The Market – Morocco

“To visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated Persian manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines.”

– Edith Wharton, 1927

 

It’s about escape, my time in a place. Wandering and looking from within. The rich treasures a place holds. The people about daily life – I sneak in, capture a moment and take it away trapped for ever for others to see.

“… I wish I could tell you the wonder of the souks and marketplaces; the brilliant overflowing of spices, olives, fabrics; the witchcraft stalls; the fishmongers; the piles of mint and thyme scenting the air . . . and even more than this is the wonder of its becoming familiar, the sufficiency and contentment in knowing the names of things, the words to tell the taxi drivers, the sense and reason behind the lives of Moroccans …”

– Melissa Manlove, ‘Letter from Morocco’, Travelers’ Tales

Episode 133 – #MDS2017 Marathon des Sables Special w/ Elisabet Barnes and Tom Evans

Episode 133 of Talk Ultra is all about the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables. The show is co-hosted by the 2015 and now 2017 ladies’ champion Elisabet Barnes and we have a full and in-depth interview with top Brit and 3rd overall, Tom Evans.
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
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Read about the 2017 32nd Marathon des Sables HERE
New races added to the Marathon des Sable brand
Half Marathon des Sables Fuertaventura HERE
Marathon des Sable Peru HERE
Are you dreaming of giant dunes, amazing adventure, sharing, and introspection? Are you fascinated by South America? Do you like feeling the excitement of new adventures? If so, go down in history by being the first to walk or run in the footsteps of the Incas: come and join us at the end of November for the very first MDS PERU!
What: 250 km, 7 days of race, 6 stages, in food self-sufficiency conditions
When: from 24 November to 4 December 2017
Where: in the Ica desert, Peru
Who: YOU!
MDS PERU will be taking place in the Ica desert, 300 km south of Lima. You’ll discover the most beautiful South-American desert and will move about in one of the world’s driest regions, with huge dunes and sandy plateaux perched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes cordillera.
01:09:46 – INTERVIEW with TOM EVANS
UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Victoria

Maroondah Dam 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Austria

K65 Panorama Ultra Trail | 60 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
K85-SCOTT Heart of the Alps Ultra | 85 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

57 km | 57 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
La Bouillonnante – 56 km | 56 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Canada

British Columbia

50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Ontario

Pick Your Poison 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

China

Dalian 100 | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Dalian 50 | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Denmark

Hovedstaden

Salomon Hammer Trail Bornholm -100 Miles | 100 miles | May 05, 2017 | website

France

Alpes-Maritimes

Ultra Trail des Balcons d’Azur (80+25) | 105 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail des Balcons d’Azur (UTBA) | 80 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Ardèche

57 km | 57 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail l’Ardéchois | 98 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Aveyron

Le Saint-Guiral | 60 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Relais x 4 | 105 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Trail du Capuchadou | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Ultra du Pas du Diable | 120 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Ultra Trans Aubrac | 105 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Bas-Rhin

Trail du Wurzel | 52 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Deux-Sèvres

Course nature | 84 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Dordogne

100 km de Belvès en Périgord Noir | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Finistère

50 km | 50 kilometers | May 01, 2017 | website

Manche

60 km | 60 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Morbihan

118 km | 118 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
64 km | 64 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Relais 65 km | 65 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Rhône

Ultra Beaujolais Villages Trail | 62 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Savoie

Nivolet – Revard | 51 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Seine-et-Marne

Grand Trail du Sonneur | 66 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail de la Brie des Morin | 87 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Seine-Maritime

Le RaDicAtrAil – 110 km | 110 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Le RaDicAtrAil – 57 km | 57 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Vaucluse

95km relais x2 | 95 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
95km relais x4 | 95 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
95 km solo | 95 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Vendée

80 km | 80 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Vosges

Trail des Roches | 73 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Yvelines

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Lauf “Rund um Wolfach” | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Lower Saxony

HeXenStieg Ultralauf | 219 kilometers | April 28, 2017 | website
Hexentanz | 104 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Rhineland-Palatinate

