by a sandstorm, involving headwinds, which lasts the entire week. The doctors invent a machine for ‘low pressure cleansing’ to rinse out the runners’ eyes. Despite the difficult conditions, there are few retirements to report as the wind considerably reduces the temperature.

2005: The Luxembourg runner Simone Kayser is the first woman to win 3 MARATHON DES SABLES. For this 20th edition, the total number of runners exceeds 700 for the first time, with no fewer than 777 runners taking the start.

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2006: A drying wind and very high humidity levels cause damage to the runners’ bodies. Despite additional allocations of water, a whole series of retirements ensues. There are a total of 146 retirements ultimately, which equates to double that of the previous record… Race management decides to shorten the long leg by over 10km given how tired the runners seem.

2008: The Solidarité MDS association is created. The aim: to develop projects to assist children and disadvantaged populations in the domains of health, education and sustainable development in Morocco. 

2009: MDS is disrupted by flooding and the 1st and 6th stages are not able to take place. To avoid the flood zones, the organization is obliged to improvise new legs on a day-to-day basis. In this way, the edition goes down in legend for its 3rd leg, which is the longest ever contested: 92km of sand, loose stones and rocks… The leg even sees the retirement of Lahcen Ahansal… At the prize giving the 2 winners admit to having competed in their hardest MDS. However, it was also the shortest: 202km.

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2010: For its 25th edition, the number of participations reaches a record high of 1,013 participants. It is to be the longest MARATHON DES SABLES. It spans 250 kilometers with a course considered by former entrants to be the most difficult ever organized.

2012: A dramatic turn of events on the longest leg as the then leader in the overall standing, Rachid El Morabity (MAR) injures himself one kilometer from the finish. Medical examinations reveal a serious muscular lesion in the quadriceps. After over five years on the 2nd or 3rd step of the podium, Jordanian Salameh Al Aqra secures the title.

2013: 1,027 competitors on the start line make this a new participation record. New feature: a final “Charity” stage sponsored by UNICEF and traversing the Merzouga dunes round off the race. Sportswise, Mohamad Ahansal and Megan Hicks are the champions of the 231.5km event. On a human level, all of the finishers pull off their crazy bet.

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2014: 2011 winner, Moroccan Rachid El Morabity (MAR) wins the overall ranking and takes Mohamad Ahansal’s crown. In the women’s category, another American stamps her mark, Nikki Kimball. The French revelation is one Michaël Gras, 22 years of age, 8th overall and top Frenchman. A major athletics star, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj lines up to take the start of Saturday’s Unicef Charity leg.

Content and information provided by ©marathondessables

FOLLOW THE 2015, 30th EDITION on this WEBSITE in words and images.

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Nikki Kimball – ‘Hints ‘n’ Tips’ Marathon des Sables #MDS2015

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Nikki Kimball is one of the most highly respected ultra runners in the world, Her running CV is beyond comprehension. It all started in 2000 with a win at Escarpment Trail Run 30k at the age of 29.

In 2004, Nikki had a break through moment with victory at the iconic Western States. Nikki also won again in 2006 and in 2007 she did the ultra double winning Western States and UTMB in the same year.

An ever present in the world of ultra running, Nikki has often been referenced as a true pioneer of the sport. In 2014 Nikki ran the Marathon des Sables for the first time and won! The Marathon des Sables is 30-years old this year so I wondered, what knowledge could Nikki pass on before the 2015 edition.

Join our Multi-Day Training Camp in Lanzarote, Jan 28th – Feb 4th 2016. Booking and details available HERE

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It’s been a while Nikki, when did we last speak?

No, we spent a week together in Morocco.

Exactly… April, not that log ago I guess. A great place to start: was that your first multi day race?

I have done Jungle Marathon in Brazil, very similar to MDS but a lot less comfortable due to humidity. I did that in 2009. You need to carry all your gear just like MDS and I have done Transrockies too which is like summer camp.

I knew you had done Transrockies but not the Jungle Marathon.

 Oh yeah, Transrockies is a vacation.

 What enticed you to Morocco and MDS, great way to start a year?

Yes, I guess. I thought it would be great training for Western States. That was my initial goal. The UTWT helped me get me to Morocco so I must thank them. I had wanted to do MDS for some time but the financial side was an issue. I got the opportunity and wow; it was just awesome. It was so much more than what I expected. I was overwhelmed by the race. It is so professional, so impressive it is quite mind blowing. It was an incredible week of running.

