The name of Rachid EL MORABITY is now intimately linked to the MARATHON DES SABLES. Before him, the Ahansal brothers – Lahcen and his brother Mohamad – both born in Zagora, like Rachid, had written their names in golden letters in the Who’s Who of this major race. The eldest, Lahcen, totals 10 victories in this event. As of today, he's the record holder.
The youngest, Mohamad, has won the race 5 times. Since last year, his record has been equalled by his former pupil, who then became his contestant: Rachid EL MORABITY.
Now that he has reached his former mentor's record, 36-year-old EL MORABITY is coveting Lahcen's crown, which seems within his reach, especially if he succeeds in keeping his sceptre this year. This would give him a total of 6 titles, thus bringing him only 4 victories away from the record holder.
But as with the fratricide duel between Lahcen and Mohamad – which had produced a kind of family saga – the events of history might recur with the EL MORABITY brothers, since Rachid's main challenger is now his 10-year-younger brother, Mohamed. Ranked second in 2017, this latter could very well be the heir apparent of his older brother. A status he hopes to confirm by winning his first Grail. As soon as this year?
“The Ahansal brothers' story inspires us all, but I don't want to speak too fast: I'm here to learn and gain experience. My level is still far from my brother's, who keeps giving me precious advice,” as Mohamed explained last year after his first MARATHON DES SABLES.
As for Rachid, he prefers answering with a joke when asked about his possible early retirement because of his younger brother: "I hope he won't betray the pact that binds us, which consists of letting me equal Lahcen's record before beating me. He's young, so he has all the time he needs..."
Meanwhile, Rachid EL MORABITY, backed by his five MDS titles and a victory in the first edition of the Peruvian MDS event, is gearing up for a sixth crown. The verdict will be given on Saturday 14 April, after the last timed stage. Lahcen Ahansal might already be trembling…