Fuerteventura hosts the Half Marathon Des Sables 

The race will be held from September 25-30 and it will have a maximum of 500 runners.

This morning, Fuerteventura hosted the official presentation of the Half Marathon des Sables, a spectacular stages race which will take place between the 25th and the 30th of September 2017.

The president of the Cabildo de Fuerteventura, Marcial Morales, the race’s directors, Patrick Bauer and Fernando González, and Mario Valle in behalf of Playitas Resort assisted to the act.

The legendary Marathon des Sables has been held in Morocco since 1986, and it is one of the most famous stage races all over the planet. It will now expand to Europe and America. Fuerteventura has been the selected place for it, as Marcial Morales explained: The European edition will be in the South of Fuerteventura, which gathers the required conditions for an international, self-sufficiency race as this one. This will mean an enormous boost for the island as sports destinations”.

This first edition will have a maximum of 500 runners coming from all over the World, who will be the best promoters of Fuerteventura’s beauties and its perfect conditions as a destination for this sport which has experimented such an enormous growth in the last years.

The sandy and desert-like landscapes in Fuerteventura will be essential for this kind of event. This is one of the reasons why Patrick Bauer, the race’s founder, chose this place in the Canary Islands for it.

Patrick Bauer wanted to thank the collaboration of all the administrations which will make the Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura possible. He described the island as wild, with a unique nature and with similar weather conditions as Morocco.

Bauer revealed that the event will take place from the 25th to the 30th of September 2017. The race will have the the same philosophy as the original one: a multi-stage event, in self-sufficiency where you fight against yourself in a desert like landscape.

The total distance will be of 120 kilometres, divided in a yet undefined number of stages. The race will have a couple of basecamps during the course, starting from the South of Fuerteventura and ending in Gran Tarajal.


All the runners who are accepted for the challenge will receive a specific WAA tent, where they will be able to sleep during the race, as well as some carbon hiking poles.

Bauer wanted the presence of Arista Eventos in the direction of this prestigious multi-stage event. Thus, Fernando González and David Déniz, managers of the company in charge of races such as Transgrancanaria HG or Haría Extreme Lanzarote, were both present in the presentation. Amongst other tasks, Arista will handle the logistics of this massive event. To learn about the philosophy of the race, they will assist to Morocco in April to live the African event.


Mario Valle, in behalf of Playitas Resort, was also in the presentation as they will also collaborate with the event. “We’ve been promoting the sports and high quality tourism, and that is why we will support the celebration of the Half Marathon des Sables in Fuerteventura, in collaboration with the Cabildo de Fuerteventura with the only goal of having a successful event”, he stated.

Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura – New Event

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Marathon des Sables, the iconic multi-stage race has finally, after 30-years expanded with a new race for 2017 – HALF MARATHON DES SABLES FUERTEVENTURA.

The event will echo the ethos of the iconic ‘MDS’ race providing a 3-day self-sufficient journey of 120km’s on the Canary island of Fuerteventura.

Pre registration is open and although the event will take place in September, specific dates have not yet been confirmed.

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The MARATHON DES SABLES organisation and Fuerteventura present a new challenge: the HALF MARATHON DES SABLES FUERTEVENTURA. This 120 km running race in three steps will be held on September 2017, in Fuerteventura, in the Canaries Islands. As the MARATHON DES SABLES, it will be a food self-sufficiency race.

Unlike the the legendary benchmark multi-stage father figure race, Marathon des Sables, the new ‘half’ edition is designed to provide an entry level race at a much more affordable price. Where families may be able to join a racing father or mother and enjoy what Fuerteventura has to offer while a parent or parents race.

Although not confirmed, it is anticipated that entry per person will be under 1000 euro and places will be limited to 500.

(I must stress, this price and entry places are not confirmed yet)

Inscriptions for the race are HERE and as stated, it is expected that they will be limited.

Half MDS Marathon des Sables

Join our 2018 Multi-Day Training Camp with Elisabet Barnes and Sondre Amdahl in Lanzarote, January 18th to 25th. Booking and info HERE

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Lanzarote Training Camp 2017 – Day 7

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Day 7 started with two sessions – a tempo/ fartlek run of 5 to 8-miles or a technique session on using poles. Both were valuable sessions. Sondre Amdahl (9th overall at the 2016 Marathon des Sables) lead the fast men in a hard tempo session, Elisabet Barnes (2015 MDS ladies champion) pushed the pace for the second group and then Niandi Carmont lead group three with Marie-Paule leading the walkers. At the run track, Ian Corless provided a technique session on using poles. Many had the question answered, ‘should I take poles?’ Yes! was the unanimous answer. The awkward 20-30minutes of adapting to the technique required was rewarded with a faster pace for less effort.

At 1100, Marie-Paule talked, ‘Zero to Atacama’ where she told the story of how she went from little interest in endurance sport to completing the 2016 Atacama without running a step! The power of walking!

Lunch was followed with arguably one of the highlights of the #multidaytrainingcamp – a walk, run/ walk or run of 20-30km to an overnight bivouac inside a volcano.

It’s this ‘real’ experience that provides everyone on the camp a true understanding of what will lie ahead at future multi-day race. For many, it was the first time running with a pack that had food, sleeping bag, mat, clothing etc. A learning curve. For some the experience was rewarding and a confirmation they had made the correct choice of items. For others, alarm bells were ringing… the wrong pack, the wrong sleeping bag, the wrong sleeping mat, the wrong food and so on! This experience is invaluable in making sure that all the questions marks, all the potential problems are eradicated now so that the race experience is a good one!

A windy but relatively warm night under the stars and it was a self-sufficient breakfast before another 20+km run that included dunes.

As everyone arrived back at Club La Santa, there was a buzz. The last 24-hours had made the future ‘race’ a reality.

Interested in joining out Multi-Day Training Camp in 2018? Go HERE

Marathon des Sables 2016 #MDS2016 Race Preview

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MDS, Marathon des Sables, The Toughest Race in the World… whatever you want to call it, the 31st edition is just around the corner. Think about it, 30-years. It’s quite incredible how this race has grown and has become ‘the’ multi-day race to do irrespective of experience. It was the first and is still the best race offering an ultimate adventure for novice and experienced runner.

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

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“What concerns me the most is the runners’ safety, and our capacity to ensure rapid medical intervention and emergency health evacuation. The weather is another worry, but unfortunately totally out of our hands.” – Patrick Bauer

For the past three decades, some 19,000 runners have signed up for this experience, so, with the imminent running of the 2016 edition, it’s fair to say that race will see a great number of participants returning.

To summarise the impact on participants over 30 years:

(statistics provided by MDS media team/ official press documentation)
  • 30-40% are returning,
  • 70% are international,
  • 30% are French,
  • 17% are women
  • and 45% are veterans thus confirming that you are never too old to take part!

2016 will see 1200 runners participate, a huge increase from 1986 when only 23 runners took part.

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“The desert strips you bare, all the more so on a race like this. Values like sharing, solidarity, and respect for differences and cultures are omnipresent. So of course, friendships develop between the brothers and sisters of the desert who have no more barriers or boundaries and are all united to achieve the same goal.” – Patrick Bauer

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

The 2016 edition of the race will be 257-km’s offering a series of challenges that will test the mind and body in equal measure.

