Sue Ding and the 2018 Marathon des Sables #MDS2018

Marathon des Sables is an iconic race. For over 30-years it has been the leading example of multi-day racing all over the world. It has often been copied, but never bettered. In its incredible history, runners from all over the world have toed the line for the experience of a lifetime.

In 2018, for the first time ever, a Malaysian lady toed the line in the hope to be the first Malaysian lady ever to complete the race.

Sue Ding has been living in the UK for over 20-years. She came from Kuala Lumpur to study law at Liverpool University and then stayed successfully building her own legal practice in London. She is an entrepreneur, business woman and is extremely successful.

Running became an escape from the everyday stress of work. Like many, Sue built to the marathon distance and has successfully completed London, Berlin and Tokyo. But Marathon des Sables was something very different – a new challenge.

I first met Sue when she joined our Lanzarote Training Camp (HERE) in January 2018.

I was fortunate to follow her journey as she prepared for the 2018 MDS, both in training and then day-by-day throughout the race.

It turned out to be quite a story and shows that the mental aspect of ultra-running is often far more important than fitness.

You can listen to a full and in-depth interview with Sue on Talk Ultra podcast HERE

What initially made you decide to take part in MDS?

I had heard about the Marathon des Sables from friends and I had seen images on Instagram. It enticed me, I was looking for a new challenge and although I thought the race was beyond my ability I took the plunge and entered. I told nobody for two weeks as I couldn’t decide if I had done the right thing. When I did finally disclose my intentions, some friends and relatives were negative saying I was crazy and that I couldn’t do it… I needed no better motivation to prove them wrong!

You have run several marathons such as London and Tokyo. How does the MDS compare?

Other than running or walking, there is no comparison really. A road marathon is a challenge but it is safe, you have aid stations, there is always help at hand. MDS is just so much more than just running. It brings in elements of survival, it plays games with your mind and it pushes the individual to depths that they maybe never even realised they could reach.  MDS is truly a transformational experience and although I will always remember my first road marathon, I now think, ‘it is only a marathon!’

What was your training and preparation like for the MDS? What are the differences in comparison to a road marathon?

In all honesty, marathon training is actually good preparation for MDS as the individual stages are marathon distance or below. Of course, the exception is the ‘long day’ which in 2018 was 86.4km (around 53 miles, so two marathons). Marathon training works well but of course one needs to build up strength and stamina for the challenge ahead. Therefore, most people allow 12-months to get ready for MDS. Time on feet is important and also including some specific ‘training’ races that provide a similar scenario to MDS. For example. Several races in the UK last 2 or 3 days therefore providing a mini MDS scenario.

I also signed up for a specific desert training camp in Lanzarote, 3-months ahead of the race. This proved to be essential as I met other competitions, we trained on terrain specific and comparable to Morocco and I was able to test equipment. We even spent one night sleeping inside a volcano to simulate camp conditions in the Sahara.

Training Camp information HERE 

Finally, two points. 1. Many runners think they will run MDS – the reality is that they will not! Walking is an essential and integral part of completing MDS for most participants and I can’t stress enough to walk, walk and walk in training. 2. Prepare the mind for the challenge. If you get the mind in the right place it will take the body to the line.

What was the biggest challenges out in the Sahara?

The challenges change daily. For example, just starting on day 1 seemed like a huge challenge as I was so anxious and nervous.

Then on day 2 I was silly and neglected taking my salt tablets, this impacted on my hydration and caused me to be dizzy. It was touch and go but I rallied and achieved the finish line.

That night we were hit by a sand storm which wiped out our tent and reduced sleep to a minimum. So, as you see, the challenges change daily, by the hour or even by the minute at times. This is what makes MDS so special, it is how you adapt both physically and more importantly, mentally at times.

How did you cope with the challenges, did you feel prepared?

One can only prepare so much. I really dedicated myself to the task and prepared methodically for the challenge. But after Tokyo Marathon I picked up a stress fracture.

Photo ©sueding

This resulted in no running for three weeks and then a slow return to training. Ironically, my final preparation to MDS was terrible and that worried me. Friends were always positive, they told me, ‘You can do this!’ I trusted them and despite my reservations, I achieved the start line.

Equipment is equipment but it is essential. I took advice from the training camp and honed my equipment for my needs. I made last minute changes to the pack I would use and I also changed my down jacket. It all worked well. During the race you must be flexible and adapt to conditions – tiredness, dehydration, sore legs, snoring tent mates, sharing a space with 7 others – you can’t really prepare for that, it is this that makes MDS such an experience, it is a journey into the unknown.

What did you enjoy most about the whole experience?

I was so anxious before the race but I feel like I blossomed as the race progressed. I embraced the challenge and got the race done – I did that and nobody can take that away. But my tent mates, Tent 95 were incredible and they will be friends for life. You were also at the race and shared my journey, that was so special and something that I will never forget. The race is a life changer, I was told this before I went to Morocco, it’s only now, afterwards, that I realised that this is true.

What were some of the most memorable or unforgettable moments for you, explain why?

1. Tent 95 – Gary, Daniel, Mark, James, Brian, Taka and Denise were just the best. We laughed, we shared our stories in the morning and the evening and we rallied and encouraged each other. We all finished – what an experience!

2. On the long day it was dark, I was walking through large sand dunes and I was listening to Craig Armstrong music, I looked up to the sky and saw thousands of stars… I was lost in my mind and thoughts and it was truly magical.

3. I had low points throughout the race, times of despair and worries if I could push on through. They were my lowest moments but each time they became the most memorable – you would always arrive, just at the right time.

