Ultra Mirage© El Djerid #UMED 2018 Race Summary and Images

Backed by the space port of Mos Espa (Star Wars Episode 1) the 2nd edition of UMED ( Ultra Mirage© El Djerid) got underway with the morning glow of a strong orange sun after it had tipped over the summits of the surrounding high dunes.  

Over 130 runners from 23 nations stepped forward to undertake a circular 100km route through the Tunisian desert. Heat, sand, mixed terrain, palm groves, oasis all providing a stunning backdrop to an ultimate running challenge. The calm and quiet of the Sahara broken only by the sound of birds. 

Any running journey can be a lonely one, but the desert really does provide isolation, only a snake or a camel providing any company. Of course, the sun only leaves the runner with darkness and as the rest from intense heat may be welcome, the complete darkness of the desert provides its own challenges as the runners navigate via reflective strips all the way back to where they started, the lunar landscape of Mos Espa and the bulbous film set village made famous by Star Wars.

The 2017 champion, Mohamed El Morabity had returned to defend his title, however, the desert king (Mohamed’s elder brother) Rachid El Morabity was also on the start line looking to upset the 2017 champions dreams. In the women’s field, two-time MDS champion, Elisabet Barnes was returning to racing after an almost year-long hiatus – what would the day hold for all of them? 

On the stroke of 0700 the runners were released. They had 20-hours to complete the desert journey via marked route and 5 checkpoints placed at 20km, 35km, 50km, 65km, 80km and the finish providing an end to an epic journey.

With no wind, the 30-degree temperatures seemed intense. From the start, the experienced runners reigned in their pace but at the front, Marwen Kahil from Tunisia dictated the pace followed by fellow Tunisian, Mohamed Mnsari – the duo no doubt wanting to put on a good show on home ground. All the main contenders followed some way back, they were in no rush to push the pace and Rachid, Mohamed and Sondre Amdahl maintained a close eye on each other.

In the women’s race, Elisabet Barnes dictated the pace, shadowed by Tunisian, Shefia Hendaoui. Behind, Orianne Dujardin from France followed looking relaxed and in control.

At 20km, the positions had hardly changed. However, Elisabet had broken away from her shadow and was now dictating the pace at the front. With 80km to go, it was a brave move, but she looked strong and in control. For the men, there was little but the front of the race was starting to fragment with runners either forming small groups or running alone seconds and minutes apart.

By CP2, it was all change. The desert king Rachid had gently pressed on his accelerator pedal and in doing so he had split the men’s race apart. The early protagonists were left to struggle with the only runners able to follow the Moroccan’s pace coming from his brother, Mohamed and Tunisian, Emir Grairi. The duo looked strong and in control and then minutes later it was the arrival of Sondre Amdahl.

For the women, Elisabet was now pulling away from Shefia and Oriane and her pace was starting to impact on the men’s race with the Swedish runner placing well in the top 10.

With 50% of the race covered and the arrival of the first Oasis the race was taking shape. Rachid and Elisabet had opened huge gaps and were looking strong for victory, but behind them both the race was changing.

The 2nd male to arrive was the Tunisian Emir looking strong. Then Sondre arrived. What had happened to the 2017 champion Mohamed? He finally arrived walking, looking broken and explaining that he had hurt his ankle. He looked set to drop out but at the 3rd CP he pushed on.

 For the women, the early pace had impacted on Shefia and now Oriane was running in 2nd. It was all to fight for though, the duo was only separated by minutes!

50-65km were the most challenging of the race with relentless soft sand that slowed the front runners to a walk at times. Behind, this section would eventually take its toll with over 30% of the UMED field not progressing past this section. Rachid and Elisabet took it in their stride but the impact on Emir was noticeable and he relinquished 2nd place to an in-form Sondre. Mohamed was somehow rejuvenated, and he now ran with the Tunisian, the duo looking for the final podium place. 

Rachid arrived at the 80km checkpoint looking tired and exhausted. The day was taking its toll. He searched for food and drink, but the fatigue was obviously confusing him, he was undecided what he needed. Sitting down he consumed two cartons of juice only to vomit them back up. He left for arguably the toughest 20km’s he would ever run. The gap Rachid had accumulated was crumbling and Sondre arrived just 3-minutes later. The fight was on!

 Sondre hunted the Moroccan down slowly pursuing but Rachid despite chronic fatigue never gave in, he arrived at the finish broken. He crossed the line and collapsed into the arms of the RD, Amir Ben Gacem. Moments later he was in the medic’s hands with an IV in his arm. Sondre finished a stunning 2nd just 6-minutes later. It had been an epic battle. The fight for 3rd came to an easy conclusion for the 2017 champion Mohamed when Emir dropped from the race with severe cramps just 5/6km from the line.

