Marathon des Sables

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Marathon des Sables
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Considered by many to be the most challenging run on earth, the Marathon des Sables is a truly exhausting feat for all who attempt it. In less than a week, competitors will run 156 miles in one of the planets most gruelling environments, over dunes, rocks and scorching salt flats.
Marathon des Sables
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Fri, 1 Oct 2021
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Ouarzazate, Morocco
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(1 Review)
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Where and when
Ouarzazate 45000, Morocco
Start times
Friday, 1 Oct 2021
Marathon des Sables: TBC
Event summary
Here are the distances available for Marathon des Sables
Marathon des Sables
Route information
This extraordinary challenge takes you through the desert and the route and format differs from year to year. After the longest stage, competitors can expect a rest day, but be aware that it may well take you into that day to finish it. The longest stage is typically around 55 miles, with the whole race being around 156 miles.
During any stage there will be between 2 and 6 checkpoints, runners must go through these checkpoints to have their time recorded and collect water.
Course Markings
The participants in the 35th MARATHON DES SABLES must follow the route as marked by the organisers, failing which penalties may be applied according to the particular stage. For liaison stages, the course will be marked approximately every 500 meters. There are several natural landmarks that will serve as additional points of reference.
Special NON-STOP stage and MARATHON: light beacons from CP3 to the finish line.
What's included
  • Bus transfers
  • Catering
  • Bivouac
  • Hotel accommodation (2 days half board)
  • Water throughout the race
  • Repatriation insurance (see Art. 20)
  • Technical support
  • Medical assistance
  • Air and ground support
  • Marathon kit
  • Medal for finishers
  • T-shirt
  • Certificate for finishers (downloadable 3 months after the race)
  • Official film of the race (downloadable 3 months after the race)
How to get there
Ouarzazate 45000, Morocco
Get full directionsExternalLink
Event day logistics
01 October Departure for Morocco, arrival, transfer bivouac. Distribution of a lunch package and dinner provided by AOI.
02 October Technical, administrative and medical formalities. Meals provided by AOI. Participants must present themselves to the race administrators and medical team responsible for carrying out these verifications. He or she must imperatively have fulfilled his or her technical, administrative and medical obligations before departure. At the control point, an exact list of each participant's equipment must be established
03 to 08 October Timed stages with food self-sufficiency.
Day 1: 33.8k
Day 2 38.5k
Day 3: 35.0k
Day 4: 81.5k
Day 5: 42.2k
Day 6: 15.5k
09 October Timed, "Solidarity" stage with food self-sufficiency. Bus transfer to hotels and distribution of a lunch package. Dinner at the hotel included in the price (drinks not included).
10 October 2021 Free day. Breakfast and dinner at the hotel. Lunch not included.
11 October 2021 Return to France. Breakfast at the hotel. Competitors not using the Paris flight may have to arrive a day earlier and return a day later depending on flight connections.
The 35th MARATHON DES SABLES is a foot race, open to runners and walkers, with several stages, free style, and with food self-sufficiency over a distance of about 250k. Each participant must carry his/her own backpack containing food, sleeping gear and other material.
In order to compete you must be over 18, any citizenship. Competitors must hold a medical certificate issued by the organisation stating their ability to participate and a resting ECG report.
Competitors stay overnight in a bivouac village, comprised of tents that sleep about 8 competitors per tent. Once you get your ‘bivvy’, your bivvy team become your family, your support team, your nursing team and invariably they become long-term friends. The most memorable sound of an evening is the rumble of weary laughter that echoes around the village. The bivouacs will be pitched each day on previously chosen sites transformed into camping grounds for the competitors; Numbered, 8-man tents attributed by country of residence. Failure to adhere to these numbers will incur a penalty. Competitors may use their free time to prepare for the night and get medical care, if necessary.
  • Backpack MDS or equivalent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Head torch and a complete set of spare batteries
  • 10 safety pins
  • Compass, with 1° or 2° precision
  • Lighter
  • A whistle
  • Knife with metal blade
  • Tropical disinfectant
  • Anti-venom pump
  • A signalling mirror
  • One aluminium survival sheet
  • One tube of sun cream
  • 200 euro or equivalent in foreign currency
  • Passport or for Moroccan residents, identity card
  • Original medical certificate provided by AOI, filled in and signed by the doctor
  • Original ECG and its tracing
Medical Assistance
A specially chosen medical team, specialising in sports and tropical medicine will be present throughout the race with the use of assistance vehicles. It will be posted at check points and at the finish line each day and will ensure that any participants who are suffering from physical or mental exhaustion are brought back to the base camp. The medical team is allowed to remove ID plates and to eliminate any participant they feel physically unfit to continue the race and/or having received vital medical care.
Average temperature in October:
  • Daytime 30° C
  • Night time 15° C
The route (approx. 250k) covers a wide variety of terrain. In the event of sand storm lowering visibility to zero, competitors must stop in their tracks and wait for instructions by the organisers.
Each entrant must provide his/her own food from 03 to 09 October included.
He/she must select the type of food best suited to his/her personal needs, health, weather conditions, weight and backpack conditions. We remind you that airlines strictly forbid the carrying of gas (for cooking) on board either as hand luggage or otherwise. Each competitor must have 14 000 k/calories, that is to say a minimum of 2,000 k/calories per day, otherwise he/she will be penalised. Any food out of its original packaging must be equipped, legibly, of the nutrition label shown on the product concerned.
The organisation takes charge of supplying water to each competitor. Water is typically distributed as follows.
Liaison stage
12 litres per person per day
1.5 or 3 litres at check points 1 and 2,
1.5 or 3 litres at check point 3, if check point 3
6 or 7.5 litres at arrival post.
Marathon stage
15 litres per person per day:
3 litres at check points 1, 2 and 3
6 litres at arrival post.
Non-stop stage
25.5 litres minimum per person over 2 days:
3 litres at check points 1, 2, 3 and 4,
1.5 or 3 litres at check points 5 and 6,
4.5 litres at arrival post,
6 litres at the bivouac.
At the end of the stage, each competitor is given 6 litres of water.
Be aware that the next water supply will be on the first CP of the next day's stage
Distribution times will be posted up on the bivouac the night before. Stamping of the water card is obligatory and the competitor's sole responsibility. Each participant must manage his/her daily water intake as and when water is distributed and cannot obtain further supplies at any other time.
Penalties will be given to competitors who abandon empty water containers along the route. Facilities for handing in empty containers will be available at check points.
Never leave without water. Should you get lost in the desert, water reserves could be vital.
How long is the Marathon des Sables?
It is approximately 156 miles long, completed over 6 days.
Do I have to carry all my food and water in the Marathon des Sables?
Competitors must carry all the food, water and sleeping gear. You will be provided water at checkpoints throughout each stage.
Where will I sleep during the Marathon des Sables?
You will be allocated a space in a bivouac. You will share this with 7 other people based on nationality.
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