4. I got some really bad blisters which needed medical treatment and caused great pain – I had to continue on, ignore the negative and fight each day to achieve my goals.

How did you manage the conditions – heat, survival, rationed food etc?

In all honesty, I was expecting the worst and the reality was not as bad. We had cold nights, sand storms and hot days but I managed. I wore the same clothes for ten days with no showering or proper washing, it was unpleasant but I survived. I craved fresh food and had to eat dehydrated food.

I wanted so much a different drink other than water but water is the only thing available. I keep saying it but this is MDS. It is meant to test you mentally as much as physically and you need to embrace it. If you fight it, your week will be miserable. It’s best to laugh and soak up the experience.

A Coke after the long day was so magical – simple pleasure! Going to the toilet is also somewhat an experience… you will need to use your imagination for that one!

What went through your mind during the race?

Ha! What didn’t I think about…? I put the world to rights, thought about my past, thought about my future. I concentrated on one foot ahead of the other and I escaped with music.

You have a great deal of time to think and I think this is why, for many, MDS has such an impact. You suddenly realise what is important. I have realised it. Experiences and memories are far greater than things and possessions – the Sahara and the MDS made me feel truly alive, pushed me to the limit and beyond.

Did you doubt yourself at any time, elaborate?

I had huge doubts and anxiety before the race but did as much specific preparation as possible and I listened to you and Elisabet Barnes,  you both told me I could do it. I was so nervous on day 1 and of course on day 2 I was extremely worried.

However, as the race progressed the stronger mentally I became. I was more tired, my body ached, my feet hurt but my mind was strong, there was no way I was giving up or not finishing – I had to prove all the doubters before the race wrong.

One lady had said, ‘If you finish the race, I will eat my hat!’ Guess what? I bought a hat in Morocco after the race…

What was crossing the finish line like?

On the marathon stage I had a moment early on when I cried but I got over it and pushed on despite the pain.

The miles ticked by and then as the finish line came, you were waiting as were all my tent 95 teammates.

I had no more tears left, just smiles and gratitude. I was flying the Malaysian flag, I kissed my cross which was around my neck and I gave thanks for the opportunity to complete a truly magical, life changing journey.

What are the biggest takeaways from the race?

We are too protected, too comfortable in the world and we shy away from tough times. A little tough, some challenge, some hardship and some pain makes you realise you are truly alive.

I went to so many low points during the race and overcame them, I made new friends and I triumphed over arguably the toughest challenge I have ever undertaken.

I now feel invincible, I feel alive!

If you did MDS again, what would you change in preparation and why?

Well, I would definitely try not to get a stress fracture just 8 weeks before the race. In general though, I feel everything clicked into place. I would make sure my shoes did not give me blisters, I made a mistake there going with a shoe size too large.

What advice would you give to future MDS runners?

Prepare the mind and the legs and lungs will followI also had a ‘special’ bag with me ‘Not Gonna Happen’ it contained daily inspiration to keep me going… It was invaluable.

MDS is described as the toughest race on earth, on a scale of 1-10 give it a rating and explain why?

Tough question as I have done nothing like it to compare, so, for me it would be a 8, or 9. But the daily cut off times are generous and it is possible to complete the race walking, so, like I said previously, get the mind right and anything is possible.

Certainly, no change of clothes, carrying everything one needs on ones back and having rationed food and water takes things to another level and therefore it’s a combination of all those elements that makes the race so tough.

MDS is not cheap, can you elaborate on how much the whole process cost?

I don’t really want to think about it… The race costs so much more than just the entry fee. For example, entry fee, flights and hotels around £4000. But I started to prepare 12 moths in advance. I did training races, I did the Lanzarote training camp, I purchased all my equipment and then changed my equipment. I added some extras such as staying in Morocco afterwards. I have not tallied up the total cost but it would easily be £10.000.

You are the first Malaysian woman to complete the race, how does that make you feel?

I am proud to be Malaysian and cross the line flying the flag – it is a real honour.

You ran for charities, Make A Wish Malaysia and Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better, how much did you raise?

The total goes up daily as donations come in, but currently it is over £25.000.

“We all have our stories, we got together, encouraged each other, were there for each other, we went on a 250km MDS journey together… We are friends forever Tent 95! I was also privileged to have the additional support of a truly dear friend who documented our journey. Friendship and love completed the journey.”

#suckitupprincess

Check out Sue in MARIE CLAIRE – http://marieclaire.com.my/lifestyle/features/marie-claire-amazing-women-2018/5/

Episode 157 – Sue Ding, Lucy Bartholomew and Kris Brown

Episode 157 of Talk Ultra is a full and packed show as Kurt Decker brings you a Western States special chatting with Kris Brown and Lucy Bartholomew. Ian brings you a full and in-depth chat with Sue Ding who was the first Malaysian woman ever, to complete the Marathon des Sables.
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NEWS
 
LIVIGNO SKYMARTHON read HERE
 
The day was all about Petter Engdahl, the young skier/ runner dominated the race from the front and although he had some close competition at times, he blitzed the course with an incredible performance finishing in 3:33:26 ahead of Pascal Egli 3:38:01 and David Sinclair from the USA, a surprise 3rd in 3:39:16.
The ladies’ race was a close run epic with Laura Orgue and Sheila Aviles trading blows throughout. It was touch and go who would win, eventually it was Laura 4:10:11 to 4:10:45. Elisa Desco, wife of RD Marco De Gasperi, made a great return to racing after her 2nd child to take 3rd. in 4:19:45.
 
