MARATHON DES SABLES MOROCCO 2018 (6-16APR/250km): PROGRAM AND FAVORITES El Morabity, Grinius, Huaman, Huser, Boulet, Watson and more…

 

The Marathon des Sables magic as an ultratrail comes not really from the challeng of finishing, since every edition sees home around 90% of the entries, way above the usual 60-70% ratios of truly demanding ultras all over the world. Sables is more about shared camaraderie under the desert skies, a personal experience for all involved, that sure enough does not com cheap to anyboy, neither in terms of the week of endurance involved nor in the highly expensive tag to enter the race.

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Our live coverage will b carried out from inside the race by our runner-reporter Alex Fraguela. A veteran ultrarunner based at the Canaries who tested himself at the Half Marathon des Sables Furteventura and finished among top5. alex will now share the race through his yes with us on a daily basis here in english and also at our sister website CARRERASDEMONTANA.COM in spanish.

 

Alex Fraguela at HMDS Fuerteventura.

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MARATHON DES SABLES 2018 MOROCCO: THE PROGRAM. 

This event will once again be held at the Moroccan Sahara, Ouarzazate region, as a desert ultra-trail in food self-sufficiency condition, covering 6 stages, approximately 250 km. The race has attracted more than 20,000 participants since 1986, with over 1,000 competitors expected in 2018

• 6 April: Competitors arrive in Morocco
• 7 April: Inspections day
• 8, 9 and 10 April: First, second and third stages
• 11 and 12 April: Long stage (4th stage)
• 13 April: Marathon stage, last competitive stage
• 14 April: ‘SOLIDARITÉ MARATHON DES SABLES’ stage
• 15 April: Free day
• 16 April: Competitors return to their home countries

 

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MARATHON DES SABLES 2018 MOROCCO: THE FAVORITES.

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Even if the head of the race will swallow the 250-km course in less than 20 hours at an average speed of 13 km/h, we can also talk about the performance of the walkers who will spend nearly 80 hours walking in the desert under 45°C, and we can of course mention some performance athletes such as Didier BENGUIGUI (D0060-FRA), a blind competitor who will find his way in the desert thanks to the help of his guide and nephew Fabrice ZARKA (D0061-FRA), novice on the MDS. Each competitor goes to the Sahara with his own story, and each story that is written in the desert is a performance in itself. See you on Sunday to discover the prelude to this new chapter in the history of the MDS. On the 33rd MARATHON DES SABLES, the elite runners’ group have a big favourite in both the men’s and women’s categories. But anything can happen on such an event, and the fight to reach the podium will be hard.

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MDS Women’s Top 4

  • Natalia SEDYKH (D0220-RUS): the big favourite of this 33rd edition is Russian. Third in 2015 and victorious in 2016, she has shown unfailing determination. “I prefer not to talk about my plans before the finish line – less talking, more action.” It should be noted that at 30, she is the youngest in the female elite runners’ group.
  • Andrea HUSER (D1017-SUI): the Swiss has never run in the desert, but in the mountains, she is a real queen. Besides her lack of experience on the MDS, she has a weak point: she works like a “diesel” engine, it takes her tens and tens of kilometres before she finds her pace. So she remains cautious: “I wanted to see and experience the Sahara desert; my goal is to finish the race, and for the rest we’ll see.”
  • Magdalena BOULET (D1019-USA): she loves heat and long distances. She has won many 50- and 100–mile races, including the mythical Western States in the United States, but this will be her first MDS: “My primary goal is to finish, of course, but I am a competitor at heart and I would love to finish on the podium.”
  • Anna Marie WATSON (D0293-GBR): second on the MDS in 2015, winner of the first edition of the HALF MDS FUERTEVENTURA last year, she is certainly less performant than Andrea and Magdalena, but she has more experience in this type of race.
  • Other aspirants: Jax MARIASH (D0946-USA) won several desert stage races but never took part in the MDS; Gemma GAME (D0433-GBR) finished fourth in 2015; Bouchra ERIKSEN (D0008-DEN) will discover the MDS but has already done well in local events; Amelia GRIFFITH (D0855-AUS) ranked only 37th in 2017 but she has a strong potential that she has probably not exploited completely; and finally, a young newcomer, Beth KAY (D0497-GBR), who could very well show beautiful things this year.

 

MDS Men’s Top 5

  • Rachid EL MORABITY (D0001-MAR): after his 5 victories on the event (2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) and his victory on the first edition of the MDS PERU, he remains the undisputed star of the MDS. It’s hard not to imagine him a sixth time on the top step of the podium!
  • Mohamed EL MORABITY (D0205-MAR): at 26, Rachid’s younger brother finished 2nd last year, 23 minutes behind his older brother. With the experience he has gained, will he be able to catch up this year? “I will once again share the MDS with my older brother Rachid and I am really happy. He shares his experience with me and is a true example.”
  • Abdelkader EL MOUAZIZ (D0204-MAR): 48-year-old Abdelkader is a former top marathon runner (two wins in the London Marathon in 1999 and 2001, one in New York in 2000, personal best of 2:06:43) who has been drawing upon his speed and endurance on the MARATHON DES SABLES since 2014. He’s had one 7th and two 2nd place finishes.
  • Aziz EL AKAD (D0203-MAR): Aziz gets older every year, like everyone else, but at 50 years old, he can be proud to have been in the Top 5 seven times since 2007! He ranked only 16th last year, maybe because of a too quick start…
  • Gediminas GRINIUS (D1018-LTU): he is not Moroccan, but he is an ultra-trail beast, and he managed to rank 6th for his first attempt on the similar race of the MDS PERU last year, despite a very bad start of the race. If he doesn’t make the same Peruvian mistakes, he should step on the podium in Morocco.
  • Remigio HUAMAN QUISPE (D0002-PER), He finished 5th last year for his first participation and returns this year very motivated and much more experienced, having won both at Fuerteventura and Peru.
  • Other aspirants: Arnaud LEJEUNE (D1020-FRA) is France’s best hope for the Top 10 despite his lack of experience of the desert; Vajin ARMSTRONG (D1015-NZL) is an ultra-trail star in his country, but neither he has experience of desert; Majell BACKAUSEN (D1016-AUS) is fast and could very well act as dynamite in the short stages; and finally,

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MARATHON DES SABLES INTERNATIONAL: MOROCCO, PERU AND FUERTEVENTURA. 

Ever since 2018 Marathon des Sables has now expanded internationally with sister events held at Peru (250km) and Fuerteventura (125k). See below the official video of the Peruvian race at th Ica desert, a unique landscape of sand dunes moving right into the ocean.

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MARATHON DES SABLES PERU 2017: RACE DIARY BY GEDIMINAS GRINIUS. 

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MORE ON SKIMO, TRAIL RUNNING AND MOUNTAIN GEAR

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Info by Mayayo Oxígeno for Trailrunningspain

 

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