So many have a perception of what MDS is. From a UK perspective it is an expensive race… USA also. The entry fee is high; I guess travel from the UK is okay but less so from the USA. It costs thousands of pounds and dollars. I am often asked: why does it cost so much? But having experienced it, it is the biggest circus I have ever seen.

Oh yeah. It’s amazing. The logistics are amazing. They have full medical teams and so on… There is a good reason why race entry is so much. It is beyond impressive. It is an unbelievable undertaking.

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From your perspective, the ‘Batchens’ (Lisa-Smith and Jay) are heavily involved as USA agents. Lisa-Smith has won the race. Did you speak with them pre race?

Oh for sure. I stayed with them and asked every question possible.

So you came well prepared?

Yes I think so. I also spoke and spent time with 2013 ladies winner, Meghan Hicks, so, between Lisa and Meghan I was well looked after. They understood the race and they could pass that on. You know, the feel of the race. Races have a feel and MDS definitely has a unique feel.

 Great that you should get advice from the other Americans who have won the race?

Oh yeah, we all live relatively close together so it was great.

 Talk me through the 2014 race. Give me some highlights!

Wow, the first couple of days were fun. I didn’t push it hard and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I was kind of having some depression problems prior to MDS. I have major depression anyway and I was kind of not doing too well going into the race. I remember on the first day… I was climbing a dune and I could see nothing but sunshine and happy people. My mood lifted. It was just amazing. The depression broke and it was really instrumental to setting the stage for the race. Day two and three was easy and then I guess it was the long day that I made my move. I had planned beforehand that I would try to win the race that day.

 Yes I remember pre race when we chatted that you said you would make a push that day. You expected Laurence Klein to be faster on the short days but the long day would play into your skill set and 100-mile experience.

I have never had a race go so well. It went perfect. Exactly to plan; easy couple of days and then ramp it up. I’m really happy with how it all went.

Did you get nervous early on? You know, thinking that you were giving time away to Laurence or did you have complete confidence?

I had confidence that I was racing the best way for me and that my strategy would give me my best performance. I had no idea how Laurence would race. I couldn’t control her pace, so I just ran my own race. I didn’t know I would beat Laurence but equally I wasn’t convinced I would loose to her either. After day two one of the French reporters asked me, “At this point do you think that you could possibly beat Laurence?” Big mistake… I was polite but I thought, ‘I will show ya!’

Well it’s a French race and Meghan won in 2013 so I guess they were hoping they would have a French lady back on the podium.

I guess so.

You upset the apple cart. Once the long day was done, did you just consolidate?

Absolutely! I have just completed sixteen years of ultra running. That is a long time. Once I took that lead on the long day, I knew I had no need to push. I could just defend and race smart. I don’t even know how many ultras I have done… but I know I don’t need to destroy myself.

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Great tactic. No extra points or extra prestige for winning by more hours. A great lesson for us all here!

I knew I had races coming up so I wanted to be sensible.

It’s a new year and MDS is not far away… the 30th edition. Runners are now suddenly panicking. The race is just months away. So may questions. What rucksack, what shoes, what sleeping bag, what food, tell us about bivouac and so on. What tips do you have for everyone that worked for you?

I had a very light sleeping bag and that was all I needed. I was warm in that but I do believe 2014 was a warm year. It didn’t really get cold at night, so, you may need to be careful on that. If you are racing and want to be competitive then weight is everything. You must go as light as possible. I didn’t have a sleeping pad, no luxuries, and no creature comforts. But if you want to ‘complete’ it makes sense to have a few comforts but don’t go crazy, remember you have to carry it!

How about food, what strategy did you use. You need a minimum calorie allowance.

Yes, I carried the minimum.

How did you break those calories down? It’s always a big debate; fat v carbs, dried food, bars, liquid, gels and so on. What did you do?

I took advice from Lisa and Meghan and a woman called Susan Hunt who had done loads of research on MDS. I went with what I thought would work for me. That is what you have to do. For me, I did one freeze-dried meal at night, which provided good calories. I rolled out all my food before I went to Morocco and mad it as small as possible and then put it in new bags. I just added water and then put them back in the sun to warm it so I didn’t need a stove. I also took a great deal of calories in peanut oil. It’s oil that lasts (it doesn’t go rancid) and it has loads of calories.

How did you carry that peanut oil?