MONTE ROSA SKYMARATHON preview HERE
 
So now, 2018, 25-years in the making, the sport’s founders present an exclusive new event, this time in teams of two, roped together to race in true skyrunning style across moraine, snow fields and glaciers for 35 kilometres with an astonishing 7,000m ascent and descent.
*****
 
00:19:16 Interview with SUE DING
 
*****
BROKEN ARROW 52km
 
Jimmy Elam won in 4:54 ahead of Nick Elson and Jeff Mogavero 5:05 and 5:10.
Megan Kimmel dominated the ladies’ race in 5:30 ahead of Rea Kolbl and Rory Bosio, 5:48 and 5:52.
 
MOUNT WASHINGTON RR
 
Cesare Maestri in 1:00:53 the first European to win the race. For the ladies’ Kim Dobson in 1:11:42
 
MOZART 100K
 
Florian Grasel pipped the UK’s Damian Hall, 10:29 to 10:29 and Alexander Rabensteiner 3rd 10:32.
Martina Trimmel, Sarah Morwood and Veronica Limberger went 1,2,3 in 11:57, 12:12 and 12:21.
 
LAVAREDO has a packed field:
 
Fulvio Dapit, Pau Capell, Hayden Hawks, Scott Hawker, Michel Lanne, Stephan Hugenschmidt, Diego Pazos, Tim Tollefson and more…
 
Fernanda Maciel, Nuria Picas, Beth Pascall, Keely Henninger, Clare Gallagher, Mira Rai. Kelly Wolf and more…
*****
 
01:40:00 Interview with KRIS BROWN
 
*****
02:04:48 Interview with LUCY BARTHOLOMEW
 
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UP and COMING RACES
 
Check out the world ultra calendar on https://marathons.ahotu.comyou can do a specific search for the ultra calendar HERE
 
Ultramarthon calendar HERE
 
Race calendar for JULY 2018 HERE
 
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02:27:26 CLOSE
 
02:29:36
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Marathon des Sables 2018 #MDS2018 – Stage 2

 

Today, the king and queen of the desert set out their stalls! For Rachid El Morabity, it was a day of showing the rest of the field a clean pair of heals as he slowly but surely pulled away from the field finally finishing almost 10-minutes ahead of his brother and day 1 champion, Mohamed.

For the ladies, 2016 champion Natalia Sedykh was no doubt frustrated and angry after winning stage 1 only to be penalised 1-hour for failing to have a whistle at a kit check post day-1. A penalty was applied and now Natalia must run and race hard each day to make up the time. Today, she gained over 8-minutes on the ladies overall leader, American, Magdalena Boulet.

Day 2 was a tough day for all with relentless soft-sand which made moving tiresome. Throw in a stony and steep climb up Jebel El Otfal and then the fast and sandy descent to the final CP, and it was only really the final 4km’s that was stony, flat and faster.

Day 1 had no drop outs but day 2 was taking it’s toll. Some runners were fighting demons to get to the line but there was some real grit and MDS spirit out there as participants dug in to achieve a lifetime goal.

At the front of the race Mohamed El Morabity trailed his brother to finish 2nd just 45-seconds ahead of Abdelkader El Mouaziz. Aziz Ell Akad finished 4th and Merile Robert 5th.

 The USA’s Magdalena Boulet once again placed 2nd on the stage and looks at home in the sand, Bouchra Eriksen was 3rd ahead of the UK’s Gemma Game and Anna Marie Watson in 5th.

 

  1. Rachid El Morabity 3:04:01
  2. Mohamed El Morabity 3:14:36
  3. Abdelkader El Mouaziz 3:15:16
  4. Aziz El Akad 3:18:34
  5. Merile Robert 3:18:34

 

  1. Natali Sedykh 3:56:08
  2. Magdalena Boulet 4:04:48
  3. Bouchra Eriksen 4:16:08
  4. Gemma Game 4:19:48
  5. Anna Marie Watson 4:19:48

Tomorrow’s stage is 31.6km’s and starts at 0830 with a 10h 30m cut 0ff.

Full results HERE

 

Marathon des Sables 2018 Race Preview #MDS #MDS2018

It is here, the 33rd edition of the iconic Marathon des Sables – 250km, 6 stages over 7 days and over 1000 runners from over 50 countries battling the sand and the heat of the Sahara in a self-sufficient manner.

The MDS is the granddaddy of multi-day racing and with its long history it is still the race that all other multi-day races base themselves on. Patrick Bauer’s vision is as strong today as it was back in the 80’s.

Bauer is not just a race director, he is a passionate man who loves Morocco and the people. The MDS ‘is’ Bauer and without him it is like the band QUEEN touring without Freddie Mercury center stage.

The stats for the race are impressive. They always are.

In 2018, as per usual. The 40-49 age group is the most popular. Yes, it is the mid-life crisis group with 349 males and 72 females toeing the line. The 30-39 group is next with 225 males and 58 females. Surprisingly, the 50-59 group comes in 3rd with a split of 177 to 37 male and female respectively.

The youngest runner is 17yr old Moroccan Ali Zaghloul who will be supported along the route by his father, Mehdi. The youngest female is Sally Wellock from the UK aged 23yrs.

France takes top honors for the oldest male, Jean-Claude Raymond aged 80yrs will look to complete his 12th MDS and Philippa Lloyd from the UK is the oldest female aged 69yrs.

I have to say, I have a soft spot for my good friend Didier Benguigui, this will be his 14th MDS and he is blind. I have seen him over the years overcome great adversity to achieve his medal. He is a true inspiration, he will make you cry – a legend of the MDS!

For those who love stats, believe it or not, the 2018 MDS will be Christian Ginter’s 31st MDS – yes folks, 31st edition – incredible!

