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Rachid looking relaxed before stage 1. Photo credit: Rachid El Morabity.

Marathon des Sables 2016 Stage 1

10-Apr-16

By Alice Morrison

They call it the toughest footrace on earth and there is no doubt that the Marathon des Sables has a real mystique to it – an ability to capture our imaginations.

Stage one set off this morning just after 9am BST with their ears ringing from one of Race Director, Patrick Bauer’s, legendary speeches given from atop a 4x4.

The first thing to face them was a nice stretch of dunes, 12 kilometres of them to be exact. No matter how often the non-Moroccan competitors have run up and down sand in their home countries, those first dunes under the early heat of the sun ALWAYS come as a shock. It seemed like a long way for some to CP1 at the end of them.

The elites were up and through, but longer queues formed as runners found purchase behind them.
Stony, more rugged ground followed with a fantastic photo opportunity at the village of M’Fiss. Just a couple of kilometres after that was CP2.

Then over rocky ground and to end up with, yes you’ve guessed it, a tasty four kilometres of dunes to make the legs really sting at the end of the day.

Today’s stage was 34km long, easing the runners in to that big day later in the week.

No surprises in the lead in the male field, Rachid El Morabity, multi-MdS champion, and super-cool guy, came in first. Just behind him was Hammou Moudouji closely followed by Abdel Kader El Mouaziz. Moroccan domination on their home turf!

Elisabet Barnes entered the race as the favourite but was beaten today by Russian runner, Natalia Sadykh, who looked very strong.

Problems with the MdS server meant that live tracking was down for most of the day, but they are looking to fix it for tomorrow.

We are following live on Twitter @runultra_uk #mdsrunultra and also posting pictures and news on Facebook. If you want us to give a shout out to anyone, let us know.

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