53 km | 53 kilometers | May 01, 2017 | website

Saxony

Sächsische Mt. Everest Treppenmarathon | 84390 meters | April 22, 2017 | website

Greece

Doliho Ultra-Marathon | 255 kilometers | April 28, 2017 | website
Olympian Race – 180 km | 180 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Olympian Race – 62 km | 62 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Hungary

Mátrabérc Trail | 55 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Indonesia

100 km | 100 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
60 km | 60 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Ireland

Galway

Connemara Ultramarathon | 39 miles | April 23, 2017 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

50 KM di Romagna | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2017 | website

Lombardy

UMS Ultramaratona Milano Sanremo | 280 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Tuscany

Elba Trail “Eleonoraxvincere” | 54 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
The Abbots Way | 125 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Tuscany Crossing Val d’Orcia 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Tuscany Crossing Val d’Orcia 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Japan

Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 112 km | 112 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 72 km | 72 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Fuji Five Lakes 100 km Challenge | 100 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Fuji Five Lakes 118 km Challenge | 118 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Fuji Five Lakes 71 km Challenge | 71 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Madagascar

Semi Trail des Ô Plateaux | 65 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail des Ô Plateaux | 130 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Martinique

Tchimbé Raid | 91 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Mexico

Carrera de Baja Mexican Trail | 100 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Namibia

Sahara Race (Namibia) 2017 | 250 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Norway

KRSUltra 60k | 60 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Philippines

100 km | 102 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Portugal

Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115 | 116 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Madeira Island Ultra Trail 85 | 85 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Slovenia

110 km | 106 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

South Africa

50K | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Loskop Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
The Hobbit Journey 90 km | 100 kilometers | April 28, 2017 | website

Spain

Catalonia

72 km | 72 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Muntanyes de la Costa Daurada | 90 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Extremadura

LXVII Milhas Romanas | 100 kilometers | April 21, 2017 | website

Valencian Community

CSP-115 | 118 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
MIM Marató i Mitja | 63 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Sweden

100 miles | 100 miles | April 23, 2017 | website
200 Miles | 200 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
50 miles | 50 miles | April 23, 2017 | website
50 Miles Night | 50 miles | April 24, 2017 | website

Turkey

Iznik 130K Ultramarathon | 130 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Orhangazi Ultra Marathon 80K | 80 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Aberdeen City

Great Lakeland 3Day | 90 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

County of Pembrokeshire

East Dunbartonshire

Highland ‘Fling’ | 53 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Greater London

Thames Path 100 | 100 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Hampshire

XNRG Pony Express Ultra | 60 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Isle of Wight

Full Island Challenge | 106 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Half Island Challenge | 56 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

The Fellsman | 60 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Surrey

58 km | 58 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
58 km Relay | 58 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

USA

Alabama

Grand Viduta Stage Race | 43 miles | April 28, 2017 | website

Arizona

Sinister Night 54K Trail Run | 54 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

California

100K | 100 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 Miles | 50 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
Folsom Lake Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Lost Boys 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
Razorback 100K Endurance Race | 100 kilometers | April 24, 2017 | website
Razorback 100 Mile Endurance Race | 100 miles | April 24, 2017 | website
Razorback 50K Endurance Race | 50 kilometers | April 24, 2017 | website
Razorback 50 Mile Endurance Race | 50 miles | April 24, 2017 | website
Rodeo Beach Rumble 50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Colorado

100K | 100 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Connecticut

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 100k | 100 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50k | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50M | 50 miles | April 30, 2017 | website

Delaware

Trap Pond 50K | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Florida

JWCorbett 50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
JWCorbett 50M | 50 miles | April 22, 2017 | website

Georgia

100k | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
100M | 100 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Double Top 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Double Top 100 Mile | 100 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
Double Top 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
SweetH20 50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Idaho

Weiser 50k Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Weiser 50k Ultra Relay | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Indiana

Indiana Trail 100 | 100 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
Indiana Trail 50 | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Kansas

FlatRock 101K Ultra Trail Race | 101 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Heartland 50 Mile Spring Race | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Maryland

BRRC Gunpowder Keg Ultra 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
C&O Canal 100 | 100 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