ELITE RUNNERS

Female:

Natalia Sedykh returns to the MDS after winning the race in 2016 with a blistering performance. For me, she is the head and shoulders favourite for the 2018 race. She is currently in excellent shape and at the end of 2017 she won the Oman Desert Marathon.

Andrea Huser is a UTWT specialist and one of the strongest runners in the world with a string of incredible performances, be that UTMB or Transgrancanaria. She hasn’t run in the desert before and multi-day racing is a fickle beast. I see her doing well but I don’t think she will have the pace of Natalia.

One lady who will have the pace to take on the Russian is Magdalena Boulet. Magda has won Western States and placed 5th at UTMB. However, like Andrea, she is a desert Virgin and that will be her achilles heel for victory.

Anna Marie Watson can run in the sand, she won Half MDS Fuerteventura and recently placed top-10 at UTMB. She is likely to be a real contender for the podium this year and has trained specifically for the challenge ahead.

Gemma Game was 4th at MDS in 2015 and would have been a likely challenger for Natalia but has decided to ease of the gas for the 2018 race and she plans to have as much fun as possible.

Jax Mariash is a multi-day specialist who will bring her Gobi, Atacama and Namibia experience to Morocco. The question will be, does she have the speed to match the experience?

Also keep an eye on Bouchra Eriksen, Amelia Griffith and Beth Kay.

Male:

Rachid El Morabity is the desert king and you’d be a fool to bet against him. He won Morocco and Peru in 2017 and knows the sand like the back of his hand. He is an amazing runner with a wealth of experience and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

Mohamed El Morabity is Rachid’s younger brother and if Rachid was not running, Mohamed would have the nod for victory. He was 2nd in 2017, and he also won the 100km Ultra Mirage in Tunisia.

Abdelkader El Mouaziz won the London Marathon in 1999 and 2001. He has a marathon PB of 2:06:43 – ouch! He is a MDS vet having placed 2nd twice and 7th.

Aziz El Akad is a consistent Moroccan who has finished in the top 5 at MDS on 7 occasions – that speaks volumes!

Gediminas Grinius was new to sand and multi-day at MDS Peru at the end of 2017. The race didn’t start well for him, but he eased into the race and finished strong. I am sure Peru was invaluable for him to fine tweak his prep for MDS Morocco. I expect to see his kit and food fine-tuned and it to be lighter. He is a formidable performer, strong as on ox and never gives in.

Alejandro Fraguela placed 3rd at Half MDS Fuerteventura and that will set him up well for a strong and consistent run in Morocco.

Arnaud Lejeune is maybe the great French hope. However, his lack of desert experience will be against him despite great results at UTMF and a top-10 at UTMB.

Vajin Armstrong from New Zealand is a strong runner and fierce competitor, he’s a sand/ Sahara virgin and has a huge learning curve ahead of him.

Majell Backausen from Australia is also a strong competitor and like Armstrong will have his first desert experience in Morocco.

*Remigio Huaman is on my start list but I am not sure if he will race? If he does, he is a podium and most definitely, top 5 contender.

THE 2018 RACE

Speculation is always rife about the route the race will take and certainly looks like from the very brief description below that the 2018 edition of the race will be similar to 2017. I therefore predict a finish in Merzouga dunes.

For perspective, the 250km distance can be covered at 3km ph with an approximate 83hrs finish time. By contrast, the fleet of foot can cover the distance at 14km ph with a finish time of 18hrs.

For the record, 2017 distances per stage were as follows:

  • Day 1 30.3km
  • Day 2 39km
  • Day 3 31.6km
  • Day 4/5 86.2km
  • Day 6 42.2km
  • Day 7 Charity stage

I think it’s fair to say that the 2018 edition will have similar distances and therefore the key days will be day 2 and of course the long day!

2018 ROUTE OVERVIEW

Stage 1 – The terrain will be flat with a great deal of sand, small dunes and a small climb to the finish.

Stage 2 – Is a longer stage, with a great deal of sand. It will include a climb through a gorge and then a steep descent.

Stage 3 – Starts with a climb followed by small climbs one of which is very steep with a technical passage. This stage includes the first ‘real’ dunes of the 33rd MDS.

Stage 4 – The dreaded long day! It’s going to be a tough day with a great deal of sand. It includes two passages through small gorges, a climb up a djebel, a rollercoaster through sand and a technical descent. It’s a day about managing oneself and saving something for the night.

Stage 5 – Is the classic marathon stage with dunes to kick off the day. It’s a day of no major difficulty and it includes sandy oued and small sparse dunes. However, be prepared for the long plateau towards the end.

Stage 6 – Obligatory charity stage and buses will wait for the finishers to return them to civilization.

KEY STATS

Needless to say, key elements of the MDS are the distance, heat, sand and self-sufficiency. The combination of all these elements makes the race a tough one! For safety, each runner is tracked and monitored with a SPOT tracker.

Each runner must carry all the food they require for the journey and the race specifies a minimum per day. This must be adhered to; however, a runner can carry as much food as they like. The downside is the weight. Therefore, the race is all about balancing calories to weight.

The runner must also carry a sleeping bag, sleeping mat (if they wish), any luxuries and they must decide if they carry a change of clothes – many don’t!

Mandatory kit is specified by the MDS organization and this must be carried. It includes:

  • SPOT tracker
  • Knife
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Lighter
  • Venom pump
  • Antiseptic
  • Sleeping bag
  • Survival blanket
  • Mirror
  • Salt tablets
  • Light sticks
  • Headlamp

In addition to the above, other items are specified and failure to carry them will incur a time penalty.

