The 2018 Marathon des Sables got underway today on the stroke of 0900 after an emotional Patrick Bauer released the runners into the sands of the Sahara for the 33rd edition of this iconic race.
The previous day had been a long day of admin and kit checks, so the 977 runners were happy to be finally experiencing the best of what Morocco has to offer.
At 30.3km the route was almost exactly the same as the 2017 edition of the race and an allocated 10hrs was allowed for runners to complete the distance. In MDS terms, it was a relatively easy day but the skies were clear, cloudless and it was hot with a gentle breeze allowing to cool as they ran.
The route started in a cued and at 5.5km the runners passed through a hilly passage before entering sand dunes. CP1 Brought a welcome rest at 13km and then the dunes continued to CP2 at 22.9km. There was a great deal of soft sand today and this continued in varying degrees all the way to the line with a narrow gorge at 25km and a small climb at 28.4km breaking up the terrain before the finish on a flat rocky plateau.
Predicted race times were 2:10 for the men and 2:35 for the ladies and these times were almost matched exactly with Mohamad El Morabity winning ahead of his brother and reigning MDS Champion, Rachid El Morabity, by just a handful of seconds. Ever present Abdelkader El Mouaziz was 3rd ahead of strong Peruvian runner Remigio Huaman.
For the ladies, 2016 MDS Champion Natalia Sedykh started the race with a strong performance ahead of USA runner Magdalena Boulet, their times 2:38:47 and 2:43:09 respectively.
Bouchra Eriksken was a surprise 3rd ahead of UTWT champion Andrea Huseer and the UK’s Gemma Game was 5th.
Stage 2 will start at 0830 and will be challenging day 0f 29km with a 11h 30m cut off.
Full results HERE
The 2018 The Coastal Challenge finally got underway today in San Jose, Costa Rica, as over 100 runners from all over the world came to packet pick up and registration for the 14th edition of the race.
As always, it was a mixture of nerves and excitement. The journey ahead, a stunning 6-days running along the coast of Costa Rica from Quepos to the iconic Drake Bay. Flanked on the right by the Pacific and to the left, the amazing Talamanca mountain range.
The 2018 edition of the race has all the makings of a classic. The men’s field is arguably the best ever with Michael Wardian, Hayden Hawks, Tom Evans, Marcus Scotney and Timothy Olson.
The ladies’ race is equally impressive with past winner Ester Alves returning joined by Ragna Debats, Inge Nijkamp and Josephine Adams.
Full preview HERE
Tomorrow, Sunday 11th, runners depart for San Jose at 0400 for the 4-hour journey to the coast.
It’s a tough day as the race will start at 0900, the sun will already be high in the sky and the heat intense. It’s a day when patience can prevail.
Follow the action as the race unfolds #TCC2018
Day 4 of the Cape Wrath Ultra was a stunner, no, it was amazing! The early morning cold temperatures and icy wind lifted to show the highlands in their true magnificence and what a course… today was arguably THE day of the Cape Wrath Ultra.
Just 69 runners (from 95) are left in the race, yes, the first 3-days have really started to hit! Although day-4 was a ‘recovery’ day (heard in the camp this morning!) of 22 miles, it was still a day of epic challenges and one seriously beautiful course. In particular, the section of trail from CP1 (on the A896) in the Glen Torridon that weaved it’s way up and up via a stony path between Spidean a Choire Leith and Spidean Coire nan Clach to the amazing cauldron that backed onto Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair. This is a stunning place! Despite tired legs, fatigue, pain and no matter what ailments, this place put a smile on every single participants face.
It may come as no surprise that Marcus Scotney once again lead the charge. He was instructed by event director, Shane Ohly, that under no circumstances must he start before 0900. For the remaining runners, the start window of 0700-0900 was open and many, despite fatigue, still decided to leave early in the hope that they would be back in camp to gain additional rest at the end of the day.
Finishing in Kinlochewe, Scotney stopped the clock in 4:05:52 and although Thomas Adams had been very close to hime at the midway point, he lost more time at the finish with a 4:22:22. Ian White finished 3rd and Pavel Paloncy finished 4th, their respective times 4:41:23 and 4:42:32 – looks like we may have a fight on our hands for 3rd place with Paloncy just 9-minutes advantage.
For the ladies, Ita Emanuela Marzotto was back on form today, with a definite, ‘I love the mountains!’ as she moved past me on the trail. Her time of 6:14:51 extended her lead over Laura Watson (overall ladies 2nd place) who finished in 6:42:26. However, 2nd lady on the stage and 3rd lady overall, Louise Staples stopped the clock in 6:34:04. We may have a battle on our hands for the ladies podium?
Ultimately, today was all about blue skies, white clouds and the stunning highlands, even Marcus Scotney stopped to grab some photos on his phone! Today was a special day and one that all the runners will not forget.
Roll on day 5 which once again is a (relative) shorter day of 27-miles and 1400m+ to Inverlael.
Follow the race and get more information http://www.capewrathultra.com
‘Well almost,’ is becoming a theme on the GL3D. Last night during camp 2 bivouac the wind increased – then increased – then increased! As sun rose, the carnage was clear to see. Broken poles, ripped tents, lost dry bags due to being blown away in the wind and in addition, the rain just kept on coming and coming. Some may call the conditions ‘character building!’ However, bloody brutal was the general consensus amongst camp.
Race director Shane Ohly, although extremely sympathetic to the runners needs was a little distracted… the large marquee that provides a shelter and eating environment for the runners was about to take off and provide a vey unique kite in the stormy skies. It was all hands on deck; poles were being rammed in the ground, straps were being added and luckily, the improvised actions secured the imminent flight.
The gale force winds, torrential rain and a bunch of tired competitors gave Shane no option – bad weather courses were announced at 0600. This was then adjusted nearer 0700 removing a key control that would have taken all runners over Grizedale Peak. The winds were just too strong and dangerous.
Only 7 elite runners were left in the race and they ran a full bad weather course, several runners attempted an improvised A/B route but most people just made a direct route to the ‘C’ finish causing a logistical headache for the Ourea Team. Buses had been arranged for approximately 50 runners, however, on the day, the numbers escalated beyond 100.
As one would expect, just as the day approached midday, the rain stopped, the wind reduced, the sky turned blue and white fluffy clouds occupied the sky as the sun broke through… you couldn’t make it up! Really?
Shane Ohly confirmed at the finish line, ‘this has been the most testing event and conditions we have encountered in any race we have organised. I don’t like to reduce courses but safety is key and we make the right call. It’s been a tough weekend!’
The runners confirmed the severity of the 3 days but it’s funny how morning grimaces turned to afternoon smiles. The GL3D ethos rose above the surface and talk soon started about 2017.
Images available at iancorless.photoshelter.com HERE
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