Marathon des Sables (MDS) 

Fiona Oakes
Photo credits: Fiona Oakes
Patrick Bauer
April 12, 2024
Errachidia, Morocco
April 22, 2024
Ouarzazate, Morocco

A yearly multiday event in the desert in southern Morocco, open to runners and walkers, with six stages, free style, and with food self-sufficiency over a distance of about 250 km. Each participant must carry his/her own backpack containing food, sleeping gear and other material.
Each night participants will share a Berber bivouac tent with seven others. The tents are set up in advance of each stage, which allows runners to settle directly after they finish the daily distance. 

It has been regarded as the toughest foot race on earth. 
It isn’t just about covering the miles in a hostile environment. It is also about being self-sufficient in challenging conditions and taking responsibility for your physical needs.
Over 120,000 litres drinking water is consumed during the event.
You will receive an allocation of water each day from the organizers, and should manage the intake carefully.

It all started in 1984 when Patrick Bauer, who was 28 at the time, took on a completely self-sufficient 12-day journey across the Sahara Desert, covering 350 km on foot. Two years later the first Marathon des Sables (MDS) was born, with 23 “pioneers” taking on a similar challenge.

“The MDS is a powerful inner journey, a true introspection and a life path where you will find answers to questions you had never even thought of asking yourself before the start,” says Patrick, who is also the race director, about the cruel challenge. Nevertheless the MDS keeps growing in popularity.

No two MDS routes are ever the same, and many competitors keep coming back for more.
“This is really a course that pays tribute to the great diversity of terrains of the Marathon des Sables. We will cross all the wonders the region has to offer…,” Patrick said in a press release.

In keeping with tradition, the course is kept a closely guarded secret until the day before the starting pistol goes off.

Every edition, the funds are collected by the competitors to help dozens of charities in their country.
For 10 years, the Marathon des Sables has been mobilizing to have children from 3 to 10 years of age practice sports and to provide literacy classes to women, thanks to its association Solidarité MDS.

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