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“We try to convey happiness, enthusiasm and positive thinking through what we do and the sense of belonging is particularly intense for the runners, almost tribal, after ten days of sharing the adventure and fulfilling the same dream. Another thing I’d say was very important and a big part of the marathon’s success is the security and care that we bring the runners. The average age of participants is about forty, and most of them have children and have opted for a mishap-free adventure. In any case, when your family is far away, you count on quality organization.” – Patrick Bauer

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The Route

On a course punctuated by difficulties, competitors will get to see all of the Sahara’s different facets. Runners will have to cross ergs (dune fields), djebels (mountains), stony plateaus, dried-up lakes and oueds in which only sand flows, as well as oases, nomad camps, and traditional, rammed-earth villages. The desert has its secret gardens and those taking part in MARATHON DES SABLES will be lucky enough to contemplate them as a recompense for their efforts.

Stage 1 – 10th April

12km of majestic dunes kick off the race anddunes conclude the stage for the last 3km before competitors reach the bivouac. In-between, runners will have the time to appreciate the difficulty of making their way down a sandy oued and crossing a ghost village. Although not confirmed, I would anticipate that the Erg Chebbi Dunes may start the 2016 race. These dunes finished the 2015 edition on the charity stage. This will most definitely mean a longer transfer from the airport to the start of the race and these dunes are tough! “The dunes of Erg Chebbi reach a height of up to 150 meters in places and altogether spans an area of 50 kilometers from north to south and up to 5–10 kilometers from east to west lining the Algerian border.”

Stage 2 – 11th April

A long stage, with a wide variety of terrains. The standard dunes will be accompanied by stony plateaus where time stands still, rammed-earth villages inhabited by courageous souls farming arid land, and some steep djebels. As beautiful as it is difficult.

Stage 3 – 12th April

MARATHON DES SABLES will merit its name on this stage. The first part will go fast but, before the 1st check point the dunes will emerge… and then carry on, with more before and after the 2nd check point and a few more before the bivouac. The desert will go up and down with a slight climb before some slopes of over 20% that will put it all into perspective.

Stage 4 – 13/14th April

Known as “the long one” by old hands, this is the most testing part of the race, where you really need to manage your energy. The list of remarkable sites along this stage is particularly long. It’s the kind of stage that made MDS’s reputation. In less than 35 hours, runners’ minds and bodies will have had their fill. Running through the sand at night under the stars teaches all of them about humility. No one emerges from this long pilgrimage unchanged.

Stage 5 – 15th April

The Marathon stage. For those who thought they’d seen it all, get ready for a revelation. This entirely new route will take you through some splendid sites and end in a battle for the leading places. The less hurried will take their time to admire the landscapes. A lot more dunes and hills for 42.2km.

Stage 6 – 16th April – SOLIDARITY UNICEF legs

This obligatory stage is timed but does not count in the MDS ranking. You have to cross the finish line to feature in the ranking of the 31st MDS and receive a finisher’s medal. When they reach the small village in which the final finish line is located, competitors, sponsors and families signed up on this stage will make up the caravan and be able to appreciate the beauty of the landscape, all wearing the colours of UNICEF, which supports projects for impoverished children. This stage is mostly a chance to reflect on the experience of this amazing human adventure, and raise awareness of solidarity before returning to civilization.

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ONES TO WATCH AT MDS 2016

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Elisabet Barnes is the defending champion and has become a dominant force in the world of multi-day running. She followed MDS victory in 2015 with victory in Oman and placed 2nd lady at the recent The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Recent life changes have impacted on Elisabet’s preparation for the 2016 edition of the race but she knows the desert, she knows the sand and she knows how to race over multiple days.

PRE RACE INTERVIEW WITH ELISABETH BARNES HERE

“I have a lot more experience than I had in 2012. I do train a little more, but it’s really that I understand more about pushing myself further and how to manage my food and water. My bag was also a lot lighter than in 2012, my 2015 bag only weighed 7 kilos compared to 11 kilos in 2012.”

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Fernanda Maciel is a newbie to the Sahara and multiple day racing despite victory at the 2013 Everest Trail Race. One thing is for sure, the heat should not be a problem for the Brazilian ultra runner. An experienced competitor, Fernanda recently spent a long period of time at altitude in an effort to set a ‘FKT’ (fastest known time) on Aconcagua. Something she achieved! Her success at races such as UTMB, Transgrancanaria and Ultra-Trail Mt Fuji will almost certainly mean that she will be a force to be reckoned with.

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Nathalie Maculair will without doubt shake things up at the 2016 edition. Her results speak for themselves and her ability to run fast, climb, handle technical trail will (and quite rightly so) intimidate her competition. Nathalie has raced well at Transvulcania, become a world trail champion and also won the ridiculously tough, Grand Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). This will be Nathalie’s first multi-day race but she has raced in ‘Raids’ before. Her small size will without doubt be a huge disadvantage in the early stages.  A wife and mother, this may well be the ultimate escape for her.

“Given my small size, transporting 6-7 kg will be quite a challenge. But I’ve already run with a large bag on multisport raids. I enjoy the period when you prepare the bag and start picturing yourself on the race and thinking about what you’ll need. Once I’m in that phase, part of me is already there.”

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Laurence Klein has won the race multiple times (2007, 2011 and 2012), and knows the sand and the race better than anyone else. You van never rule her out! In recent years’ things have not gone to plan in the big sand pit, but Laurence is back once again, that can only mean one thing; she believes she can win!

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Liza Howard ran MDS last year and placed 16th which does not reflect her ability. She has real experience of ultra running as she proved with victory at Leadville 100 in late 2015 (she also won Leadville in 2010) and I am sure that she learnt valuable lessons in the 2015 edition of MDS that will only make her stronger and more resilient in 2016.

Aziz Raji a name I initially missed but a hot contender for the podium after great runs at Trans Atlas Marathon and in Oman.

Meghan Arbogast is another USA based runner that has all the credentials and history to make a real impact in the dunes and the hard packed sand of the Sahara. A fast runner, particularly over 100km, Meghan’s race history dates back to 1996 and is compulsive reading.

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Natalia Sedykh placed 3rd last year and like Elisabet Barnes was an unknown entity. She had a steely grit and determination and I can’t help but think that 1-year on, she will come to the race meticulously prepared with just one objective; overall victory!

Ladies to watch:

Frederica Boifava, Annick Ballot, Gweanelle Coupon, Elise Delannoy, Sophie Laversanne, Claire Price, Holly Zimmermann, Maree Jesson and more.

The MEN

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Rachid El Morabity has won the race three times, is defending champion, has local knowledge and is the man to beat, need I say more?

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Franco Colle is a surprise entry as he loves the mountains. He had an incredible 2015 racing on the Skyrunner World Series and by contrast he has won the epic and demanding, Tor des Geants. He has strength, technical ability and is used to carrying a pack in the mountains, this is his first MDS but don’t rule him out!

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Sondre Amdahl has been a revelation in recent years with a sting of world -class performances at UTMB, Western States, Transgrancanaria, UTMF and so on. He recently pulled out of the 2016 edition of Transgrancanaria and has then devoted himself to preparing for the Sahara. A fierce competitor, he will try his hardest day-after-day.