TARC Spring Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Michigan

Running Fit Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Traverse City Trail Running Festival 50k Run | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Trail Mix Race MN – 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Missouri

Frisco Railroad Run 50k Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Frisco Railroad Run 50 Mile Ultramarathon | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

New York

Sybil Ludington 50K Run | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

3 Person Relay | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
6 Person Relay | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Hyner Ultra Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Solo Run | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
The Ironmasters Challenge – 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Blind Pig 100K Ultra Marathon | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Blind Pig 100 Mile Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
Xterra Myrtle Beach 50 km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Texas

Double Marathon | 52 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Utah

Salt Flats 100 | 100 miles | April 28, 2017 | website
Salt Flats 50K | 50 kilometers | April 28, 2017 | website
Salt Flats 50 Miles | 50 miles | April 28, 2017 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
70 Miles | 70 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
Biffledinked 10 x 5k | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Biffledinked 10 x 5k 2 Person Relay | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Colonial200 Relay | 200 miles | April 28, 2017 | website
Promise Land 50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Washington

50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Capitol Peak 50 miler | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
Mt. Si 50K Relay & Ultra Runs | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Mt. Si 50 Mile Relay & Ultra Runs | 50 miles | April 23, 2017 | website
Snake River Island Hop 100K | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Snake River Island Hop 50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Spokane River Run 50K | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
XTERRA Spring Eagle 50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Yakima Skyline Rim 50k | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Washington D.C.

Relay | 150 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
02:39:45
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
I’m Ian Corless and she is Elisabet Barnes.
Keep running
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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

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Four 86.2km

Two start times, 0815 and 1115, the same distance – a gruelling 82.2km of the best of what the Sahara has to offer, incredible views and at times brutal terrain with intense heat.

The route echoed much of the 2016 edition passing early through the oasis of El Maharch, a flat dried up lake before the first couple of climbs of the day starting at 10km. Cp1 offered some refreshment before the climb of Mhadid Al Elahau followed by a high level plateau traverse before a fast and thrilling sandy descent. Heading south a great deal of soft sand took the runners to Cp2 and then climbing a path, the runners came back on themselves through the nest valley. Cp3 to Cp4 was a long sand passage that eventually crossed a Oued. Cp4 to Cp5 and Cp5 to Cp6 were relentless dunes to sap the mind and energy. The push from Cp6 to bivouac via Cp7 was relatively flat but continually sandy – a tough day in Morocco!

The day in many ways unfolded at the front as one may have anticipated with Rachid El Morabity and Nathalie Mauclair taking stage victories. However, the story was not clear cut.

Mauclair took the race to Elisabet Barnes in a last ditch effort for victory. It was expected by everyone, after all, Mauclair is a long distance specialist. Through half the race the gap between the two hovered around 3-4 minutes. From Cp5, Mauclair extended her lead over Barnes but the 2015 Marathon des Sables champion dug in, used her flat running speed and closed on the French lady. Mauclair took victory in 9:39:58 and Barnes crossed the tape in 9:41:16 – job done! With the marathon stage to follow tomorrow, Barnes is in a strong perdition for a 2nd victory at this iconic race. Fernanda Maciel, also a long distance specialist, followed the duo ahead and she finished in 10:00:58. Emilie Lecomte was 4th.

In the men’s race, Rachid ran behind a lead pack that continually changed for much of the day. He never quite looked his fresh self but he pulled it out of the bag as he has done so many times before. He finished in an impressive 8:16:44.

Man of the day was British runner Thomas Evans who set his stall out on day 1 and has played the Moroccans at their own game. He has impressed day-on-day and on the long stage he didn’t sit back and defend, he attacked. At times leading the race. His efforts were rewarded with 2nd in 8:27:46. The margin of time behind him and El Morabity does not reflect a stunning performance! Rachid’s brother Mohamad placed 3rd and then Abdelaziz Baghazza and Remigio Huaman in 8:28:33, 8:41:42 and 8:43:39 respectively.

