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A record year on many levels

A record participation with some 1,330 runners at the start as well as the longest leg in the history of the race, the 30th edition of the SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES is pushing back the limits on every score. For some 91.7km, the runners, whatever their level, will have to battle against both a physical and a psychological fatigue. The front runners will complete the race at dusk. Those bringing up the rear will cross the line up to 30 hours later.

TODAY’S NEWS

The wind will carry them along…

1,258 at today’s start. 62 retirements since the start.

The morning of the long leg of the SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES is never quite the same as the others. In the bivouac, the tension is palpable, the faces a little more impenetrable than usual, particularly given that the wind picked up in the night to further complicate matters. Whether it’s an elite runner or one of the famous ‘anonymous runners of the chasing pack’, each runner knows it’s going to be an extraordinary day. Even more so for this 30th edition... Indeed, the record for the longest leg in history (91.2km in 2009) will be broken today. Having set off from the Zireg jebel at 08:00am (11:00am for the top 50 in the overall ranking), the runners will have to cover 91.7km to make the point of deliverance in Jdaid. 91.7km! In the heat, the competitors will be making their way across what are grandiose landscapes and every step will require intense effort. Two days after having scaled the El Otfal jebel, they will have the privilege of adopting this legendary stage of the event once again. This time they’ll be heading in the opposite direction, which is guaranteed to get the adrenalin pumping in the sandy descent. It’ll also be an historic moment as they pass along the foot of the Ba Halou ruins, the origin of which dates back to the Romans and, according to the locals, is inhabited by ghosts. A lot of the runners will arrive under the cover of darkness, guided by the starry skies of the desert and by their unwavering faith. Some will prefer to stop off at a checkpoint and rest for a few hours before benefiting from the early hours of the morning and its more clement temperatures. No matter whether they’re running or walking, the most important thing is to make headway and to complete the course within the permitted 36 hours. At that point they can safely say, “I’ve done it”! A fact they can be proud of for the rest of their live.

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