PRE RACE INTERVIEW WITH SONDRE HERE

“I’m not afraid of it, but I do have a great deal of respect for the race. I’m trying to prepare myself as best as I can, especially for the heat, sand and lack of food. I live in Norway, and it’s cold there right now, so I’ll spend some time in Spain and Morocco before the race.”

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Erik Clavery is the great French hope. He has said numerous times that MDS is a dream race and he has set his sights high.

“This weekend I set off to the dunes in western France once again with my 6.5 kg bag on my back. The hardest part will no doubt be getting used to the heat. It’s not easy to reproduce those conditions over here in the winter. So I work on my home trainer wearing a thermal jacket!”

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Carlos Sa has come close but never quite managed to smoke the MDS cigar. He placed 4th in 2012 and 7th in 2013. This year, Carlos has really set his sights on MDS and his recent run in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge was great training. We all know he can run in the heat as his 2013 victory at Badwater 135 confirms. I hope he makes the podium!

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Chema Martinez is a 2:08 marathon runner, he placed 6th at MDS last year and recently had a great run in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge. He’s a fun loving guy who loves to race and race fast. He made mistakes in 2015 and will look to put them right in 2016 – watch this space!

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Jason Schlarb is one of the USA’s top runners who has excelled at races such as UTMB. Just recently he skied (with 3 others) the Hardrock 100 course over 4-days. A world first and a huge achievement. Without doubt, MDS will be a huge learning curve for Jason but it’s a challenge he is embracing. He sees the race as one big adventure!

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The Moroccans

  • Aziz El Akad has been in the top 5 six times, so a repeat performance is highly likely.
  • Abdelkader El Mouaziz was 2nd last year and a super fast runner. He will be looking to oust Rachid for the top slot and he has the race to do it!
  • Samir Akhdar has never won MDS but has placed in the top 8 seven times.

Men to watch:

Jean-Sebastien Braun, Marco Olmo, Greg Dunning, Glenn McDougall, Alejandro Lopez Reyes, Ahmed Tahiri, Mohamed Faraj, Marco Pajusco, Juan Manuel Cortes and more.

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Crazy Statistics of the MDS

“The logistics are a big headache and we organize every last detail in advance! We’re a village of 2,000 people that has to be set up and dismantled every days and needs to be self-sufficient in energy, food, water and fuel. As one of my friends says, ‘Let’s expect the worst because the best will never surprise us!’ We also benefit from the infallible support of the Royal Moroccan Army, which makes available about 25 6WD military trucks to transport all of our equipment.” – Patrick Bauer

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▪    150 volunteers to supervise the race,

▪    450 general support staff,

▪    120,000 liters of bottled mineral water,

▪    300 Berber and Saharan tents,

▪    120 all-terrain vehicles and trucks,

▪    2 Squirrel helicopters and 1 Cessna plane,

▪    8 Transavia ‘MDS special’ commercial planes,

▪    30 buses,

▪    4 dromedaries,

▪    1 incinerator lorry for burning waste,

▪    5 quad bikes to monitor race environment and safety,

▪    72 medical staff,

▪    2.3kms of Elastoplast,

▪    12,200 compresses,

▪    6,000 painkillers,

▪    150 liters of disinfectant,

▪    1 editing bus,

▪    5 cameras,

▪    1 satellite image station,

▪    10 satellite telephones,

▪    30 computers, fax and internet,

▪    18,000 competitors since 1986

▪    30% returning competitors, 70% international, 30% French,
17% women, 45% veterans,
30% in teams,
10% walkers,
90% alternate walking and running,

▪    14 km/hr.: average maximum speed, 3 km/hr.: average minimum speed,

▪    15 years of age for the youngest competitor and the oldest, 83!

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30 Years of the MDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 – Rachid ELMORABITY (MOROCCO) – Elisabet Barnes (SWE)

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A brief history of the MDS

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

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

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

1989: 170 competitors take the start of the race.

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

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

First participation by the Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal

1994: Arrival of the Doc Trotters at the event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Multi-Day Training Camp Schedule Jan 28th – Feb 4th 2016

Multi-Day Camp Image

Located at the iconic Club La Santa resort, our training camp will provide you with all the knowledge, experience and practical training you need to make your next multi-day adventure a success.  Hosted by Ian Corless and 2015 ladies Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes,

The 2016 multi-day training camp in conjunction with:

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Lanzarote offers a variety of terrain that can be found in many desert races and therefore it’s the ideal training ground to prepare and acclimatize for an up and coming challenge.

The camp will provide workshops where it will be possible to discuss and test apparel and specific multi-day kit.

You’ll be able to try dehydrated food and test your hydration strategy in a real situation.

You’ll spend a night out under the stars in your sleeping bag and importantly, you’ll be able to test your pack and work out what works and what doesn’t work.

In addition to all this you’ll have 7 days of training geared towards your targets based around your ability and experience. This camp is for everyone; experienced or novice.

Club La Santa as a resort offers a great base and all facilities are included. This is great for relaxation, an opportunity to cross train or more importantly it’s perfect for friends and family to join you as a plethora of opportunities are available.

INFORMATION

The purpose of any training camp is to provide you with specific information and training designed specifically to help you with your future objectives. Although you may run (train) more in this condensed week, it’s not designed to break you! Therefore, all training sessions are flexible and you can dip-in and dip-out as required. Most importantly, just as in any race, we will have a very mixed ability base. You will therefore train at your appropriate pace with like minded people.

Each day will be broken down into one or two specific training sessions, one workshop and leisure time.

Club La Santa as a resort is a great destination for a training camp due to its proximity to Morocco, mixed terrain and the excellent facilities available within the Club La Santa complex. Over 30 different sports are available ‘free’ to anyone staying within the complex and of course they can be included within your schedule or during your free time.

Apartments at Club La Santa are functional and consist of a lounge/ diner with kitchen, bedroom with 2 x single beds and a bathroom. The lounge area coverts to 1 or 2 single beds. Apartments are for 2 adults sharing and 1 or 2 children can join for free as required.

Club La Santa has 4 restaurants: Atlantico is a buffet restaurant, Pool Bar is located outside near the swimming pools and is great for lunch, casual drinks and evening dinner, La Plaza and El Lago are based within the complex and offer a more formal dining experience. La Santa village is less than 2-miles from the CLS resort and a selection of excellent local restaurants are available. Finally, apartments do offer the option to self cater, however, you will find that evenings in CLS are about getting together, relaxing as a group or in smaller groups and bonding. Just as you would in bivouac.

SCHEDULE

This schedule may tweak or change due to situations beyond our control.

 

Thursday 28th

Travel to Arrecife from the UK. Easyjet offer a selection of very affordable flights from London, Bristol, Midlands and Liverpool. Ideally an arrival time at CLS before 1700 hours is preferable.

A taxi from Arrecife airport to CLS is 35-50 euros and that is for 1-4 people. Journey time is less than 30-minutes. Where possible, we can look at journey times and connect people prior to departure so it will be possible to share taxi costs.

1700 – 1900 Meet and greet at the Sports Bar within CLS.

1930 Group dinner and welcome at the Pool Bar (food payable locally)

Friday 29th

Important – unless otherwise stated, all sessions will meet at the run track. Please be punctual. All sessions will start on time.