As I write this, runners are still out on the course enduring another day that will test them to the limit. Don’t listen to anyone who says ‘this’ is an easy race – it is not! So many are fighting demons, some fail, but the grit and determination is inspiring. For example, two people have inspired me – Duncan from the UK who is participating with two prosthetic legs and Louis from Luxembourg who has no arms – inspiring!

The fifth stage of the 2017 Marathon des Sables if the classic marathon stage of 42.2km and medals will be awarded on the line. The race is Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes for the taking – four sections of dunes will not make it easy!

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Three 31.6km

Day 2 of the 32nd Marathon des Sables was a tough one. The general mood in bivouac was one of exhaustion, fatigue, tiredness and the question – ‘How will I do it all again tomorrow?’

On the stroke of 0830, the remaining runners were released on a truly spectacular but tough and challenging day 3.

Just 2km out of camp dunes waited and a sandy passage through two mountains, Running through a Oued, the first challenge of the day came at 7.4km with a sandy passage and steep climb to the summit of Joua Baba Ali jebel and then a technical path lead to Cp1 at 10km. From here a small section of flat running preceded arguably one of the highlights of the 32nd Marathon des Sables – the second section of Joua Baba Ali jebel. This section is ‘skyrunning’ in nature – technical, exposed and a real challenge. A sandy descent lead to the flat valley and a long flat run to Cp2 before the tough and challenging climb to the summit of El Oftal jebel. Descending down a stony gulley, dunes followed and then a flat and expansive run to the bivouac concluded the 31.6km day.

The day started with Rachid El Morabity bidding his time and running a little behind his Moroccan friends. However, the early stages saw a charge from Remigio Human, Andy Symonds and Thomas Evans. Was he El Morabity struggling? The simple answer is no! After Cp2 he regained the front of the race and although he didn’t pull away and gain a huge margin, win the day he did! El Morabity crossed the day 3 finish in a ridiculous 2:33:14, his brother Mohamad was 2nd in 2:34:25 and then Abdelaziz Baghazza, Abdelkader El Mouaziz and Thomas Evans took the remaining top-5 placings in 2:34:26, 2:35:59 and 2:38:53 respectively. I think they were all thinking of the ‘long-day’ of 80km tomorrow!

Elisabet Barnes lead from the front once again and it remained that way all the way to the end. However, the technical terrain allowed Nathalie Mauclair to keep her much closer in sight and at times they were just seconds apart. It was in the flatter final stages that Barnes opened a little time crossing in 3:13:07 to Mauclair’s 3:15:14. Fernanda Maciel one again returned to form finishing 3rd in 3:27:11. However, Barnes took a fall today after being distracted on the course. At the finish she has received an injection and stitches… I have no other information at the moment and will report back after chatting in bivouac. Melanie Rousset, Emilie Lecomte and Aziza Raji took the other top-6 places in 3:28:02, 3:33:44, and 3:47:23.

Attention now turns to the much feared ‘long-day!’ At 86.2km and a 35h cut-off, this day will be a challenge for all. There are two starts with the majority of the race leaving at 08:15 and the top-runners departing at 11:15.

Results available HERE

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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Two 39km

The mood in bivouac on the second morning of the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables was one of mixed emotions. Satisfaction on completing day one, a good nights sleep and then the daunting contrast of a ‘tough’ day two and 39km with some significant technical and sandy terrain.

An 0830 start would allow runners a little more time to complete the stage – the cut-off was 11h 30min.

Heading south the early km’s were full of sand, dunes and climbing – Bou Laadam Jebel a significant marker at 5km. A plateau and then a steady sandy climb at 8.5km would lead to Cp1 at 12.8km. The next 12km would follow a southerly direction of sand, hills and dunes. Cp2 would offer some recovery before the push to Cp3. Dunes would sap the runners energy here and then a tough climb would lead to the highest point of the day via a gulley of rock. Elotfal jebel offered stunning views and then a steep sandy descent before the final Cp3 and a flat run to bivouac.

Day 2 was all about Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes. The duo dominated the day from the front and have well and truly laid a foundation for potential victory in the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables. Of course, there is still a long way to go…

El Morabity ran within himself till Cp1 but then opened up a gap leaving the rest to follow. The men’s field was spread throughout the sand, dunes and plateaus of Morocco – El Morabity was having none of the group running of day 1.