 Elisabet was the next to arrive, the new female champion and 4th overall – she was back! This was a stunning world-class performance and her time was just 9-minutes slower than the 2017 champion, Mohamed. 

“UMED was a really great experience. It was good to be back in a desert race after a break this year. I enjoyed the varying terrain, the heat, and the perfect mix of friendly atmosphere and hard racing.” – Elisabet Barnes

Behind, Oriane secured her 2nd place ahead of the local woman, Shefia.

With the arrival of darkness, the race took on a new challenge as the participants battled the terrain, darkness and the 0300 cut-off. As with all races, the dream of medals evaporated like water in a Mirage. Blisters, fatigue, dehydration, missing cut-off times, each runner had a story to tell.

“I did not dream of medal. I wanted to run strong and run well. That was my UMED goal. At half way I felt very unwell and I knew it was the beginning of heatstroke. I also had damaged feet with blisters… We had been advised that gaiters were not necessary, they were! I was mentally and emotionally strong, but I knew it was time to be kind to myself and I allowed myself to call it quits. I had done what I set out to do, I had run well, I had run strong, and that was for 50km. Next year’s goal will be to run well, run strong and get that medal.” – Sue Ding from Malaysia who had completed the 2018 Marathon des Sables.


As Roosevelt rightly said:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 Racing does not give guarantees. It is why we test ourselves. Pain eases, memories fade, skin heals and soon, often the next day, the desire to return and put the demons to rest is what motivates everyone. The desert is magic and leaves only one desire: to come back and tame it! 

Post-race, RD Amir Ben Gacem was proud of the race, “Last year, we had just 60 runners, this year we had over 130 and I am proud to say, over 30 women. That is stunning. The race will evolve, and we learnt some lessons this year that will be applied for 2019 only to make the UMED bigger and better!”

“Wow, I am really happy with that,” Sondre exclaimed. “I am the first ‘human’ – to place 2nd behind the desert king Rachid and to have his brother behind me is a true honour.”

 RESULTS

  1. Elisabet Barnes 10:26:06
  2. Oriane Dujardin 12:58:57
  3. Shefia Hendaoui 13:35:57

 

  1. Rachid El Morabity 9:11:47
  2. Sondre Amdahl 9:18:12
  3. Mohamed El Morabity 10:17:33

ALL IMAGES AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE HERE

UMED RACE WEBSITE

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Ultra Mirage© El Djerid #UMED 2018 Race Package

Join Marathon des Sables champions, Rachid El Morabity, Elisabet Barnes and the Ultra Mirage© El Djerid 2017 champion, Mohamed El Morabity for the ultimate 100km desert experience. Soft sand, rocks, small dunes, dried river beds, oasis and a multitude of soft-sand, Ultra Mirage© El Djerid is a single-stage race to test the minds and legs of runners who are looking for a new adventure.

The Ultra Mirage© El Djerid (UMED) is the first 100km Ultra Trail taking place in the stunning Tunisian Sahara Desert. A 20-hour time limit, five checkpoints, medical and technical help to ensure safety, the UMED is open to all runners. Importantly for the fleet of foot, prize money is available totaling 10.000 euros split equally between the male and female fields.

Rachid running at the 2017 MDS Peru which he won.

Tunisia and in particular the area of the Djerid was the background of famous movies including Star Wars and the English Patient just to name a few. The diversity and the beauty of the Djerid makes it a major attraction for tourists from all around the world. Tozeur is the main city of this area, it is very well known for its stunning surroundings with a mixture of Rocky Mountains, valleys, salt lakes and desert dunes and most of all for the generosity of its people.

Elisabet Barnes at the 2017 Marathon des Sables.

“Ultra Mirage© El Djerid 100K’s first edition was full of emotions! It was one of those moments where total strangers gather in a single event to release the best humanity has to offer: friendship, kindness, camaraderie, sport, courage, endurance, perseverance, love, compassion, respect, just to name a few, and all of that in the most amazing surrounding of the Sahara Desert! For 2018, we are looking to build on that outstanding success, organizing a race which will be bigger on all fronts, from the number of runners which should top 300, to a more diverse path and scenery! Hope to see you at the starting line on the 29th of September 2018!!” Amir Ben Gacem, Race Director.

The race will take place on September 29th 2018, and a special package price has been arranged for 350 euro:

  • Domestic flights from Tunis
  • Ground transport
  • 2 nights’ accommodation in a 4* hotel
  • Race entry
  • Race Shirt, cap, bag, medal and certificate

It’s an incredible package at a stunning price. Runners expected to fly into Tunis Carthage Airport (connected to all major European cities) at their own cost. Departure will be on Friday 28th September from Tunis to Tozeur international airport. Return on Sunday 30th September late afternoon.