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0900 – 1200 Coast run to Famara and return. This is a flat run along mixed terrain (sand, lava, rocks) to the coastal town of Famara and then return back to CLS. This is an out and back route and therefore suitable for all abilities.

12-00 – 1500 Lunch and relaxation.

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1500 – 1700 What goes in the multi-day rucksack

1730 Optional easy 20-40min run or walk.

1900 Drinks and the Sports Bar.

2000 Dinner as a group or as per your requirements.

Saturday 30th

Meet 0830 CLS Reception

©iancorless.com_MDS2015Day3-68620900 – 1530 Volcano Walks – 5 hours trekking over 3 different routes catered for all abilities. This is an organized CLS excursion and is suitable for all providing an opportunity to sight see and gain time on feet. Make sure you have sun cream, water and snacks. An official guide and a snack is provided. This is for adults only, apologies for anyone who may be travelling with children.

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1730 – 1900 Food and Hydration for the multi-day adventure (workshop and talk).

1930 Drinks at the Sport Bar.

2000 Dinner – as a group or as per your requirements.

Sunday 31st

0800 – 1200 Coastal run to Timanfaya over mixed undulating terrain. This run has some challenging terrain, a little scrambling and provides an excellent opportunity to test oneself.

1200 – 1500 Lunch and relaxation. ©iancorless.com_MDS2015Day2-0398

1500 – 1630 Foot care what to do and what not to do.

1700 – 1800 Easy run of 20, 40 or 60min.

1930 Meet Sports Bar.

2000 Dinner as a group or as per your requirements.

Monday 1st

0700 – 0800 Optional pre breakfast run.

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0900 – 1200 Rucksack discussion (look at Raidlight, WAA, Ultimate Direction, OMM) We discuss fitting, packing and how to ensure that the pack you choose is specific to your needs and how to pack.

MDS Kit

1200 – 1500 Lunch and relaxation.

1530 Run and Bivouac – This will provide all of you with an opportunity to test your pack, sleeping bag, clothing, food, hydration, cooking options and dehydrated food in a real situation. We will run/ hike out of CLS camp departing at 1700 for an estimated 3-4 hours. We will then bivouac and depart the following morning back to CLS early.

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*Note – due to logistics and functionality we will not be able to provide shelter for the bivouac, so, if you wish you can bring a bivvy bag or you can buddy up with another runner and share a 2-man tent. Alternatively, you can sleep under the stars (weather depending). We strongly recommend that you bring a sleeping matt even though you may wish not to use or carry one when racing. Also, your multi-desert sleeping bag may well be a little cool for a bivouac night in February! Please bring long sleeve base layer and tights. We also recommend that you bring a lightweight jacket (down) for added evening and/ or sleeping warmth. This is all very specific and applicable to a typical evening in a desert race. We will be available to provide any help and advice prior to departure to ensure that you have all you need.

Tuesday 2nd

0700 Depart bivouac and head back to CLS.

1200 – 1500 Lunch and relaxation.

1530 – 1700 Debrief from bivouac run. Lessons learnt, what worked and what didn’t work.

1730 Easy 30min run or walk.

1900 Drinks at Sport Bar.

2000 Dinner as a group or as per requirements.

Wednesday 3rd
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0900 – 1200 Run/ walk with dune/ sand familiarization and technique.

1200 – 1500 Lunch and relaxation.

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1500 What can go wrong and how to prevent it. Be prepared workshop!

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1600 Shoe choice and gaiters.

1730 – 1830 Coast run/ walk – out and back route for all abilities.

1930 Drinks at the Sports Bar.

2000 Farewell group meal. 

Thursday 4th

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0700 – 1000 Coastal run for all abilities with pack and putting into practice everything learned during your week in Lanzarote. We appreciate that Thursday is departure day, so this run is optional and a bonus for those who can make it. You can obviously cut this run short at anytime, hence the out and back route.

Thursday am/pm return back to the UK.

Please book your taxi or bus at CLS reception.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

This training camp is designed to provide an insight into the demands that a multi-day adventure will bring. It is aimed at all abilities and although training and adaptation is a key element of the camp, it is not the most important aspect. Your week in Lanzarote has been designed to provide you with all the information you will need in a ‘real’ environment so that you can ask questions and make mistakes during your training week, not during your race. Leave nothing to chance!

Places are limited and the camp is currently over 50% full.

Camp cost £800 (early booking discounts now have expired, apartments and places now on application)

This includes a self catering apartment on a share basis. Inclusion in the above schedule and access to all facilities within the Club La Santa complex. 

non-running partner cost is £500 or £530.00 if they wish to attend the Volcano walk which is suitable for all abilities.

Balance deadline is now due on booking due to the proximity of the training camp.

What is not included?

Food and drinks are all payable locally. Any additional day trips or excursions and flights/ transfers to and from the UK and internal transfers to and from the airport in Lanzarote.

How to book?

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE ROUTE for 2015

Stage 1 – Sunday 5th April

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

Stage 2 – Monday 6th April

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

Stage 3 – Tuesday 7th April

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

Stage 4 – Wednesday 8 / Thursday 9 April

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

Stage 5 – Friday 10 April

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

Stage 6 -Saturday 11 April – SOLIDARITY UNICEF legs

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

RUNNERS TO WATCH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the female contingent:

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

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

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

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

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

INSPIRING STORIES:

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

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

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

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

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

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CRAZY STATS:

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

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QUOTES

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

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Twenty-Nine years of victories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RACE SCHEDULE 2015

 

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

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Marathon des Sables – A history in brief

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

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

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

1989: 170 competitors take the start of the race.

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

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

First participation by the Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal

1994: Arrival of the Doc Trotters at the event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content and information provided by ©marathondessables

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

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The North Face Transgrancanaria 2015 – Race Day Images

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The 2015, The North Face Transgrancanaria was always going to be an exciting race… you only had to look at the line-up of elite athletes who had travelled from around the world to participate.

However, the script was thrown out of the window and series of surprises continued to unfold for the duration of the race, leaving us all to wonder, who would be crowned 2015 champions?

Nuria Picas (Buff) regained her 2014 title with a time of 16:53:27. Although Nuria didn’t lead the race from start to finish, once the Catalan took the reigns there was no holding her back.

Lithuanian Gediminas Grinius (inov-8) won in the male race in a time of 14:23:37. However,  was a race of many surprises and changing scenarios.

The race started in mild weather but as time passed, an ever increasing wind started to blow making conditions extremely difficult during the night. The breaking of a new day added sun and heat to the equation and this combination of elements caused a continual problem for nearly all the runners.

Ladies:

1 – Núria Picas 16:53:27
2 – Caroline Chaverot 17:16:48
3 – Dong Li 18:15:55

Men:

1 – Gediminas Grinius 14:23:27 new CR
2 – Didrik Hermansen 14:30:07
3 -Antoine Guillon 14:39:05

Notable withdrawals during tha race came from: Nikki Kimball, Yan Longfei, Iker Karrera, Pau Bartoló, Fernanda MacielJoe Grant and local hero, Yeray Durán.

A full results article will be posted on Sunday 8th March.