I decanted it to small plastic bottles. I had over 1000 calories of peanut oil and I added it to my food. It was easy calories. If I go to MDS again I would take more. It worked really well.

So you had 1000+ calories to last the week?

Yes, I wasn’t eating 1000 calories of oil a day but I would definitely take much more for another trip or race like this. It’s great; just add to food and it really works.

 

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What did you do for breakfast?

I had dehydrated potatoes but it didn’t really work for me. I don’t eat a high carb diet anyway so it was a struggle. They tasted great for a couple of days and then I couldn’t stand it. I was throwing my breakfast away, crazy.

Yes, so many struggle with what they thought was safe food and then they can’t eat it. I remember Meghan saying she had a favourite bar that she loved. It was a bar she could eat anytime, so she took them to MDS. After day one (I think) she couldn’t face them! It is funny how your palette changes so quickly when under stress.

Exactly. I’m not sure how you find out what works though? I think variety is good. You need to play safe to a certain extent.

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What would be a breakfast choice now?

I would still take potato but only for a couple of days and then I would take some other freeze-dried option.

On the trail each day, how did you get calories?

I ate dried mango. I loved them and I never got sick of it. They were really great. I also had little packets of ‘Vespa’ for amino acid. That helped too. I knew I would burn my own fat for calories. You can’t race on 2000 calories alone so you will burn fat. I didn’t need to eat all that much really.

Great point! You have already mentioned you don’t eat much carb so am I correct to assume that you have a low carb and low sugar diet. You look to be fat adapted.

Not always but yes, for the last few years I have raced this way. I let myself go a little in the off-season but when I am racing I need to be 100% on my nutrition game. It’s all about balance, running is important but not all consuming.

I guess you prepared for MDS when the New Year started, what was training like. Did you do anything specific so that you knew you would be performant in Morocco?

When I signed up for MDS, I got invited to India to do a run. That wasn’t planned so I had to fit that in. This race was in February. It was a 100km in the heat in a salt desert on the Pakistan border; that was perfect! It was a great jump-start. I had no heat training at all really from that point onwards but I did run in the snow and that worked great. Running in the snow is very similar to the sand and dunes.

Yes, sand and snow very similar feel when running.

Yes, I have been running in the snow this winter and it has reminded me of MDS. Obviously running in the cold isn’t ideal but snow-running technique was brilliant. I have however always run well in the heat. My Western States performances confirm this.

What about back-to-back runs, speed sessions and running with a pack?

I didn’t run with a pack at all… I had one of those WAA packs and they are incredible. It fit me like a glove. I recommend people train with a pack but I do ski mountaineering and I always use a pack so I don’t need to adapt. I am 100% used to it.

I mentioned speed work and back-to-back runs. I guess you have been running so long that running a multi day is second nature?

Yes. I did no back-to-backs or speed. I have been doing this running thing for years.

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You have an incredible running history. You’ve won Western States and UTMB and so many other incredible races, so where does MDS fit. Is it one of the best?

Oh yes. It’s up there. It was a surprise for me. I didn’t expect it to be as fun and as challenging as it was. As I mentioned, I was a little depressed pre race and so therefore I was a little down. But the race kicked me out of that and I had a ball. I’d love to go back some day. It was a wonderful learning curve too. I met so many amazing people. It holds a special place in my heart.

I agree, MDS is quite special; I feel fortunate to witness the race from the outside looking in. Documenting each participant’s journey through images and words. Final question; how difficult do you rate MDS?

It’s no easy race if you are pushing at the front. But it’s as easy or as hard as you want it to be. The cut offs are generous and that provides so many with an opportunity, which is great. But if you are looking to be at the front, you have to be fit, dedicated and focused. It’s not the hardest race I have done but it is also not the easiest.

*****

Nikki will race The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica (HERE) in February and will hopefully peak for the 2015 Western States.

Nikki has a new film about to be released called FINDING TRACTION that documents her journey on the Long Trail (see Here)

If you require any photography, words or articles re Marathon des Sables please email using the contact form below.

 

 

Marathon des Sables 2014 #MDS2014 Images – Stage 5

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The 29th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables.

STAGE 5 RICH MERZOUG / IGADOUN TARHBALT 42.2KM

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Marathon des Sables 2014 #MDS2014 Images – Stage 2

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The 29th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables.

STAGE 2 ERG ZNAIGUI / OUED MOUNGARF 41KM

MDS2014 Stg2

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No reproduction or sharing please.