Planning schedule:

Friday 28th September

16:00 Meeting at Tunis-Carthage Airport

17:30 Departure to Tozeur

18:40 Arrival at Tozeur-Nefta Airport

18:45 Transfer to Hotel

19:00 Check-in / Dinner / Race Briefing

 

Saturday 29th September

05:00 Breakfast opens

05:45 Departure to start line by bus

06:00 Last bus departs

06:30 Arrival at start line / Ultra Mirage village

07:00 Race starts

 

Shuttle buses will assure runners transfer from Ultra Mirage village to hotel every hour.

 

Sunday 30th September

03:00 Race finish

06:00 Breakfast opens

11:00 Closing ceremony

14:00 Transfer to Tozeur-Nefta Airport

16:00 Departure to Tunis

17:10 Arrival at Tunis-Carthage Airport

 

WIN A FREE PLACE

In conjunction with Amir Ben Gacem and Ultra Mirage© El Djerid we are offering readers of this website and listeners to Talk Ultra podcast the opportunity to win a 350-euro package place.

The winner will need to cover return costs to Tunis.

QUESTION:

Name the home planet of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movie?

Race Information and entry

Race website HERE

Enter the race HERE

Facebook page HERE

100km del Sahara, April 2014

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An adventure, an experience, a stepping stone to something else… the 100km Sahara is multi-day race that will introduce you to a whole new world. Join the journey in April, 2014. 

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Irrespective of your experience, the 100km of the Sahara will provide every participant a definitive sporting accomplishment. For some it may well provide the ultimate challenge, while for others, it may become a launching pad for continued participation in highly demanding extreme running races. The spirit of the race combines many elements; travel, adventure, excitement and ultimately a challenge.
 Pursue your dreams, pursue your passions and let the 100km of the Sahara provide you with a gateway to a new world.

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An annual race taking place over multiple days, participants test themselves against the challenge of running against the desert, while accepting the minimal assistance that is needed. The Sahara is fascinating, however it is one of the least suitable environments for running. If it was easy, anyone would do it… take yourself to a new level, add a new stimulus to your running. The Sahara will not only test your physical parameters but your capacity to control your mind.

Achieve your finish line!

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DETAILS:

The “100 km of Sahara” maintains a departure from the oasis of Ksar Ghilane, in the great Eastern Erg for the 2014, 16th edition of the race. The arrival; the mythical oasis of Douz will be achieved after travelling 100 km’s in 4-stages with 3-nights undertaken in a tented camp.

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The race itinerary is 7 days 6 nights. This competition is designed to bring out the spirit of challenge for those who create their own adventure. The race will have all the necessary ingredients of the extreme, but provides a race structure and format that is accessible to all. It’s a tough race but a race that is possible for all levels of ability!

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The 100 km of Sahara is a qualifying race for the UTMB Race and will count for 2 points.

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Capacity, 150-people.

  • Program flight included € 1.840 Milan or Rome
  • Program without flight € 1.640 
  • Single supplement (3 nights in hotel) € 100

The participation fee includes:

  • Flight to and from Djerba from Italy (only in the program with flight),
  • Transfers by bus and by 4×4 cars,
  • Full board for the whole week,
  • 3 nights in hotel and 3 nights in tents (6 people each),
  • Medical assistance during the race,
  • Tourist assistance,
  • Insurance.

During the race, a catering service provides food for all participants. All produce comes from Italy with the exception of fresh fruits and vegetables; they will be sourced locally in Tunisia. The menu will be balanced and based around runner’s needs and requirements.

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  • Breakfast: 
Coffee, tea, milk, cookies, cakes, fresh bread, jam, honey, muesli, cereals, eggs, cooked ham, cheese, fruits
  • Light lunch: 
Pasta or rice, hot or cold dish of meet, hot or cold side dish, salami and cold pork meat, Parmesan cheese, tuna, tomato salad, fruits
  • Dinner: 
Appetizers, pasta, rice, vegetable soup and broth, hot dishes of meet, hot or cold side dishes, tomato salad, Parmesan cheese, fruits, dessert, wine on the table.

What is not included?

  • Drinks and beverages at the hotel and in the oasis of Ksar Ghilane.
  • Airport tax.

WALKERS

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Max number of participants: 20

A new addition to the race is a walking category. Just 20-places are available, allowing an opportunity to explore the emotions and landscape of the Sahara in a more relaxed way. A special program has been arranged and will be independent of the running race but will run in parallel.

Walkers will be accompanied with a guide, dromedaries and 4×4 vehicles. Dromedaries will carry small personal luggage and the vehicles will provide security and reassurance for all walkers.

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The treatment for walkers will be the same as for the runners; night accommodation will be nomadic tents with personal sleeping bags; breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided in the camp with the entire group of participants.

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ITINERARY

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

  • Flight Milan or Rome-Djerba
  • Transfer to the Hotel ****, dinner and overnight in hotel
  • It will be possible to leave the extra baggage in the hotel; it’s MANDATORY for all the participants to put everything you need in just one bag. Exceptions will not be allowed.