Race Day Images are below. Please respect the copyright of ©iancorless.com

Marathon des Sables, 29th Edition, Race Preview

MDS Logo

It begins again, the Marathon des Sables! Now in its 29th year, the epic multiday race in the Sahara is considered by many the Father of stage racing. Often called ‘The Toughest Race on Earth’ we all know that it isn’t but one thing is for sure… it’s no walk in the park.

all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

iancorless.comP1030603Heat, sand, survival, reduced calories and self sufficiency pushed to the limits will test each and everyone of the 1079 participants who will toe the line in South Morocco.

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 Participants from France will represent 30% of the field and over 45 other nations make up the remaining 70% with the UK providing the largest contingent. The provinces of Errachidia and Tinghrir will host the 2014 Marathon des Sables over 6-stages with a total distance of 250km’s. An easy day will be 30km and the longest day, 75km. It’s a wonderful way, albeit a tough and challenging way to embrace the Moroccan dessert.

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The 2013 edition of the race was noted as ‘one of the toughest’ in the races prestigious history, 2014 will be no different; traversing ergs, djebels, stony plateaus, dried-up lakes (wadis) and of course lush oasis. Occasional passing traditional villages and encampments of nomads, the 29th edition of the Marathon des Sables promises to be a ‘secret garden’ of the Sahara.

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Described by race founder, Patrick Bauer as ‘the greatest show on earth’, his comparisons to a circus are apt. The Marathon des Sables really is a large circus like operation on a scale that is second to none. Volunteers number 130 to supervise the race, 430-general staff support the race and 300-local Berbers man the bivouac. All-terrain vehicles number 120, 8 ‘MDS’ planes, 25-buses, 4-dromederies, 1-incinerator lorry, 5-quad bikes and 2-helicopters keep the show on the road. Add to this 52-medical staff, journalists, photographers and you really have what I have come to call, the ‘Cirque de Sahara’, it’s quite special.

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A race with a history, the Marathon des Sables dates back to 1984 when Patrick Bauer, aged 28, ventured into the Sahara to traverse solo a 350km journey with a pack weighing 35kg. It was an ultimate self-sufficient expedition that lasted 12-days.

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Inspired by the experience, in 1986 the first edition was created, just 23-pioneers embarked on what must have been ‘the ultimate’ expedition. Who would have thought those formative years would have laid the foundations for what is, without question, the father of multiple day racing. The race has had memorable moments; in ‘1991’ the Gulf drama had an impact on the race, ‘1994’ the arrival of Doc Trotters, ‘1995’ the 10th anniversary, ‘1996’ Mohamed Ahansal participates for the first time, ‘1997’ Lahcen Ahansal wins his first MDS one of many),  ‘2000’ internet arrives in the Sahara, ‘2001’ the ‘long’ day exceeds 70km, ‘2002’ a week of sandstorms and wind, ‘2009’ flooding at the MDS, ‘2010’ the 25th edition and finally, in ‘2013’, solar energy arrives in bivouac. What does ‘2014’ hold for us…?

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Results recap

2013

  1. 1. Mohamad Ahansal (MAR) 18:59:35
  2. 2. Salameh Al Aqra (JOR) 00:41:40 deficit
  3. 3. Miguel Capo Soler (ESP) 1:19:56 deficit
  1. 4. Meghan Hicks (USA) 24:42:01
  2. 5. Joanna Meek (UK) 00:00:59 deficit
  3. 6. Zoe Salt (UK) 02:21:57 deficit

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2014 Preview

Ladies

2013 female winner, Meghan Hicks unfortunately will not return to the Sahara this year. Meghan would have loved nothing more than to defend her title, however, Meghan has received an injury and has had no other option but to retire; a real shame.

Laurence Klein

Laurence Klein

Jo Meek and Zoe Salt will not return, this leaves the floodgates open for 2011 and 2012 champion, Laurence Klein (Fra) to return and dominate the race. Laurence dropped from the 2013 edition of the race with dehydration whilst in the lead. I have no doubts, Laurence will return, 1-year wiser, 1-MDS wiser and with lessons learnt. Laurence raced at Gruissan Phoebus Taril 50km in February this year and won, in the process, she also placed 20th overall. She’s in form!

Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball (USA) looks to be the hot US replacement for Meghan Hicks and I have no doubt that this formidable lady can push Laurence all the way to the line. It’s a showdown that I am really looking forward to watching unfold. Nikki returned to Western States in 2013 and placed 2nd, she was also 2nd at Run Rabbit Run 100-miler… would you like to bet against her? *UTWT entrant

Simone Kayser from Luxemburg has 3-MDS (2002, 2004 and 2005) victories and returns in 2014. With past experience, knowledge of multi-day racing and an understanding of the Sahara, Simone will also test the podium positions. However, her current form is unknown.

Men

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Salameh Al Aqra and Mohamad Ahansal have battled ‘royal’ in the dunes of the Sahara for years. In 2009, Ahansal won, Al Aqra was 3rd, in 2010 it was Ahansal 1st, Al Aqra 2nd, 2011 Ahansal placed 2nd and Al Aqra 3rd, 2012 Al Aqra took honours relegating Ahansal to bridesmaid, however, last year, Ahansal once again regained his crown with Al Aqra chasing the locals heals. Both return in 2014 and based on past records you have to tip Ahansal with his 5-victories and 9-second places to dominate once again.

Mohammed Ahansal

Mohamad Ahansal

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Salameh Al Aqra

Rachid El Moriaty won in the race in 2011 and in doing so placed Ahansal in 2nd by just 7-minutes. He’d do well to repeat that performance.

Miguel Capo Soler is arguably the hot prospect to place Mohammed and Salameh under pressure, his 2013 3rd place will without doubt have ignited a fire and a desire within him to take his performance one step further and move up one notch on the podium and if all goes well, two notches to reign supreme.

Carlos sa

Carlos sa

Carlos Sa, 4th in the 2013 edition will do all he can to infiltrate the podium and if his form is good, he may very well upset the front of the race. His 2013 season was quite spectacular, in particular, his win at Badwater a highlight and his 4th at the 2012 TNFUTMB establishes him as ‘hot’ for the podium at the 29th edition. *UTWT entrant

Miguel Heras certainly is a surprise entrant for MDS and I guess this is a significance of the *UTWT flexing its muscle and introducing runners who we would not normally see at a multi-day race. This is a good thing! However, Miguel had to withdraw from Transgrancanaria with injury issues and I am not sure currently his status? Should he race he will without doubt bring an interesting dynamic to the race. When in form, he is world class and one of the best ultra runners in the world, Miguel has proved this time and time again and is 2nd place at the 2013 TNFUTMB proves this. I hope he’s fit, firing on all cylinders and ready to bring his ‘A’ race to the Sahara.

Danny Kendall

Danny Kendall

UK hopes are in the legs and lungs of Danny Kendall. A ‘regular’ at the MDS, Danny has consistently worked hard on his training, racing strategy and in in 2013 he placed 10th overall, the best ever performance by a Brit. The podium may well be out of reach but anything higher than 9th will be something to celebrate and embrace.

Cyril Cointre also takes a *UTWT place and will be a potential force at the front of the race. Cyril placed 8th at Transgrancanaria and 11th and HK100 in the last 2-months. Will he be recovered.

