Marathon des Sables
Marathon des Sables, or MdS, (French for Marathon of the Sands, also known as Sahara Marathon) is a six-day, 251 km (156 mi) ultramarathon, which is approximately the distance of six regular marathons. The longest single stage (2009) is 91 km (57 mi) long.
This multiday race is held every year in southern Morocco, in the Sahara Desert. It has been called the toughest foot race on Earth. The first event of the Marathon started in 1986.
The marathon was the brainchild of French concert promoter Patrick Bauer who in 1984 traversed the Sahara desert on foot and alone. He covered 350 km (214 mi) in 12 days without encountering a single oasis or desert community along the way. Two years later in 1986 the first Marathon des Sables was run. Twenty-three runners participated in the race with Bernard Gaudin and Christiane Plumere, both of France, finishing as the winning man and woman. By 2009 over 1,000 runners participated in the event and the Solidarité Marathon des Sables association was created. The aim is to develop projects to assist children and disadvantaged populations in the domains of health, education and sustainable development in Morocco.
In 2017, two new Marathon des Sables events will take place for the first time: the Half Marathon des Sables on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands in September, and another full-length Marathon des Sables event in Peru in November.
|Edition||Year||Male winner||Nationality||Female Winner||Nationality||Notes|
|1er MDS||1986||Bernard Gaudin||France||Christiane Plumere||France|
|2e MDS||1987||Hassan Sebtaoui||France||Marie-Ange Malcuit||France|
|3e MDS||1988||Bernard Gaudin||France||Ange Malcuit||France|
|4e MDS||1989||Hassan Sebtaoui||France||Claude Battistelli||France|
|5e MDS||1990||Hassan Sebtaoui||France||Claire Garnier||France|
|6e MDS||1991||Hassan Sebtaoui||France||Monique Frussote||France|
|7e MDS||1992||Mohamed Bensalah||Morocco||Monique Frussote||France||First Moroccan man to win|
|8e MDS||1993||Mohamed Bensalah||Morocco||Irina Petrovna||Russia|
|9e MDS||1994||André Derksen||Russia||Valentina Liakhov||Russia|
|10e MDS||1995||André Derksen||Russia||Béatrice Reymann||France|
|11e MDS||1996||André Derksen||Russia||Anke Molkenthin||Germany|
|12e MDS||1997||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Rosanna Pellizzari||Italy|
|13e MDS||1998||Mohamad Ahansal||Morocco||Rosanna Pellizzari||Italy|
|14e MDS||1999||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Lisa Smith||United States|
|15e MDS||2000||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Pascal Martin||France|
|16e MDS||2001||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Franca Fiacconi||Italy|
|17e MDS||2002||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Simone Kayser||Luxembourg|
|18e MDS||2003||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Magali Juvenal||France|
|19e MDS||2004||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Simone Kayser||Luxembourg|
|20e MDS||2005||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Simone Kayser||Luxembourg|
|21e MDS||2006||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Géraldine Courdesse||France|
|22e MDS||2007||Lahcen Ahansal||Morocco||Laurence Fricotteaux||France|
|23e MDS||2008||Mohamad Ahansal||Morocco||Touda Didi||Morocco||First Moroccan woman to win|
|24e MDS||2009||Mohamad Ahansal||Morocco||Touda Didi||Morocco|
|25e MDS||2010||Mohamad Ahansal||Morocco||Mònica Aguilera Viladomiu||Spain||First Spaniard to win|
|26e MDS||2011||Rachid El Morabity||Morocco||Laurence Klein||France|
|27e MDS||2012||Salameh Al Aqra||Jordan||Laurence Klein||France|
|28e MDS||2013||Mohamad Ahansal||Morocco||Meghan Hicks||United States|
|29e MDS||2014||Rachid El Morabity||Morocco||Nikki Kimball||United States|
|30e MDS||2015||Rachid El Morabity||Morocco||Elisabet Barnes||Sweden|
|31e MDS||2016||Rachid El Morabity||Morocco||Natalia Sedykh||Russia|
|32e MDS||2017||Rachid El Morabity||Morocco||Elisabet Barnes||Sweden|
- Moroccan brothers Lahcen and Mohamad Ahansal, who won 10 and 6 editions respectively.