The only items provided by the race for each runner is water (rationed) and a bivouac (tent) that holds 8 people.

SCHEDULE REMINDER

April 6 – arrive Morocco

April 7 – Inspection day

April 8 – race start, stage 1

April 9 – stage 2

April 10 – stage 3

April 11 & 12 – stage 4

April 13 – stage 5

April 14 – charity stage

April 15 – free day

April 16 – journey home

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Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 4

No pain, no gain – well, that is what they say! Today, was ‘pain’ morning at the Lanzarote Training Camp when all the participants did at least 6 reps of a volcano.

It’s a challenging morning and the vertical gain is designed to replicate the largest jebel that has appeared in all the latest editions of Marathon des Sables.

Steep with lose gravel for the climb and the descent is a mixture of stone, lose rocks and sharp lava – a gravel road section allows some recovery before a repeating.

It was a hot day and although the session was tough – everyone loved it!

A break for lunch and then Elisabet Barnes did a practical workshop of foot care. It’s an essential session that prepares everyone with all the relevant skills to allow them the flexibility to be self-sufficient when racing. Elisabet also showed and demonstrated foot taping as a preventive measure against blisters.

At 6pm, the day concluded with an easy 5 or 10km shake-outrun to loosen the legs!

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

The Namibia Crossing is HERE! A new journey for 2019.

The 2019 NAMIBIA CROSSING has been confirmed.

A new name, a new adventure! The NAMIBIA CROSSING is a 200km, five-day foot race from South Africa to Namibia through the ancient arid landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The race was previously known as the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun, the new name reflects the ‘crossing’ of the Orange River and the doorway to Namibia.

From the crystal fields of Sendelingsdrif in South Africa to the infamous giant boulders of Tatasberg deep in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park; this unparalleled journey then crosses the Orange River into Namibia and the wild lands of the Fish River Canyon. This is the running experience of a lifetime; this is the this is the Namibia Crossing.

Add the dates to your diary, June 16th to June 22nd 2019

(additional travel dates required)

Five days, 44km + 33km + 40km + 49km + 26km = 200km.

Official race website HERE

UK and EUROPEAN entries via Steve Diederich HERE

Overlaying the Orange River border line between South Africa and Namibia is a 5,920km2 arid mountain desert wilderness unlike any other in the world. This area is a jointly managed conservation initiative called the /Ai /Ais- Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, that incorporates the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa and the Fish River Canyon National Park in Namibia.

What this area contains is an ancient geological and natural landscape that is quite simply unparalleled on Earth. Not only is this is the oldest mountain desert in the world, it’s the richest one – holding more than a third of the worlds known succulent species. In fact, it’s second only to the Cape Floral Kingdom in terms of botanical diversity.

Throw in the largest canyon in Africa and some uniquely desert-adapted African wildlife and you have yourself a wilderness running experience that is quite simply unmatched.

The Race in Summary:

Day 1:

This 42km day takes us over the crystal fields, past the ‘Vyf Susters’ and up ‘Helskloof’ pass, to break through the ‘Numeesberge’ and into the heart of the Richtersveld and our overnight camp at De Koei.

Day 2: 

This 33kms day takes us into the magnificent valley between the Tswayisberg and Vandersterrberg mountain ranges to a seldom visited ‘Armmanshoek’ (Poor-mans- corner). We overnight at Hakkiesdoring.

Day 3: 

One of the most iconic days on the Namibia Crossing – this 39km day takes us across
the Springbok Vlakte, over the Tatasberg mountain and down to the Orange River.

Relaxing and washing off in the Orange River at De Hoop camp rounds out a thoroughly rewarding day.

Day 4:

The Namibia Crossing – A short boat trip across the Orange will drop you on Namibian soil and to the start of the longest day, at 50kms. This is a tough day but as your reward, you can relax in the hot hot springs right in the riverbed, where you will be staying the night. The final briefing will precede dinner in this open-air, canyon camp.

Day 5: 

The final 25km takes on a final few bends of the Fish River, before we duck out, up Zebra valley, and follow game trails through the rolling foothills. There is a sting in the tail, but the view is worth it! A short elevator drop gets us to the finish at the Hot Springs Resort.

This is a fully supported running experience in a remote wilderness area which includes six nights fully-catered, individual tented accommodation, luxury bus transport from Cape Town to the reception venue and return, exquisite camp cuisine and a fully-stocked, remote camp setup. This also includes all entrance and permit fees, transport of personal items during the event and logistical & medical support throughout.

Embrace the journey of a lifetime!

South African entries and info:

Tamaryn Middleton – tamaryn@wildrunner.co.za or +27 21 789 0318. Otherwise try her mobile phone: +27 72 373 5081.

UK and European entries use the contact form below.

Marathon des Sables PERU 2017 #MDSPeru – RACE DAY 4

Stage 4 of MDS Peru was the eagerly anticipated long-day, it was billed as a stunning stage and it didn’t disappoint, however, with beauty came difficulty and many said how hard it was. The thought of views of the Pacific Ocean pulled the runners through to the 51km mark and then from here, the sea was by their side all the way to the finish line.

Erik Clavery dictated the race early on but by Cp2 he was caught and it was Also Ramirez from Peru who forged a fast pace looking for a top-3 finish. Fellow Peruvian, Remigio Huaman, was never going to let a countryman run away from him and the duo ran at the head of the race before Rachid El Morabity budged the gap. It was interesting to see the dynamics at the front of the race, it would appear, that El Morabity was not having a ‘normal’ dominating day and this was reflected in him crossing the line with Huaman, hand-in-hand, in 7:10:24. Ramirez held on for 3rd just 7-minutes later with Gediminas Grinius and Clavery placing 4th and 5th.