Abdelkader El Mouaziz, Mohamed El Morabity and Thomas Evans followed but they were not match for the MDS master. At the line, the gaps were significant. El Morabity crossed in 3:04:52 and then it was 3:12:15, 3:14:31 and 3:14:35 for El Mouaziz, El Morabity (younger brother) and Evans. Aziz Ek Akad placed 5th and Andy Symonds 6th.

In the ladies race, Elisabet Barnes is showing the form that gained her victory in 2015. She looks relaxed, happy and focussed. Last year’s second place Nathalie Mauclair commented on how strong she was running. Barnes lead from the front and never looked back, just as day 1, a way she like to run. She crossed the line in 3:49:04.

Following behind there was a change with Fernanda Maciel returning to form and pipping Mauclair to 2nd, the times 4:00:42 and 4:04:14 respectively. Emilie Lecomte placed 4th, Aziza Jaji 5th and rising star Jennifer Hill 6th.

FULL RESULTS HERE

The third stage will start 0830 and a distance of 31.6km and a 10h 30m cut-off will be applied.

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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage One 30.3km

 

On the stroke of 0900, the 32nd edition of Marathon des Sables began! The roar of the helicopter followed the runners as they were released from the line with a relatively flat, sandy 30.3km of the Sahara ahead.

Pre race nerves suddenly disappeared and months-upon-months of training and preparation could finally be put to use in the sands of Morocco.

As usual, race director Patrick Bauer warned the runners of how heat, dehydration and the desert brings a very unique challenge.

The route travelled south via a stony plateau and the first 6km were inaccessible by vehicle. A line of dunes followed that took the runners all the way to Cp1. From here, the direction of ESE and the east brought more flat but soft sand. A rolling landscape preceded Cp2 and then small rolling dunes, a rocky plateau and a small sand climb introduced the runners to the highpoint of the day and the sight of bivouac in the distance. A following 2.5km stony plateau resulted in the end of day-1.

The ladies’ race was all about 2015 Marathon des Sables champion Elisabet Barnes. Today she ran strong, confident and looked in incredible shape showing all the ladies a clean pair of heels. As she ran past me she shouted, ‘I feel great and I am loving it!’

Even 2016 second placed lady, Nathalie Mauclair could not keep up. Aziza Raji followed and then Fernanda Maciel, Emilie Lecomte and Melanie Rousset.

At the line, Barnes finished in 02:38:13, Mauclair 2nd in 2:44:57 and Raji 2:54:36.

The mens’ race was all about Brit, Thomas Evans. He but the Moroccan quartet of Rachid El Morabity, Mohamed El Morabity, Abdelkader El Mouaziz and Hammou Moudouji under real pressure as they pursued him through the sand and dunes of the 30.3km stage.

Always holding him in sight, it was like a stage of the Tour de France as the Moroccans took it in turns to pace and hold him at 1-200m. It was in the final kilometre they made a move. 2016 MDS champion Rachid was outsprinted by his brother Mohamad, El Mouaziz placed 3rd and Evans held on for 4th. The times, 2:10:36, 2:10:54, 2:11:17 and 2:11:58 respectively.

The 2017 edition for the race is going to be exciting!

Stage 2 is a tough stage of 39km. The start will be at 0830 and the cut-off is 11h 30mins.

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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Registration Day

It’s hot… I know it’s the Sahara but today has been hot!

After a day of travel, some 1200 runners arrived in bivouac yesterday and settled to a first night in the Sahara. A meal, some admin and it was an early night. The winds increased with darkness and the general comment in camp the following morning was, “Wow, it got cold last night!”

It caused some last minute anxiety as today is bag drop day and therefore after registration all runners are wearing and carrying everything they need for the week. I could see a few warm layers being taken from cases and added to packs… they can always be thrown away later!

Today is a long day as everyone just wants to run. However, all admin procedures must be undertaken at specified time slots.