- Marco Olmo, Italian ultratrail specialist, ran all editions since 1996, with best placement 3rd (achieved three times). At the 2013 edition, Olmo was 64 years old, and he was 47 when he ran his first.
- Dima and Lama Hattab, Jordanian twins who were the first female Middle Eastern participants in the race.
- James Cracknell, British rower and adventurer, competed in the 2010 race and became the highest placing Briton to ever compete in the race, finishing 12th until fellow Briton Danny Kendall placed 5th in 2014. In 2017 Tom Evans became the first Briton to podium, finishing third overall.
- In 1994 René Nevola, Mike Stroud, Mike Lean and Richard Cooper became the first British runners to complete the Marathon des Sables. René Nevola was the first Briton to complete the race and finished in 22nd place.
- Mauro Prosperi, former Olympian from Sicily, entered the race in 1994 but was set 299 km off route by a harsh sand storm. He was lost for ~11 days before being found in Algeria, following a well-publicized search of the desert.
- In 1999 Carlos Sposito was the first Brazilian to complete the Marathon des Sables.
- Sir Ranulph Fiennes became the oldest Briton to complete the Marathon des Sables in 2015. In doing so he raised over £1million for Marie Curie.
- James Matthews, married to Pippa Middleton, competed in the marathon in 2008.
- Luis Enrique Martínez García (Spanish pronunciation: [lwis enˈrike]; born 8 May 1970), known as Luis Enrique, is a Spanish former professional footballer, and the former manager of FC Barcelona, he completed the marathon in 2008.
- Gavin Sandford completed two Marathons des Sables in 2016, running the 2011 course alone and then immediately joining the start of the 2016 course, so completing 300 miles on foot in 12 days 
- Duncan Slater was the first double amputee to finish the Marathon des Sables in 2017.
- Ted Archer: Carved by god, cursed by the devil – a true story of running the Sahara Desert. Redwood City CA, University of Dreams Foundation 2009. Template:ISBN
- Patrick Bauer ... [et al.]: Le Marathon des Sables. Paris, SPE (Société de production éditoriale) 2000. Template:ISBN (English version by David Waldron).
- John Bonallak: The desert run. Wellington, New Zealand, Learning Media Ltd. 1999. Template:ISBN.
- Steve Cushing: 24th Marathon des Sables – a competitor's tale. Leicester UK, Matador 2010, Template:ISBN.
- Guy Giaoui; Foued Berahou: Ultramarathon stage racing - from our experiences of the Marathon des Sables, the Trans Aq', and other races - a practical guide. St-Genest-Malifaux, Raidlight 2008. Template:ISBN.
- Mark Hines: The Marathon des Sables - seven days in the Sahara - enduring the toughest footrace on earth. London, Health Body Publishing 2007. Template:ISBN (hbk.). Template:ISBN (pbk. 2010).
- Monika Nicolle: Histoire d'un Marathon des Sables – 245 kilomètres dans le désert... Paris, Éditions de l'Onde 2010. Template:ISBN.
- Eddy Poirier: Vaincre soi-même : Marathon des Sables! Toute une histoire. [S.l.], Glob 2009. Template:ISBN.
- Pierre-Emmanuel Rastoin: Regard sur le Marathon des Sables : 2004/06. Biarritz, SAI 2007. Template:ISBN.
- Herbert Meneweger: Marathon des Sables - die Grenze ist, wo die Vorstellungskraft endet - der härteste Marathonlauf der Welt, 243 Kilometer durch die Sahara. Anthering AUT, Meneweger 2003. Template:ISBN.
- Mike Stroud OBE. (re-issued 2004). Survival Of The Fittest: Understanding Health and Peak Physical Performance. Template:ISBN
- Dr Dan Tunstall Pedoe: Marathon Medicine. 2001, page 186. Template:ISBN.
- Official website of the Marathon des Sables
- Official website for UK Entrants
- Pictures of the Marathon des Sables from Rob Plijnaar, competitor in 2008
- Documentary on the 14th Marathon des Sables by Les Guthman