Marathon Des Sables (MDS) Featured in
This legendary race is often referred to as the toughest foot race in the world. Also known as the Sahara Marathon, this is a six-day, 251km ultramarathon and is the equivalent of six regular marathons in length. The longest single stage of this race is 91 km.
This insane test of human endurance has been held every year since 1986 in the Sahara Desert in the south of Morocco. Roughly 500 - 1000 athletes from around 30 countries take part in the race annually. The marathon was founded by a French concert promoter Patrick Bauer who crossed the Sahara desert on foot in 1984, covering 350km in 12 days.
This race is known to be dangerous and demanding because of the rough desert conditions. In 1994, a former Olympian from Sicily, Mauro Prosperi, was set 299km off course from a harsh sand storm. Organizers searched for him for 11 days before he was found in Algeria.
Participants must be self-sufficient and carry all of their necessary food and equipment for the week on their backs. They spend their nights in communal goat hair Berber tents, but the remaining "luxuries" are their own responsibility. Water is rationed and those exceeding the ration get a time penalty.
The routes and formats change annually, and organizers spend around one month planning routes that are kept secret until the day before the race starts. They set a day of rest after the longest stage of the race, but some participants use this day to catch up.