Firstly luggage is left and it will not be seen till after the race. Passport and identity is checked and then an overview of medical forms. Packs are weighed for a minimum 6.5kg and in some scenarios checked for mandatory kit. A Spot tracker is added to the runners packs, numbers are collected, timing chips activated and that’s it. The process takes about 2-hours in the heat of the day.

Bivouac is spread over a large area and in each tent, which hold 8-people there is carnage as last minute planning takes place.

As the evening approaches, the last full meal is provided. On waking, self-sufficiency takes over and the runners will start, well and truly, the 32nd edition of Marathon des Sables.

Day 1 is 30.03km with a 10-hour cut-off time.

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Fred Streatfield – The Community Of Running

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Fred Streatfield has been running all his life. You could say that running defines him. However, Fred is so much more than a runner, he’s a husband, a father, a grandfather, great grandfather a builder and in April 2017, he has set himself the challenge of running the Marathon des Sables.

‘MDS’ as it is known within the running community, is for many a dream goal. It’s been billed as the ‘Toughest Race on Earth’ and while we all know that it’s not, the multi-day Saharan adventure does bring its own set of unique problems and difficulties to encounter.

The race is over 30-years old and has without doubt paved the way for all modern day, multi-stage races. It’s format of self-sufficiency has been copied time and time again. In the early days, it was tens of runners who toed the line. Now it’s 100’s of runners and in recent years, with the growth of ultra-running, more than 1000 stand within the dunes of Morocco every April for what will be, for them, the ultimate experience

When you’ve been running for as long as Fred, you’d think this Moroccan adventure would be a walk in the park, or should I say, the dunes for him. But no, despite 49-years of running, Fred is intimidated for this new venture in his life.

A race like this is intimidating, it should be, after all it’s why you do it, no? Fred is no different than any other when signing on the line and paying the deposit. He wanted his run experience to be made whole, with something alien to him, something that would completely take him out of his comfort zone. Little did he know that when he signed up, his challenge would become something so much more than running…

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Niandi Carmont caught up with Fred after a training camp in Lanzarote. It was a camp specifically tailored for those undertaking a multi-day race of any type. Among the 40-participants on the camp, Fred became somewhat of hero.

It’s a simple way to start any conversation about a future race, direct is best sometimes, “Do you feel prepared Fred?’

“Well, yes. Yes and no really. I feel I now need to do more training but in all honesty, I don’t stop – I do need to do more long runs though.”

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Fred had arrived in Lanzarote feeling a little worried that he would be isolated, little did he know that he was leaving one family behind to be joined by another.

“The training camp was absolutely just beyond belief really. The volume of running we did and the guys I ran with… It was amazing, they were all young whippersnappers, and me, I’m an old boy! But I did keep up with them.”

Keep up with them Fred did. He’s an old-school road runner, a little obsessed with running fast. Too fast at times, particularly when you consider his 65-years. We had a phrase when I was younger and you’d see an older runner, ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’ and yes, Fred is as fit as a butcher’s dog. On day 1 it was a shakeout run of just 60-minutes, Fred by his own admission says that he’s not used to technical terrain – too many years running on the road! Forty minutes into the run he hit the deck, it looked a bad fall. His arm was bruised, is elbow bleeding and he was holding his ribs. We imagined the worst. He bounced up, brushed himself off and pushed on. The next day, the first day of the camp was a long run, Fred didn’t hold back and placed himself in the fast group.

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”Yes. I went with the first group, with the fast group. Last year I ran The Great North Run with Mark Scott (also on the camp) and I beat him by about three minutes. We were running for Macmillan charity. In the race, Mark came in after me, we exchanged niceties, shook hands and then we met again on the camp. As I was waiting for the run to start, Mark came and said, “Come on, Fred. Come on. Come on. You belong in this group.” which was the fast group. I said, “No, no, Mark, I’ll go with a slower group”. He went, “No, no. You go into this fast group.” Anyway, I stuck with him for 40-minutes, the run was going to be about a 20 to 23 plus miles. I thought to myself, if I continued at this pace I may not finish. It would have done me in. Ian was with me at the time so we eased off with another runner, Paul Allum and then joined your group Niandi.”

