Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Marathon Des Sables - Day one

Today (Sunday, April 8th), the 2012 Marathon des Sables (MdS) began in southern Morocco. The race is run over seven-day, six-stage, and 246.5 kilometres. But the most gruelling thing is not the distance, but that each of this year’s 887 competitors must carry everything needed for a week of racing, exempting water and a shade structure under which they rest and camp between stages, both of which the race administration provides daily. Typically runners carry their food, clothing, a sleeping bag, personal supplies, and mandatory safety equipment for the week. The average pack will weigh in at around twenty pounds.

This week the six stages run between Tazzarine and the huge dunes in Merzouga.
Stage 1 (April 8th) – 33.8 km (21.0 miles)
Stage 2 (April 9th) – 38.5 km (23.9 miles)
Stage 3 (April 10th) – 35 km (21.7 miles)
Stage 4 (April 11th and 12th) – 81.5 km (50.6 miles)
Stage 5 (April 13th) – 42.2 km (26.2 miles)
Stage 6 (April 14th) – 15.5 km (9.6 miles)

The runners before today's start
The top women runners are expected to be French woman Laurence Klein who was the MdS women’s champ in both 2011 and 2007, is the clear favorite for this year’s MdS and Jennifer Salter (United Kingdom) – Jennifer’s is a MdS veteran.   Top Men’s Competitor is expected to once again be the super-fit Moroccan, Rachid El Morabity from Zagora.

Rachid El Morabity Photo: Meghan Hicks

Rachid El Morabity was last year’s MdS winner, he’ll be proudly wearing the Number 1 bib.

Each competitor wears a transponder on their ankle that records their progress over the start line, checkpoints, and finish line of each stage. If technology works properly, the MdS website will provide near-live tracking of athletes travel across the Sahara Desert. Also, a live video feed from the finish of each stage will play from the MdS website.

UPDATE:  Results Day One

Stage 1 : 08 APRIL - AMMOUGUER / OUED EL ATTCHANA – 33, 8kms

Champions already at full speed

At 8.00am: Hygrometry: 26.3%. Temperatures : 19.9°C.
At 10.00am:  Hygrometry: 18.7%. Temperatures : 29.7°C.
At 12am: Hygrometry: 12%. Temperatures: 35.8°C.
Number of runners of the start line: 853.
Today at 9.00am Patrick Bauer gave the start the 27th Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES between Ammouguer and wadi El Aatchana. The first leg, 33.8km long, offered a variety of terrain with dunes, stony valleys and djebel Tibert as a conclusion. As was to be expected, the champions fully went for it: Rachid El Morabity (D1-MAR) won the stage 6’35’’ ahead of Mohamad Ahansal (D8-MAR), and 9’55’’ ahead of Jordanian competitor Salameh Al Aqra (D148-JOR). In the women’s race, French runner Laurence Klein made a striking start by coming in 19’26’’ ahead of Jennifer Salter (D521-GB) and 26’18’’ ahead of Meryem Khali (D5-MAR)
After today’s “warm up”, tomorrow’s leg will span 38.5km between wadi El Aatchana and Taourirt Mouchanne. On the menu, a dried-up lake and dunes : ideal to make the gaps bigger.

Men ranking.
1st : Rachid El Morabity (D1-MAR), 33,8km in 2h26’32’’.
2nd :  Mohamad Ahansal (D8-MAR)  6’35’’ behind.
3rd : Salamaeh Al Aqra (D148-JOR)  9’55 behind.
Women ranking.
1st : Laurence Klein (D322-FRA),  33,8km in 3h19’22’’
2nd : Jennifer Salter (D521-GB) 19’26’’ behind.
3rd : Meryem Khali (D5-MAR) 26’18’’ behind.


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