Epic Marathon des Sables ready to go

As the final preparations and tests are completed ahead of their ultramarathon, anxiety builds for 1,045 runners.

Today saw participants in the 2014 Marathon des Sables complete the organisers’ rigorous administrative checks, meaning they are ready to begin what is believed to be the toughest race on Earth.

On the eve of the race start, participants have to go through the bag control to ensure that they have all the compulsory kit required by the organisation.

This includes a knife, a compass, a whistle, a lighter, anti-venom, an antiseptic, a sleeping bag, a survival blanket and a total of 12,000 food calories for the six days of races.

In addition to these basic requirements, the organisation team also gives all runners a distress flare, 120 salt capsules, two cotton buds impregnated with iodine and biodegradable bags for toilet purposes.

This level of precaution in the athletes’ equipment deomonstrates how dangerous the 250km ultramarathon will be.

Motivated by adventure

Winner of the New York and London marathons, Moroccan Abdelkader El Mouaziz, is running for the first time and explains why he is tackling the Sables.

“My primary driver is adventure. It’s a race I’ve watched on the television and I’ve always told myself I have to do it one day,” explianed the former finalist at the Olympic Games in Sydney.

As well as a thorough check of their equipment, the runners have to undergo an examination with the medical team, so that they may monitor the condition of the runners and prepare for any possible recurrences of former health problems.

This year, the 1045 runners will not have the luxury of a gradual introduction to the adventure, as the first stage will require them to cover 12km through the Merzouga dunes, the highest in the south-Moroccan Sahara.

Running through the sand in sweltering heat without any shade is sure to bring home the reality of the task the runners are undertaking, which will test the their mental toughness as well as physical capability.

Source : Al Jazeera

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