Niandi was of course flattered, it was just 1-day into the camp and already Fred was getting a fan club. Niandi’s group was pretty much running all the time but it was a slightly slower pace than the group up front lead by Elisabet Barnes, 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion.

Fascinated by stories and people, Niandi knew Fred had a story, we all have a story, but Niandi had that intuition, that sixth sense that told her that there was more than meets the eye. It started simply, ”Tell us a little about what motivated and inspired you to decide to do MDS and how it all started?”

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“Well, it goes back quite a way. There is a nice little story attached to this. I saw the race on the internet and how it posed the question of challenging one’s self. I was attracted to it but I dismissed it and moved on. Then a few weeks later, I went on to a website and it popped up again. My initial thoughts were about it looking really tough and I wondered if I could do it, after all, I am getting on!”

Niandi laughed, she’d heard rumors that there was more to the story. She probed, “Tell my how your wife was involved the entry process?”

“I went off into town with my wife. I left her and went to get some information on the desert running. I hadn’t told her though. I bumped into a friend of mine and he said, “What are you doing?”  I was on the spot so I told him that I was thinking that I may be tempted to run in the Sahara and I was getting some information. I told him though, whatever you do, don’t tell the wife!”

I am sure you can fill the gaps but the inevitable happened. The following day they bumped into each other once again and how did the friend great Fred?

“How’s the desert coming on?”

“Have you entered?” my wife said. “No, but I’ve been considering it”

The ice was broken. Fred entered the race and never looked back. His wife supported him every step of the way. But elation and excitement turned to loss, sadness and questions if the race would ever happen.

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“I think it was December 10th, it was the registration day. That was 2015. We waited for the entry for 2017 to open. I am not computer savvy and she had offered to help me fill out the forms. Technology and me don’t go together. Anyway, we checked in and we paid the deposit and that was the start. At the same time, we were in the process of moving house, always a big thing. The move happened and then 5-weeks later she passed away.”

It’s a moment like this that a life can fall apart, imagine it, married for so many years and then suddenly a void. Fred was all set for throwing in the towel but this is the power of running and the community connected with the sport.

”There was a closed website group just for the people who are running the MDS in 2017,” Fred continued. “They all said, “No, no, no. Don’t give up. She wouldn’t want you to.” So, I decided to carry on. It’s been difficult and it’s still difficult now. That’s one of the reasons I’m running. II am also running for Macmillan Cancer Charity. It’s important to help the charity too.”

No words needed. What feels like minutes is only seconds and Niandi picks up the conversation. “That’s a very noble cause, Fred. You’ve had a lot of support from the running community and from the people at the Lanzarote Training Camp, but it’s also due to your personality because you’re very outgoing. You’re very positive. You’re very bubbly. You’re very communicative and you’re really fun to be around.”

There’s silence and then a, “Thank you.”

******

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“I can’t remember my first race. But I was running at school. That’s where it all started but a key moment was when I had started work. Some guy just walked up to me. He went, “You look fit. In the car park, over here, every Saturday morning, be there. You will want to bring some running stuff.” I didn’t get any backing from my parents or anything like that and I really appreciated it so I started to go, I still have those old plimsoles.”

Simple beginnings and picture starts to form of Fred, his background, his history, his dedication to work hard and graft.

“I got some old shoes and some old shorts and then just went running. It just went from strength-to-strength really. I was about 15 or 16 and I have never looked back – I have met some amazing people. Obviously, they were not with us anymore, but they kept me going and helped me and nurtured me through. Even in the early days, the running community helped me.”

Community, bonds, friendship, values, Fred found all these in Lanzarote and it confirmed to him all that is good about running and although the decision to continue after the passing of his wife was a tough one, he now knows it was the correct one.

”Words fail me really, everyone on the training camp has been so incredible. It’s been tough. they’re so nice. It was really tough, II didn’t say anything on the camp but while I was there it coincided with the anniversary of my wife’s funeral.”