Monday, April 28th, 2014

  • Wake up at 7.30 am, breakfast in the Hotel and transfer to Ksar Ghilane by bus for the opening ceremony
  • Arrival in the oasis, accommodation in the tent camp equipped with common
  • Rest rooms and showers
  • Lunch at the camp with local food specialties
  • 3.00 pm opening of the shop “merchandising 100 km del Sahara”
  • 5.00 pm designation of race bib numbers and assignment of tent
  • groups.
  • 6 people per tent
  • Dinner made by the Zitoway staff and overnight stay in the tent of the oasis

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 – 2nd and 3rd stage 26km + 9km (night stage)

  • 7.00 am breakfast and baggage delivery
  • 7.30 am start of walkers
  • 8.30 am start of the 2nd leg
  • Arrival at the camp, open lunch, relax in the afternoon
  • 7.00 pm dinner at the camp
  • 9.00 pm start of the night leg
  • Overnight at the camp

Thursday, May 1, 2014 – 4th stage marathon 42km

  • 6.00 am breakfast and baggage delivery
  • 6.30 am start of walkers
  • 7.00 am start of the 1st group
  • 8.00 am start of the 2nd group
  • 9.00 am start of the 3rd group
  • Arrival at the Hotel****Sahara Douz, end of the race
  • Lunch by the hotel restaurant
  • Relax in the afternoon

Friday, May 2, 2014

  • Wake up and breakfast
  • Transfer to Djerba, lunch at the hotel
  • Afternoon in relax by the pool
  • 8.00 pm dinner in the hotel and slide show of the race/li>
  • Overnight in hotel

Saturday, May 3, 2014

  • Wake up and breakfast
  • Transfer to the Airport of Djerba, on the way free lunch
  • After lunch transfer in airport for the flight back
THE FOLLOWING PROGRAM MAY CHANGE AND IS SUBJECT TO FINAL CONFIRMATION

PRACTICALITIES:

BAGGAGE

The backpack will be the only hand luggage on the plane, which should contain just what is necessary for the race – running shoes, shorts, t-shirt, and survival kitWe have already had an incident where someone’s personal luggage was in delay and they were at risk for not being able to participate in the race. If you have the necessary items in your backpack, you can run with no problem until your baggage arrives.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

  • I.D. is required to go in Tunisia for Italian people.
  • A valid passport is required and no vaccinations are needed at this time. It’s always recommended to check with your Embassy for any travel advisories.
  • A medical certificate issued by a sports medical center facility with a test of physical efforts confirming that the athlete is physically fit for this race is absolutely MANDATORY. Without this certificate, you will not be allowed to participate.
  • No certificate is required for walkers.

RACE CLOTHES

  • Shoes should be suitable for off road running, and should be a little oversized to allow for sore and swollen feet.
  • It is advisable to use gaiters for the sand, but make sure they are good quality and don’t impede performance.
  • If you tend to burn easily in the sun, it is not advisable to wear a singlet or tank top during the race.
  • T-shirts should be made of a suitable anti-sweat material like dryfit, etc.
  • It’s strongly recommended  to bring a Saharan scarf, called a “cechès”, that can be useful to protect nose and mouth in case of wind or sand storm as well as motorcycle glasses.

RACE BACKPACK

For safety reasons it is MANDATORY that participants have a race backpack that contains the following items:

  • A minimum of 1-litre of water (inside the backpack or in flasks around the waist), salt tablets, survival blanket, whistle, lighter and chemical light .
  • A hat, sunglasses, protective sun lotion, a small knife and some Compeed plasters are also recommended.
  • The mandatory equipment may be verified at any moment and if an item is missing a penalty will be immediately applied per regulations.
  • The survival kit can be purchased from the Organisation.

MEDICAL CERTIFICATE

  • A medical certificate issued by a sports medical center facility with a test on physical efforts confirming that the athlete is physically fit for this race is absolutely MANDATORY.
  • No certificate is required for walkers.

SAFETY KIT

For safety reasons it is MANDATORY that participants have a race backpack

that must contain the following items:

  • A minimum of 1-litre of water
  • Salt tablets
  • Survival blanket
  • Whistle and lighter
  • Chemical light
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Protective sun lotion
  • Small knife
  • Compeed plasters

The mandatory equipment may be verified at any moment and if an item is missing a penalty will be immediately applied per regulations.

Test yourself!

If it was easy, anyone would do it… take yourself to a new level, add a new stimulus to your running. The Sahara will not only test your physical parameters but your capacity to control your mind.

Achieve your finish line!

More information or booking here:

GALLERY:

Organisation:

ZITOWAY Sport & Adventure
P.I. 02510760362
Tel. +39 059 359813
Fax +39 059 2920013
Port. + 39 337 573662
Skype: Adrizito