Wild card may well be Abdelkader El Mouaziz who has 13 sub 2:10 marathons! He hasn’t run the MDS before and that speed may well transfer well to the dunes and terrain of the Sahara, however, one has to wonder what if? Mouaziz won London Marathon in 1999 and 2001; in addition, he also won New York in 2000 and Madrid in 1994. He may well be nowhere near his glory days but Mouaziz is an exciting addition to the 29th edition.

Who else to watch:

Christophe Le eaux

Christophe Le Seaux

Marco Olmo

Marco Olmo

Christophe Le Saux – 9th at MDS 2013

Marco Olmo – 13th at MDS 2013

Anything can happen and without doubt, 2014 will throw up some surprises and names that we have never heard of before. 2013 was no different and that is what makes this sport so exciting and exhilarating.

What does the 2014 course look like?

Leg No.1 – Sunday 6 April

We get straight to the point and attack hard with a good fifteen kilometers or so of dunes in total on this first leg. Our imagination transports us into the shoes of British explorer, Sir Wilfred Thesiger, or to the very core of superb cinema, which were a wonder to us all!

Leg No.2 – Monday 7 April

This is coloured by fields of dunettes on the mountainside and a vast reg plateau, where the marathon runners will be able to really show what they’re made of at over 16km/hr. An abandoned adobe village, a dried-up lake crossing, a small erg with some beautiful dunes, an extensive plateau of black rock, the negotiation of a remote village and a djebel climb will make up the varied menu of this long second leg, where managing ones effort will take on its full meaning.

Leg No.3 – Tuesday 8 April

After 8km of running on fair terrain, the sand will put in an appearance again prior to a djebel ascent where a fabulous erg can be perceived at the bottom of the valley. There the runners will again negotiate some high dunes to make CP2, from where they will discover an ancient town, in ruins and perched on a hill, before making the night’s bivouac.

Leg No.4 (referred to as the long leg or the 80) – Wednesday 9 / Thursday 10 April

An ultra flat plateau running along a series of dunettes will form today’s backdrop before the runners traverse a wadi and hopefully get a bird’s eye view of the desert from up high after a tough little climb of around thirty-minutes. The landscape is truly breathtaking! Once you make it to the valley, you can make out a fabulous little erg followed by vast plateaus and a succession of djebels. The images here are strikingly beautiful and herald the discovery of an impressive sandy valley. Here, a laser beam will guide runners surprised by the cover of darkness. Participants will then link onto terrain dotted with crevasses before traversing a long, winding, sandy wadi and finally the bivouac. It will be important to follow the markers!

Leg No.5 (Marathon leg) – Friday 11 April

A long plateau of black reg will lead the runners into the ‘Out of Africa’ valley before they link onto a mountainous path, which will guide them to the bottom of a deep wadi. It’s a place where a number of villagers have taken up residence along this dried up river in which the palm trees are kings and agriculture is the only resource. A vast plateau peppered with dunes and dunettes will lead the competitor to the bivouac in this final timed leg.

Leg No.6 (the solidarity leg) – Saturday 12 April

As they make for the small village that will play host to the final finish destination, the competitors, sponsors and families that form the caravan will be able to appreciate the beauty and softness of the landscape in the ambience of closeness and sharing that is synonymous with this UNICEF leg (which supports projects benefiting disadvantaged children). For the majority of participants, this walk gives them time to reflect on this beautiful human adventure and collectively realize their accomplishments before getting back to civilization.

Links:

Follow the 2014 Marathon des Sables on www.iancorless.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/talkultra and on Twitter @talkultra

Updates will be posted daily as and when possible based on wifi connection and gps. Please be patient. I will do all I can to upload images and daily reports.

Info:

*UTWTIn 2013, the event became part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour Series, which groups together the major Ultra Trail races across all the different continents. The MARATHON DES SABLES will represent Africa in this circuit, where the distance (at least 100km), the site, the participation (at least 500 at the start), the internationality (at least 20 nations) and the length of existence (at least two editions) determines which events are selected. Beyond these sporting criteria, moral and ethical values, sporting equity, respect for oneself and others, as well as a respect for the environment, must be brought to the fore. Such values have always been conveyed by the MARATHON DES SABLES. 10 races, 5 continents, 150 global elite athletes… the Ultra-Trail® World Tour 2014 draws together the superlatives to provide the biggest number of runners with a world tour of the most prestigious races off the beaten track. Indeed, through their specific features, the #UTWT races illustrate the true diversity of the trail. Their sporting formats call for participants to have a real ability to adapt. As such you need a range of very different qualities to be a contender for victory! The MARATHON DES SABLES, the 4th leg of the 2014 tour, ranks among the ‘series’ races. As such, the number of points won in this event is increased, which makes it a decisive race in the bid for the #UTWT 2014 champion’s title. Participating in the Ultra-Trail® World Tour gives everyone a chance to discover unique cultural and sporting features. All the continents will be visited: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. So many opportunities to enrich one’s sporting culture, to create new friendships and to feed on emotions and perhaps, one day, be a ‘finisher’ in every one of the events!

 

Vibram® Hong Kong 100 2014 – Race Preview

Hong Kong 100 Logo

The Hong Kong 100 course starts in Pak Tam Chung on the east side of Hong Kong’s New Territories and winds its way west along coastal paths, across beaches, through ancient villages, over hills and through valleys before finishing after the descent of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak (at 957m). The 100km journey climbs over 4,500m and much of the climbing is in the second half of the course.

Hong Kong 100

The first race in the new UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) will have many eyes upon it as this new series starts. The announcement of the UTWT at the 2013 TNFUTMB gained very mixed responses from those who attended the press conference. I for one questioned the inclusion of races like Marathon des Sables and Western States. However, although the initial press conference left many question marks, the UTWT have progressed and started to assemble not only a solid of list of races but also an ever expanding list of racers who will take part. In real terms, runners who are looking to participate in the UTWT series of events are currently limited. If we look at HK100 this ultimately comes down to: Dave Mackey, Jez Bragg, Francesca Canepa, Lizzy Hawker and some members of the WAA Team. However, a series must start somewhere and the next race in New Zealand, Tarawera, will see a more international runners and ever expansive field. It will be interesting to see how UTWT progresses.

Hong Kong 100 course_profile

So let’s look at the action for Hong Kong 100

Participant list – HERE

1608 runners are listed for the 2014 edition of the race with a very strong contingent from running8.com and Vibram. As you can image, going through the list, many names are unknown to me, so, if I have missed a ‘local’ runner to the Hong Kong race scene that may well show a presence at the front, please let me know and provide some additional stats.

Below I have listed the ‘key’ runners in alphabetical order.

Fabrice Armand (Salomon) –  Has raced well at the Dodo Trail 50k placing 2nd and 3rd in 2011 he placed 10th at Diagonale des Fous however recent results are a little sparse.

Vajin Armstrong (Macpac)  Had a great 2013 with 2nd 2013 Kepler Challenge, 2nd at Swiss Alpine Marathon 2013, 2nd at TNF 100 Australia, 3rd at Tarawera. He did race at TNFUTMB but that didn’t quite go to plan. Without doubt HK100 will suit Vajin. Expect to see him up front.

Pascal Blanc (Hoka) 3rd at Mafate Trail Tour, 3rd at Diagonale des Fous, 5th at Extreme Dodo Trail has all the required skills and ability to race well at HK100. Certainly the race profile in the latter stages will suit him and his Diagonale des Fous experience will be invaluable.