“I think there was a very strong bond between everybody and people knew what you’d gone through and I think that they felt the vibes,” Niandi responded. “Family is also very important to you. I also got that impression because you come from a very close family. Well, maybe you could tell about your family, about your daughters.”

”Yes, my daughters have been strong for me. Also, I don’t know how they’ve coped losing their mom. But anything I want, anything, they are there for me. They cook me my food and they take turns to have me as a guest at weekends – just so that I don’t starve. I’ve got four children myself and each of my four children have got four children.”

”That is 16 grandchildren?”

”Yes, 16 grandchildren and one of my granddaughters who is now 20, she’s not the oldest, she’s just had a little baby girl, six months ago!”

“You’re a great-grandfather?”

“I think that shocked some of the guys in Lanzarote. They looked at me and said, “How many grandchildren you got?” I said, “I’ve got one great-granddaughter.” I don’t think they could believe it.”

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Married for 44-years, his wife was 18 and he 19. Through thick and thin, as Fred quite rightly says, “It wasn’t all roses.” But who’s story is. They battled the tough times, enjoyed the good times. “She was my best friend. She helped me, she made me who I was and she was a very strong person and a really nice person as well.”

Part man, part robot, Fred has held back some other vital information. “You also have to keep a check on your health,” Niandi asks. “Because you’ve had a few health issues?”

“Yes. I’ve got a pacemaker. It’s all checked, it’s all monitored, and it’s good to go. In 2012, when I had a problem, they said I would never run again. At the time, I was looking at the MDS and I thought my chance had gone. But since then, everything is working out and I am fine. I’ve done just over 200 runs and races. I’m pretty fit.”

The finish line of the 2017 Marathon des Sables will be a special one. Red ribbon will pass through the fingers of race director Patrick Bauer. Attached to the ribbon will be a large disc of gold. As Fred crosses the line and the prize is placed around his neck, I have a real feeling that there will be more than just Fred’s tears shed on the finish line. This simple man embodies the race. He is a personification of the values the race holds true.

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*****

 

Fred’s typical training week:

  • Monday – Swimming
  • Tuesday – Run club night which is usually a sat 8km-10km.
  • Wednesday – Cycling 2-hours indoors.
  • Thursday – Run club hill sessions or fartlek. Followed by 1-hour swimming.
  • Friday – Rest.
  • Saturday – Park Run in the morning and then a 10km to half-marathon run.
  • Sunday – Usually 9 to 15-miles.

On MDS:

I’m sure I’ve got everything that I need. The Lanzarote trip helped with this, there might be a couple of little bits that I need, but nothing really. I think I need to slow down a little bit when running, think about the long game. I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be tough. Believe it or not, I’ve joined a sauna club. I’m hoping to spend a few hours in the sauna. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take my running stuff, though. I run in Lanzarote with my pack and that worked, I didn’t have full weight in it but it was good. I need to test out my food now and I am good to go.

Would you like to join our 2018 Multi-Day Training Camp, if so, go HERE

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Lanzarote Training Camp 2017 – Day 8

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All good things come to an end and today, unfortunately, was the last full day of the 2017 #multidaytrainingcamp.

It started at 0800 with a run to our hill rep volcano (by popular demand) and after a 30-minute easy run, we then played on one of the most amazing natural obstacle courses that provided everyone with a great workout and stunning views.

A short break and then at 1100 we had a 2-hour talk on nutrition looking at the day-to-day needs of a runner at a typical self-sufficient multi-day race. All aspects were covered and of course a few surprises made many of the camp attendees raise an eyebrow and then quickly write a note to make sure they didn’t forget these pearls of wisdom for the future.

Lunch was followed with our last group runs. By popular demand they were easy, really easy. Elisabet ran 8km at ‘long-stage’ pace to provide an insight for the ‘faster’ runners of how to pace an 80+km stage. Niandi and Ian ran nice and easy for 12-15km and Marie-Paule took the walkers out for a long 5-6 hour hike.

That’s it.

I will update more in the coming days on the many highs of the 2017 camp.

As I write this, the bar is open and many camp attendees are practicing re-hydrating… it would be a shame to miss out!

Want to join us in 2018? Go HERE