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Photo credit: Hope So Bright.

MdS Champion to take on Badwater

23-Jun-16

Last updated: 01-Sep-16

By Alice Morrison

Mohamad Ahansal (Morocco), who has won the toughest footrace on earth, the Marathon Des Sables, five times and come in second ten times, is taking on the infamous Badwater, July 18 -20th. His latest win was the Silk Road Ultra Marathon in Iran earlier this year.

The race is 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA. The STYR Labs Badwater 135 is the most demanding and extreme one-stage running race offered anywhere on the planet, and Ahansal has a great track record from MdS, the toughest footrace on the planet. The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level and boasts some of the hottest temperatures in the world. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m). The Badwater 135 course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent.

Ahansal is a Berber from the desert town of Zagora in Morocco. He is used to running in severe heat and altitude across the high Atlas Mountains, but he says, he is still wary of Badwater. “Yes! In a way it was a crazy decision to sign up. It is almost the same distance, but the Marathon des Sables takes six days and Badwater is non-stop. I have never run this far in one go. Yes, the temperature will be the same, but the quality of the sun will be different. The altitude, the humidity and the difference between the desert plain and the mountains are all factors. At the start it is going to be very dry with lots of heat coming up from the ground as well, and then by the end, you’re at high altitude. This is the difficulty!

Another factor is that the month of Ramadan from June through July. During this month, like all Muslims, Ahansal has been fasting (no food or water/drinks) for 18 hours a day. He has continued his training though, timing sessions to end just before Ftour – the breaking of the fast around 19:45. He says it makes him stronger.

Ahansal will be running as an Ambassador for Hope So Bright to raise awareness of Autism. Millions of children world wide are diagnosed with the disorder and Hope So Bright, through their running team I Run 4 Hope, are publicizing the issue and looking at different ways to treat the symptoms and root causes of the syndrome.

Last year the USA triumphed with a stunning run by Pete Kostelnick. Will it be the turn of an African this year?

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