The ladies race once again had a very similar format as all the previous days with Nathalie Mauclair dictating from the front and never looking back. She is, with all due respect to the other ladies, in a race on her own! She crossed the line in 8:08:45 and Melanie Rousset finished 2nd once again over 1-hour later in 9:19:10. Peruvian, Rocio Carrion, was as consistent as ever placing 3rd in 10:01.

The long-day will be remembered for the stunning landscape and the variety. Beautiful white dunes, white stone flats, amazing valleys flanked by mountains and then the stunning sandy drop to the Pacific and bivouac 4 next to the sea.

 

  1. Remigio Huaman 7:10:24
  2. Rachid El Morabity 7:10:25
  3. Aldo Ramirez 7:17:21

 

  1. Nathalie Mauclair 8:08:45
  2. Melanie Rousset 9:19:10
  3. Rocio Carrion 10:01:15

 

GC

 

  1. Rachid El Morabity 17:09:53
  2. Remigio Huaman 17:47:54
  3. Aldo Ramirez 18:49:51

 

  1. Nathalie Mauclair 20:23:35
  2. Melanie Rousset 23:15:44
  3. Rocio Carrion 25:46:50

 

Stage 5 of MDS Peru is as the Moroccan brother, the marathon stage. Staring on the beach in Barlovento, the runners will cover 42.2km to Mendieta hugging the coastline of the Pacific. It will be a stunning stage!

Marathon des Sables PERU #MDSPeru 2017 Race Preview

For over thirty-years, Marathon des Sables has paved the way for multi-day races worldwide. The self-sufficient format were runners carry all they need for 6-days of running has been copied time and time again but never bettered.

Now, in 2017, we see the long established ‘MDS’ brand expands its format to Peru for the inaugural, Marathon des Sables PERU.

 

It is an exciting time – a new continent and a new land of adventure between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes.

MDS needs no introduction, for 32-years the race format has grown and grown and now it is considered as the Godfather of multi-day running. No brand stands still and as the world becomes smaller, MDS becomes larger. In September, it launched its first ‘half’ edition race in Fuerteventura, Half MDS Fuerteventura was designed as a stepping stone to the current two big brothers – Morocco and Peru. 

Morocco is well established, but Peru is a new story. One that will be written in the coming weeks as runners from all over the world travel long-haul to Lima and a new, exciting journey.

The new race will have the core values of what made the Moroccan journey so loved.

250km’s, 500 runners, the ICA desert and an opportunity to discover the most beautiful of South America. Huge dunes, sandy plateau, a new day begins for MDS, a new day in PERU.

The format of MDS Peru will be the same as Morocco, current schedule will be as follows 

Day 1 – Arrival

Day 2 – Technical and Medical check

Day 3 – Race start, 35km

Day 4 – Race day 2, 40km

Day 5 – Race day 3, 35km

Day 6 – Race day 4, 72km

Day 7 – Race day 5, 42km

Day 8 – Race day 6, 20km

Day 9 – Awards

Day 10 – Relax and Expo

Day 11 – Return home

Over 31 nationalities will be represented with France having the biggest contingent, the UK follows and surprisingly, Japan is the 3rd largest contingent. It comes as no surprise that that most popular age is between 40-50 yrs.’, typical in multi-day racing.

 Taking place at sea level, the race will follow the exact protocols of Marathon des Sables Morocco, 6-days, full self-sufficiency with only a shelter and rationed water provided. 

TOP RUNNERS

Coming late in the year, it is difficult for runners to prepare and focus, however, MDS Peru has a stellar line-up of world-class male and female runners, headed up by MDS legend, Rachid El Morabity who has won MDS Morocco five times – he will take some beating! For the ladies, Nathalie Mauclair is a legend in ultra-trail races and has placed 2nd at MDS Morocco in 2017 and 2016.

MEN 

The men’s race is arguably the most exciting with UTWT Champion Gediminas Grinius toeing the line. It has been a long season for the Lithuanian but he is a fierce competitor. However, this will be a new adventure for him and Peru’s high dunes will no doubt be a challenge.

The one to watch is Remigio Huaman. He is Peruvian and will without doubt be more than motivated to win on home soil. He placed 5th in Morocco earlier this year and he recently won in Fuerteventura. I don’t think he can beat Rachid but he is my 2nd place and I hope he has ‘his’ day with a possibility of overall victory. 

South Africa’s Iain Don Wauchope is a really exciting addition to the race. I know Iain well and he is a good friend. I have seen him blaze a trail in his home in South Africa and at Costa Rica’s The Coastal Challenge he has been an unstoppable force. Peru will be exciting and I can’t wait to see him race.

Julien Chorier can never be ruled out of any race, a superb runner who has been a great ambassador for the sport. Peru, its dunes and multi-day racing is going to push Julien to a new place – I wonder how he will perform?

Erik Clavery placed 5th at MDS Morocco in 2016 and recently won the Grand to Grand multi-day in the USA. He is France’s big hope for MDS Peru, can he, do it? 

Yeray Duran recently had a tough few days at Half MDS Fuerteventura and ended up on an IV for dehydration. Lesson learnt I am sure. He will come to Peru with a new respect for heat and the multi-day format.

LADIES

Nathalie Mauclair is the stand-out hot prospect for victory but Ireland’s Ruthan Sheahan may be able to push the French lady? Ruthan ran 229km in 24-hours, a great run. But her past experience at multi-day was placing 23rd at MDS Morocco in 2012.

