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Event forums > African events > Marathon des Sables 2019 View modes: 
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SarahCrunning - 04/04/2019 23:59:26
   
Marathon des Sables 2019
This year's race kicks off on Sunday 7th April, but runners will be arriving in Morocco tomorrow (Friday) and undergoing essential briefings and checks on Saturday. As always, it looks likely to be a fantastic race this year.

This year is the 34th edition of MdS. Whilst claiming to be the 'toughest' race is never without controversy, the Discovery Channel did rate this one as 'The Toughest Footrace on Earth'.

MdS is a 6-stage, 7-day race across the Sahara Desert - one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth. The exact route and length of each stage varies each year, but it is approximately 250km/156 miles, with the long stage tending to be at least 50 miles.

This race is one of the few ultras to have made its way into the mainstream public eye. It attracts both elite and novice ultra runners - the competition at the sharp end is always fierce, but the cut-offs allow for runners of a range of abilities to take part in the adventure.

None of this means it is at all easy. Temperatures can climb higher than 50 degrees C, and runners will encounter salt plains, desert mountains and sand storms. Their feet will likely look like something from a horror movie by the end of the race. They are given a water ration and a tent at night. Beyond that, they must be completely self-sufficient and carry all their food, clothing and supplies.

Last year, Rachid El Morabity claimed his 6th victory, with little brother Mohamed finishing 2nd for the second time. Both are back this year and will face tough competition from runners such as Julien Chorier, Aziz El Akad and Merile Robert. Chorier is an MdS virgin, but El Akad has been in the top-5 seven times, and Robert finished 3rd last year.

In the women's field, it's great to see GB's Gemma Game back again - she took 3rd place last year. She has some tough competition - Trail World Champion Ragna Debats is making her MdS debut, and 2013 winner Meghan Hicks is back for more.

We'll be keeping track of the various stages, and RunUltra ambassador Susie Chan is on the media team and we'll be following her posts too.
Sarah Cooke

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SarahCrunning - 06/04/2019 22:52:56
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Tomorrow's Stage 1 starts at 9am local time and is 32.2km. That is also 9am UK time.
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SarahCrunning - 07/04/2019 15:45:36
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Stage 1 is complete with victories for Rachis El Morabity and Ragna Debats. Once again, Mohamed El Morabity was right behind his brother, finishing less than a minute and half later. Ragna had a 25 minute lead over the other women.

These were the top 3 men and women today Moroccan runners on home turf took 4 of the top spots.

MEN - Stage 1
1. Rachid El Morabity (Morocco) - 2:19:00
2. Mohamed El Morabity (Morocco) - 2:20:28
3. Abdelaziz Baghazza (Morocco) - 2:22:58

WOMEN - Stage 1
1. Ragna Debats (Netherlands) - 2:42:24
2. Aziza Raji (Morocco) - 3:07:58
3. Laurence Klein (France) - 3:12:56

We'll be looking out for further details on the news from Stage 1 this evening.
Sarah Cooke

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SarahCrunning - 07/04/2019 19:26:47
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Some additional info from Stage 1 thanks to Ian Corless:

Rachid and Mohamed pushed the pace at the front from the start, with Rachid pulling ahead in the final km. Similarly, Ragna dominated the women's race from the outset despite being new to self-sufficient racing and the MdS.

Tomorrow's Stage 2 is 32.5km, including the challenging Merzouga Dunes.
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SarahCrunning - 08/04/2019 15:17:51
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Stage 2 is complete. Once again, Ragna Debats won the women's race with a commanding lead. Again, the men's race was much closer. Rachid and Mohamed led together from the start. This time it was Mohamed who was just 6 seconds ahead and won the stage. These were the top 3 men and women:

MEN - Stage 2
1. Mohamed El Morabity - 2:52:30
2. Rachid El Morabity - 2:52:36
3. Abdelkader El Mouaziz (Morocco) - 2:56:14

WOMEN
1. Ragna Debats - 3:14:22
2. Meghan Hicks (USA) - 3:59:00
3. Aziza Raji - 4:05:32
Sarah Cooke

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SarahCrunning - 08/04/2019 18:46:32
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Further Stage 2 details thanks to Ian Corless:

The dunes are usually used in the charity stage rather than the timed stages and are seen as being incredibly tough. Ragna was leading the entire race at an early stage and the other women never got close. Both Meghan Hicks and Gemma Game (4th today) had better days than yesterday.

In the men's race, the leader changed several times in the early stages - Julien Chorier, Merile Robert and others all took their turn. Mohamed and Rachid showed their mettle in the dunes and took the lead, staying together until Mohamed edged ahead to be first over the line.

Sarah Cooke

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SarahCrunning - 09/04/2019 15:28:04
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Today's Stage 3 consisted of 37.1km. Aside from the brilliant performances of the runners, the main news is that a dog who followed runners at the end of Stage 2 has today run the entire Stage 3 distance with them. Our editor is on the case to get the story your way!

Ragna was the clear winner of the women's race yet again - she seems unstoppable. It's also great to see Gemma Game in the top 3 again (she was 3rd last year). Rachid El Morabity won his second stage. Mohamed was just over a minute behind today and only 5 seconds ahead of Abdelaziz Baghazza. These were the top 3 men and women:

MEN - Stage 3
1. Rachid El Morabity - 2:58:45
2. Mohamed El Morabity - 3:00:01
3. Abdelaziz Baghazza - 3:00:06

WOMEN - Stage 3
1. Ragna Debats - 3:35:54
2. Aziza Raji - 4:03:37
3. Gemma Game (Great Britain) - 4:11:56

Tomorrow is the long stage. Is the dog up to it?
Sarah Cooke

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SarahCrunning - 09/04/2019 19:03:17
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Further details from Stage 3 via Ian Corless:

Rachid and Julien Chorier took an early lead on the fast, hard packed ground, with Ragna in the group behind them as first female. Mohamed began to close the gap through a dune section and Ragna continued to dominate the women's race.

Rachid pushed to open up a lead on Mohamed and Abdelaziz towards the end of the stage. Ragna was almost 30-minutes ahead of the other women, with Gemma getting stronger and coming a close third to Aziza.

Tomorrow is the long stage. The men's race is still relatively close, and the second and third women's places could easily change.

The dog has been named Cactus and is first in his category :-)
Sarah Cooke

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SarahCrunning - 10/04/2019 16:50:33
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Today's long stage is 76.3km, and participants have up to 31 hours to complete it. It looks like Ragna took an early lead again in the women's race, but no recent progress updates. Cactus the dog seems to have started Stage 4 too!
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SarahCrunning - 10/04/2019 19:20:46
   
RE:Marathon des Sables 2019
Quentin Gaudilliere was the first runner to finish the long stage. However, the top 50 started nearly 3 hours after the other runners. Amongst the frontrunners, Mohamed El Morabity was first into CP4 - 1 minute ahead of Rachid. Antonio Alongi was third.

Ragna was the first female into CP4. At CP 3, Aziza Raji was second and Gemma Game third.
Sarah Cooke

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