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Jez Bragg (TNF)  this time last year was running from the top-to-the-bottom of New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail. His 2013 season was very much influenced by his ability to recover from such a supreme effort. However, Jez did place 11th at UTMB and 17th Cortina Trail. Jez decided to miss TNF50 in December which was probably a wise move. Pretty sure Jez will be focused on doing well here.

Francesca Canepa - Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa – Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa (Montura-Vibram) One of my runners of 2013. Francesca is just an animal and I mean that in the nicest way. Francesca not only races a lot (maybe too much?) but she also knows how to win. Without doubt she likes races that are tough, technical and involve lots of climbing. The latter half of HK100 will suit Francesca and most certainly, as other ladies fade with the effort, Francesca will just be getting warmed up! Expect her to release a supreme effort in the latter 30% of the race. After checkpoint 8 she will move up embracing Needle Hill, Grassy Hill and the finish at Tai Mo Shan. Her results from 2013 speak volumes: 1st Andorra Ultra Trail, 1st Tor des Geants, 1st Trail de Vulcain, 1st Eiger Trail, 3rd Ice Trail Tarentaise, 4th UROC. Hot favourite!

Cyril Cointre (WAA) Cyril has some great results and he may very well show a presence in the top-10 if he has a good day? His 2013 results are significant: 1st Ultra Trail du Vercors, 1st Defi de L’Oisans, 3rd at Ultra-Trail du Pay Mary Aurillac, 9th at UTMF, 8th Transgrancanaria.

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Vincent Delebarre (WAA) had a mixed 2013. Top drawer performance at Ice Trail Tarentaise and then mixed performances at other races. I got to see him up close at MDS and UTMB and on both occasions he had some real tough patches. However, he came out the other end and survived. He has the potential of a good race at HK100; it’s just difficult to predict. 2013 results: 3rd at Ultra Trail Atlas Toubaki, 1st Le Quecha Tour de Fiz, 8th Ice Trail Tarentaise, 31st at MDS and 145th at UTMB

Antoine Guillon (WAA) Without doubt will like the HK100 course. Another quality performance at Diagonale des Fous and his 2nd place at TDS set him up well for the HK100. Like Francesca Canepa, I expect to see Antoine remain strong in the latter stages of the race, so, expect to see hime work up through the field. Results: 2nd behind Kilian Jornet at Diagonale des Fous 2012 and 4th in the 2013 edition behind Francois d’Haene, 7th at UTMF and 2nd at TDS.

Scott Hawker (Hoka One One Australia) I don’t know much about Scott and his results are very much Southern Hemisphere based, so, it’s difficult for me to say how he will stack up against the competition. One to watch for sure… 2013 results: 1st at Six Inch Trail 46k, 5th at Great Ocean Walk 100km, 1st at Kep Track 100km, 1st at Truth of Consequences.

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Lizzy Hawker (TNF) Needs no introduction, in 2013 Lizzy was 1st Annapurna 100km, 1st Mt Everest 60km and 5th at Swiss Alpine Marathon, however, she was plagued by injury early in 2013, tried to get ready for UTMB and then got injured again. So, post August Lizzy had to recover and get well. Spending time in Morocco with Frosty, Lizzy then moved over to Nepal and has spent months in the mountains, walking and hinking but recently she has been back out running. Her form for the HK100 is unknown? It may very well be a first race back and a test, however, should Lizzy be in form, expect a great battle with Francesca Canepa and last years winner; Claire Price.

Ram Kumar Katri was 3rd at the 2013 HK100 and therefore must be a hot tip for this year’s race.

Olya Korzh (Salomon) placed 3rd in the ladies race at HK100 last year and also had some great results with a win at TMBT and 2nd at MSIG Sai Kung 50. Local knowledge will be a big advantage and of course her previous podium will provide her with confidence to race hard.

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Christophe Le Saux (WAA) races all over the world week-in and week-out, always in or around the front of the race you can expect him to do the same at HK100 but I don’t see him threatening top-3.  2013 results: 9th at MDS, 13th at UTMF and 16th at Transgrancanaria

Dave Mackey (Hoka One One) Arguably the big hitter at HK100. Dave is one of the best 100k runners around. Although he has performed well at the 100-mile distance (particularly WSER) he has never quite nailed the distance like the 100k. Dave was one of the very first runners to sign up for UTWT, so, not only will he be looking for a top performance at this race, he will also be looking for consistency in the series. 2013 results: 1st at Rodeo Valley 50k, 2nd Bandera 100km, 5th at Lake Sonoma and 8th at TNF50

Nerea Martinez (Salomon) like Francesca Canepa loves hard races. A definite contender for overall victory and without doubt a top-10 finisher should all go well. Another lady who races a great deal and I can’t help but think some performances are affected by this? In 2013, racing regularly served Nerea well: 1st Transgrancanaria, 1st UTAX, 1st royal Raid Mauritius, 2nd Tor des Geants and 2nd at UTAT. Impressive!

Fabrice Perrin (UTWT) gets a mention here, not because he will contest the front of the race but because he is the UTWT Manager. He has finishes in previous years at: UTMF, UTMB, CCC and Grand Raid des Pyrenees amongst others

Claire Price (Salomon) last years HK100 winner and new course record holder; a record previously held by Lizzy Hawker. Crtainly to have Lizzy, Claire and Francesca in the same race is very exciting. I just hope they are all in good form! Clare is a consistent performer has her 2013 results show:  1st 2013 atHK100, 2nd at TDS and 8th UTMF

Jeremy Ritcey (Salomon) has the potential to do well at HK100. In 2013 he was 2nd at Lantau 100, 5th at HK100 and 16th at TNF100. Experience is always a big factor in any race… I wonder if he can improve on 5th?

Cassie Scallon (Salomon) another USA entrant who had some excellent results in 2013. Her recent 5th place at TNF50 in December obviously means that she is in good shape. However, Cassie’s wins at Tussey Mountainback 50, Ice Trail 50 and in particular, Lake Sanoma 50 mean that she has great potential (and speed) to push all the other ladies. Another great sign is Cassie’s 8th place at Run Rabbit Run 100-miler proving she has endurance too.

Siu Keung Tsang (champion Sysyem Adventure Team) 2nd HK100 in2013 and1st Lantau 50 must be a hot tip for this years race. However, I was told by a friend that he may well be not 100% at the moment, so, we will have to see. In 2013 we expected ‘Stone’ to do well at UTMB, he placed 18th, so, the jury is out on how his 2014 HK100 will go.

Results 2013:

  1. YanQiao Yun 10:16:06
  2. Siu Keung Tsang 10:19:43
  3. Ram Kumar Katri 10:19:59
  1. Claire Price 11:58:04
  2. Chiaki Jjelddahl 13:04:10
  3. Olya Korzh 13:10:40
  • Race Dates:18th – 19th January
  • Cut off : 32-hours

Race website: HERE

Live tracking will be available during the event.  To track any participant’s progress on PCs, iPads and large tablet, use this link.  For smartphones, use this link.  For live tracking on google map, use this link.

For participants who would like Facebook updates of your arrival at each CP (except CP1) posted on your wall, please register by using this link.

TNFUTMB need points?