Peru has three ladies running, Elba Rocio Carrion Conde, Valerie Nossar and Lorena Pilar Ricalde Garcia. It is difficult to say how these ladies will perform, their collective past experience is over single-stage races over distances from 50-100km. But the home advantage can never be underestimated, it will be interesting to see this race unfold.

Claudi Forster placed 12th at MDS Morocco earlier this year and Mexico’s Nahlia Hernandez San Juan has placed 9th at MDS, run Badwater, Gobi March and so on – these two ladies arguably may be the prime contenders for the podium.

****** 

Runners and staff depart for Lima on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th November. Follow the stories and action as it unfolds on this website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media. It is going to be an epic first edition of Marathon des Sables Peru.

LIVE TRACKING HERE

The event can be followed via iancorless.com and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography and also on Twitter @talkultra – daily updates, summary, results and images will be posted as soon as comms allow. Each runner will also have a SPOT tacker (FindMeSpot.com). 

Time difference to Europe is 5 hours. 

Episode 144 – Darcy Piceu and Anna-Marie Watson

Episode 144 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Darcy Piceu after her incredible FKT on the John Muir Trail. We also speak with Anna-Marie Watson who this year placed 7th at UTMB and just recently won the first edition of the Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura. Speedgoat is back co-hosting!
*****
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*****
00:10:24 NEWS
Bear 100
Jeff Browning does it again winning another 100 – very soon after UTMB too. Lars Kjerengtroen 2nd and Timmy Olson 3rd – 18:28, 19:28 and 19:36 respectively.
Hannah Green beat Amie Blackham and Kelsey Bingham – 24:22, 25:50 and 25:54 respectively.
*****
Spartathlon
The legendary 153 mile race was won by Aleksandr Sorokin in 22:04. He set a relentless pace from the off and his time ranks as one of the all time best, of course, Yiannis Kouros holds the fastest times. Radek Brunner was 2nd and Nikolaos Sideridis 3rd, 22:49 and 22:58.
Patrycja Berenzowska won the ladies’ race in 24:47 setting a new CR! Zsuzanna Maraz and Aleksandra Niwinska was 2nd/ 3rd in 25:43 and 26:28.
*****
Ultra Gobi 
The UK’s Dan Lawson blew the race and CR apart with 2 days and 22 hours for 248 miles. Incredible. Dan has also placed 2nd at Spartathlon.
*****
Kilimanjaro FKT
Fernanda Maciel set a new FKT 0f 7:08 for Africa’s highest peak climbing 5895m. Her round trip time was 10:06. Previous best by Anne-Marie Flammersfield was 8:32 and 12:58. Kilian Jornet did hold this record for the outright fastest time but this was bettered by Karl Egloff setting 4:56 and 6:42 for the round trip.
*****
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim FKT
FKT’s are just getting more popular… now Tim Freriks who won Transvulcania earlier this year has set a new bar of 2:39:38 beating Jim Walmsley’s time (Jim helped Tim for this FKT and are friends) – Walmsley still holds the R2R2R record.
*****
John Muir Trail FKT
Hardrock 100 specialist Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa) covered the 223 miles in California to set a new FKT of 3-days, 8-hours beating the previous CR by 12-hours. Notably this was very close the the men’s record and later this year Francois D’Haene will attempt this FKT.
*****
00:31:09 Interview with DARCY PICEU
*****
Ultra Pirineu
Pablo Villa and Maite Maiora produced solid performances at this classic race amongst world class fields. Full results HERE. In the marathon race, Kilian Jornet obliterated the old CR in a super close race and Ruth Croft won for the ladies.
****
Half MDS Fuerteventura
MDS have spread their wings and introduced a new 120km, half-distance event on the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries. It was won by Peru’s Remigio Huaman and the UK’s Anna-Marie Watson. Full report, results and story HERE.
****
01:35:24 Interview with ANNA-MARIE WATSON
*****
UP & COMING RACES

Andorra

Els 2900 Alpine Run | 70 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Argentina

La Pachamama 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
La Pachamama 53 km | 53 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
La Pachamama 73 km | 73 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Australia

New South Wales

Hume & Hovell 100 | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Hume & Hovell 50 | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Washpool/Gibraltar World Heritage Trails 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Victoria

Great Ocean Walk 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Bahamas

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Canada

Nova Scotia

Valley Harvest Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Quebec

Bromont Ultra 160 km | 160 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Bromont Ultra 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Bromont Ultra 80 km | 80 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Croatia

109,8 km | 109 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
161.4 km | 161 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Finland

Eastern Finland

Vaarojen Ultramaraton | 86 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

France

Ardèche

Trail noir 58 km | 58 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Aude

Grand Raid des Cathares | 177 kilometers | October 19, 2017 | website
Raid des Bogomiles | 101 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Aveyron

Endurance Trail | 100 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Essonne

Trail du Viaduc des Fauvettes 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Haute-Corse

A Paolina | 70 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Haute-Saône

52 km | 52 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Ille-et-Vilaine

51 km | 51 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Orne

85 km | 85 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Pas-de-Calais

58 km | 58 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Pyrénées-Orientales

100 Miles Sud de France | 100 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
Grande Traversée Mer Montagne | 110 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Rhône

55 km | 55 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Somme

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
100 km Relais | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Tarn-et-Garonne

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Herbstlauf Schloss Thurn Hobbylauf | 87 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Greece

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Prohiker – Round-trip Course | 156 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

India

Karnataka

110 km | 110 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50 Km | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
80 km | 80 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

National Capital Territory of Delhi

Bhatti Lakes 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Bhatti Lakes 220 km | 220 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Bhatti Lakes 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 06, 2017 | website

