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El Morabity takes the reigns

etape1-campagnie-mds2015-copyright-5 800x600They practiced together back in February during a training session in nearby Zagora, and it was virtually together that the two Moroccans Rachid El Morabity and Abdelkader El Mouaziz crossed the finish line of the first leg of the 30th edition of the SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES on Sunday. Rachid El Morabity, reigning champion, finished just fifteen seconds ahead of his teammate (2h52’50). “This first leg was very quick, but I tried to pick off my rivals as I was really keen to win this first leg (he was lying in 4th position at CP1). However, it was very difficult due to the stiff competition, notably from Abdelkader.” Second in 2h53’05, the former marathon specialist, 7th in the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, savoured this introduction to proceedings. “As usual, the course was difficult, but I’ve been putting in the training so as not to suffer. I ran a good race today. I’m happy. I feel good and I amns a bit more experienced now. I hope I can better last year’s performance.” Behind them, Jordanian Salameh Al Aqra, winner in 2012, secured 3rd place just ahead of another former Olympian, Spaniard José Manuel Martinez, 4th less than six minutes behind the leader. “It’s my first time, it’s good isn’t it?” smiled Martinez before admitting to having suffered from the heat a bit. Briton Danny Kendall, 5th last year and top Briton of all time, couldn’t resist the 30th anniversary of the Marathon des Sables and was happy with his 7th place today in the first leg. “It was flat at the start so it was quick at the front. I went a bit wrong on the final section through not reading the roadbook properly but I’m happy to finish one stage. I’m aiming for Top 5 but I’m just going to focus on one day at a time.” For American Dave Mackey it was job done today. Targeting 10th he placed 10th, but was wary that he might have overcooked things slightly. “I didn’t actually expect to finish 10th so I’m happy with that. The first 5k was comfortable and then the heat packed a punch like a sledgehammer. The best bit was the last third and I really felt in my stride from then on.”

Among the female contingent the surprise on this first day came in the form of Swede, Elisabet Barnes, 15th in 2012, who finished eight minutes ahead of the big favourites of this edition, American Lisa Howard (2nd) and French star Laurence Klein (3rd), already a triple champion of the SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES.

Ranking: 1e Stage

MEN
1. Rachid El Morabity (MAR), 2h52’50
2. Abdelkader El Mouaziz (MAR), 2h53’05
3. El Aqra (JOR), 2h55’58 …
9. Christophe Le Saux (FRA), 3h14’14
12. Antoine Guillon (FRA), 3h16’42

WOMEN
1. Elisabet Barnes (SUE), 3h45’17
2. Liza Howard (USA), 3h53’17
3. Laurence Klein (FRA), 3h55’57