UTMB

Today the TNFUTMB organisation is going further by testing the creation of a mark, which will allow training courses to be a source of points, according to very strict criteria. This course is organised this year in partnership with WAA.

Qualifying courses with WAA

WAA, (What An Adventure), an enterprise which focuses on two activities: training and sports merchandise.

WAA Ultra Training has, for several years been organising courses in collaboration with, amongst others, Vincent Delebarre (winner if the UTMB®) for the mountains and Laurence Klein (multiple winner of the Marathon des Sables) for the desert…WAA Ultra Equipment offers ranges of products in the colours of the partner races such as Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®, the Marathon des Sables, or even the Eco-Trail de Paris.

This year the WAA, for  several years a partner with the  UTMB® are opening the way by setting up, under the aegis of the organisation, a new concept of training courses for preparation for the UTMB®, CCC®  or TDSTM valid for any long trail race which is run in the mountains.

The mountains as well as being beautiful can be hostile, difficult and changeable …The potential risks are numerous but it is possible to anticipate them when they were identified and when one is ready for them. So, the Ultra-Trail ® course will offer apart from a reconnaissance of the terrain, physical training and real ‘mountain’ environment training: “Safe” behaviour, good practise in respect for the environment, race management to optimise performance allowing the runner to be the key to his own safety.

Vincent Delebarre‘s testimony: “For 8 years I have organised around fifteen courses each summer which allow me to judge the physical condition and above all the knowledge of the activity and the participants’ environment. And there is still a lot to be done. The qualifying races show the level of experience relating to trail -running but for all that do not confer, the minimum  knowledge of good management and comportment in the mountains : knowing what to do, how to react in case of injury, or storms, how to help a wounded person in the cold or under the sun… These courses offer the training necessary for a trail runner to become autonomous because trail-running is not just simply running but also integrating into the surrounding environment.”

The courses earn up to 3 qualification points

The Ultra-Trail® courses allow for the possible acquisition of 3 qualifying points, validation average from both the leader and an external jury. But following the example of « Mont-Blanc courses » in the mountains (courses of 5 days preparation and acclimatisation aiming at the ascension of Mont-Blanc), the awarding of points, same as the arrival at the summit of Europe, is not guaranteed. Bad weather conditions, limited physical condition or insufficient technique can lead to an absence of points. Participation in the courses does not mean automatic acquisition of points.

For these courses in the absence of the idea of the competition, the physical and mental load imposed is equivalent to a trail-running event worth 3 points. To obtain this qualifying recognition, the level of these training courses is very high and the qualities required to participate in it are important: being capable of doing the UTMB ® route at the speed of the official time barriers, having the endurance required for each of 4 stages, of having a minimal experience of the Mountain environment…

As for their progress in stages, the notion is already known and used, since today certain big races with stages like the Marathon des Sables, the Défi de l’Oisans, the Annapurna Mandala Trail, the Desert Oman Raid, the Transrockies run or even the Grand to Grand Ultra… are qualifying and already carry points. Also the number of points from the Ultra-Trail®training courses is determined on the basis of the calculation which is currently used for these races and takes into account the kilometres, positive height gain, number of stages and their difficulty, the time barriers, etc.

Michel Poletti confirms that: « Having tested the courses lead by Vincent Delebarre has run for several years, they demand the physical and mental engagement which is as important as that of a race in stages. They carry a qualitative education on the practice of the trail-running in the mountains (effort management, learning to be autonomous, safety, and respect for the environment…). Beyond just training they can allow the acquisition of the necessary Mountain experience, just as much as by their participation in a race. ».

Training courses for a veritable preparation for trail-running races in the mountains

– Physical and mental preparation

·        170km around the massif of Mont-Blanc

·        9 500m of positive height gain

·        To be realised in 4 days at race speed

·        Around 10 or 12 hours of course each day, including refreshment stops

·        A section realised partially at night

·        Same equipment and rucksack packed as for the Ultra-Trail®

– A technical and tactical training

·        Management of the first hours of the race

·        Techniques : ascending, descending, with poles, without poles, supple running, managing walking/running

·        Management of refreshments

·        Managing long descents

·        Food management

·        Orientation tools and their use

·        Managing the night

·        Micro siestas

·        Equipment, clothing, tips, the pack

·        Diet

·        Training for very long trail races in the mountains

·        Knowing how to read the weather forecasts, adapting clothing and pack

– Raising awareness to the rules of the mountains

·        Life in a mountain hut

·        The dangers of the mountains and adequate reaction to them

·        Witness an accident: what should you do?

·        Taking the fragility of the locality into account

·        Cartography – altimeter

– With recognized technical leaders

·          Vincent Delebarre, high mountain guide, high calibre trail-runner, winner of the 2004 UTMB® 2004, course leader for several years and coordinator of the Ultra-Trail® courses.

·          Jean-Claude Marmier: founder of the Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne (GMHM), one of the pioneers of French and world mountaineering, several times finisher of the UTMB®, supervisor for the Ultra-Trail® courses.

·          Professional recognised mountain leaders and specialists in trail running

·          Specialist contributors: mountain security, experts in nutrition, training, environment, trail runners of high calibre, etc.

COURSE CONTENT

UTMB®

–         4 full days

–         4 stages – 165 km – 9 500 m of positive and negative height –

–         Up to 3 qualifying points

Logo WWA  STAGE 1 STAGE 2 STAGE 3 STAGE 4
Distance 42km 38km 43km 42km
Height gain 2 900m 2 300m 1 900m 2 400m
Height loss 1 400 m 2 700 m 2 700 m 2 800 m
Estimated time 11hrs 10hrs 10hrs 11hrs

CCC®

–         2 full days

–         2 stages – 100 km – 6 000 m of height gain and 6 150 m height loss –

–         Up to 2 qualifying points

Logo WWA  STAGE 1 STAGE 2
Distance 54km 46km
Height gain 3 255m 2 711m
Height loss 3 010m 3 140m
Estimated time 11hrs 10hrs

TDSTM

–         3 full days

–         3 stages – 119 km – 7 250 m of height gain and 7 450 m height loss –

–         Up to 2 qualifying points

Logo WWA  STAGE 1 STAGE  2 STAGE  3
Distance 36km 38km 45km
Height gain 2 524 m 2 364 m 2 372 m
Height loss 1 556 m 2 890 m 3 000 m
Estimated time 10h 9h 11h

A professional and economic dynamic

An information day « trail-running in the mountains » is being organised by the WAA, Vincent Delebarre and Jean-Claude Marmier with the aim of explaining the context of these courses, the stakes and the tolerated levels required by the leaders. It is aimed at, firstly, around ten mountain professionals who because they have the specific information, can supervise the Ultra-Trail® training courses.

The organisers are going even further, by imagining eventually a training which could deliver an additional and specific mention “mountain trail-running” for professional guides or leaders…who would like to organise courses themselves. A discussion is planned with the National School of Ski and Mountaineering to see if it is possible to envisage a collaboration for this training to become recognized speciality, and offered by the mountain careers sector.

Trail-running is today a rapidly expanding phenomenon which is generating an innovative energy urging the development of the discipline and all its players. It is the vector of an economy at every level offering mountain huts, municipalities, guides and race organisers very positive perspectives.

I would be really interested to hear your thoughts and comments on this?