Indonesia

MesaStila 4 Peaks | 65 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
MesaStila 5 Peaks | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Tartufo Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Tartufo Trail 66 km | 66 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

69 km | 69 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Piedmont

120 km | 120 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
82 km | 82 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Morenic Trail | 109 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Kenya

Kenya Wildlife 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Korea

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Morocco

The Saharan Challenge | 52 kilometers | October 12, 2017 | website

Netherlands

Gelderland

Herfst Ultraloop Berg en Dal | 60 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

New Zealand

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
100 km Relay | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
74 km | 74 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Portugal

180 km | 180 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Azores Triangle Adventure | 103 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Réccua Douro Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Réunion

La Mascareignes | 67 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Le Grand Raid | 167 kilometers | October 19, 2017 | website
Trail de Bourbon | 111 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Slovakia

105 km | 105 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Golden Gate Challenge | 70 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Spain

Aragon

Long Trail Guara Somontano | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Guara Somontano | 102 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Castile and León

The Way of Legends | 254 kilometers | October 13, 2017 | website

Valencian Community

Ultra Trail Del Rincon 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Del Rincon 170 km | 170 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website

Sweden

Sörmland Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Valais

Les Défis du Jubilé – 52 km | 52 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 68 km | 68 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 71 km | 71 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Tunisia

Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100km | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Cornwall

Atlantic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | October 06, 2017 | website

Cumbria

Lakes in a Day | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Essex

75 Mile | 75 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

“Round Ripon” Ultra Studley Roger | 35 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Rotherham

Shropshire

The Longmynd Hike | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Wales

Gower Ultra 50 | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

Canyon De Chelly Ultra | 55 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Cave Creek Thriller 50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Flagstaff Sky Race 55K | 55 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Arkansas

Arkansas Traveller 100 | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

California

50K Ultra Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Coyote Ridge 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
Cuyamaca 100K Endurance Run | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Euchre Bar Massacre 50 M | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Midnight Express Ultra 72 | 72 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Skyline to the Sea 50km | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Super Tahoe Triple Marathon | 124 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Tahoe Double Marathon | 52 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Tahoe Trifecta | 39 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Triple Marathon | 78 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Twin Peaks 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Twin Peaks 50 Miler | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Colorado

50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Georgia

Relay | 60 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 100M | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 50M | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Illinois

100 Mile | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Des Plaines River Tail 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Kansas

Lake Perry Rocks! 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Kentucky

100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Maine

The Pounder | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
The Punisher | 50 miles | October 15, 2017 | website

Michigan

Montana

Le Grizz Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

New Jersey

New York

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 100K Run | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Tuna Run 200 | 200 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon 50k | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon 50M | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Oregon

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50+K | 54 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

50K | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Lt. J. C. Stone 50K UltraMarathon | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 100 Miles | 100 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Quad State Quad Buster | 46 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

South Carolina

50K Relay | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Ragnar Trail Carolinas-SC, Presented by Salomon | 120 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
Swamp Rabbit Urban Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Texas

50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Utah

Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
GrindStone 100 | 101 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
The Wild Oak Trail 100 “Hot” TWOT | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Washington

Baker Lake 50k | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Defiance 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ft. Steilacoom 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

West Virginia

West Virginia Trilogy – Day One 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 13, 2017 | website
West Virginia Trilogy – Day Two 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

50 Miler | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Glacial 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Glacial 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | October 08, 2017 | website
*****
CLOSE
02:51:35
*****
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*****
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Website – talkultra.com

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Five 42.2km

Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes are the 2017 Marathon des Sables champions! The displayed consistency, pacing and a strong mental approach to once again top the podium in a race that started multi-day racing an astonishing 32-years ago!

The fifth and final timed stage of the 32nd edition was the ‘classic’ marathon distance. The course started with a short section of rocky plateau and then dunes. At 5.5km a dried Oued with crevasse provided an early challenge and then at11km a small gorge introduced the runners to a stony Oued. From 22km the course alternated dunes and stony plateaus and at 37km the old town of M’fis situated on a hill provided a glimpse of the final bivouac in the distance. It was all downhill from here to close out the 42.2km course.

After a week of pure calm, the winds on the final day arrived causing sandstorms and twisters. Elisabet Barnes lead the early stages of the ladies’ race and then eventually Nathalie Mauclair finally took over the charge, no doubt trying to prove a point on the last day. Barnes kept the French lady in sight and the duo crossed the line in 3:52:17 and 3:54:31 respectively – Elisabet Barnes the champion of 2017.

Fernanda Maciel placed 3rd as she has done for much of the week, her time 4:14:32 and Emilie Lecomte 4th in 4:22:09. Aziza Raji placed 5th and the ladies’ top-5 was complete.

Despite an early charge by Thomas Evans, Rachid El Morabity seized the day as he has done most of the week showing a masterclass of running in the Sahara. He pipped his brother Mohamad (a star of the future) by just 7-seconds, 3:10:08 to 3:10:15.

Aziz El Akad and Abdelaziz Baghazza beat Evans to the line 3:11:19 and 3:14:13 to 3:16:20 – the week confirms Evans as a class act and one who has shown great humility to fellow runners.

Of course, the MDS is so much more than just runners going fast.

The finish line is one full of stories, emotion, tears and laughter – race director Patrick Bauer, stays on the line and experiences every single one with each and every runner. Some of the stories and images will follow in the coming weeks! But for now let me leave you with two magical moments…

Congratulations go to all those who completed the 32nd Marathon des Sables and a huge nod is forwarded to those who attempted a tough, challenging and inspiring MDS and did not cross the line!

Final results and stage results HERE