Amazing race 4 – Marathon des Sables
The Marathon des Sables (‘Marathon of the Sands’) is the world’s toughest foot race. This ‘ultramarathon’ – the equivalent of about six normal marathons – takes competitors 156 miles (251 km) through the Sahara desert in southern Morocco. It takes place in March-April each year.
Not only do competitors have to battle with dry, 50-degree heat, the snakes, the brutal distance and the basic difficulty of actually running on sand and rocks – they also have to carry all their own food and belongings. The organisers supply water and tents, which is thoughtful of them.
One of the biggest challenges for competitors in this Sahara marathon is staying on the course when a sandstorm whips up. Sicilian police officer and reserve Olympic athlete Mauro Prosperi learned this to his peril – he was lost for nine days during the 1994 marathon. His food ran out after 36 hours so he survived by drinking his own urine and eating snakes and bats that he found in an abandoned mosque.
Unwilling to endure the agony of a slow death, Prosperi tried to slit his wrists, only to discover that dehydration had caused his blood to thicken and it clotted too quickly for him. He was eventually found several hundred miles into Algeria by a nomadic family, who took him to hospital, where he recovered.
The Marathon des Sables is not just about surviving though – Lahcen Ahansal, pictured above, thrives on the desert marathon. He has won it 10 times.
Pics from the race organiser’s website