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Tag - Marathon des Sables

Fifteen Questions on MDS

Fifteen Questions on MDS

Multi-Day racing and in particular, the Marathon des Sables provides a very unique and difficult challenge for those who toe the line in Morocco. It’s easy to get bogged down with too much advice on equipment, training and what is the best plan of action for a 6-day adventure in the Sahara.
I caught up with three 2017 participants and asked just five questions.

Elisabet Barnes has won the MDS twice, 2015 and 2017. She is a very experienced multi-day racer who is meticulous in preparation.

How did you get into running and how long have you been running?

I started running in my teens as a hobby so it’s been a long time. I ran my first Marathon in 2002 and in 2011 I started running Ultra Marathons as part of a lifestyle change.

What is it like to return to MDS as a previous champion?

I loved returning in 2017 as I felt well prepared and confident. The pressure is always on when you are the reigning champion and I have learned that it makes all the difference how you deal with that. It can make or break you.

You were really prepared for 2017, what made the difference?

I had some really specific training and racing in the lead-up including Lanzarote, Costa Rica, Tenerife and Morocco. In addition, I spent time focusing on other areas such as marginal weight gains on my kit, specific planning of my food, and mental preparations. I was very focused in this year’s edition.

Did you ever think you wouldn’t win?

Winning is never guaranteed. The field was strong and many things can go wrong in such an extreme race. I was super focused every day and never assumed I had it in the bag.

Three tips for those who may run MDS?

  1. Understand your race ambitions, e.g. whether you are a “completer or a completer”. \
  2. This will determine the focus of your training, kit choices and food planning
  3. Acclimatize to the heat. Be mentally prepared for the unexpected.

Kev George is relatively new to running but likes a challenge. It’s always good to dream and Kev made his dream a reality.
 Marathon des Sables

What was your experience prior to MDS?

I was an unlikely entrant to MDS, having only started running in 2014, but I had a dream to complete one of the world’s most iconic ultra-marathons and so signed up in December 2015. I spent the next 12 months training hard, running longer, ticking off multiple marathons and ultras until disaster struck in December 2016 when I suffered a stress fracture.

 You were injured before the race, how did the MDS go?

Because of the injury, my only goal was to finish and so I committed to only walking on Day 1, but as the days passed, my confidence grew and I ran more and moved up the rankings.

 Did the MDS live up to expectation?

Words cannot describe how special this race is; it is way more beautiful than I could have imagined and to be out there in the desert landscape in searing heat, testing your body and mind against the elements is incredible.

 How tough and long was ‘the long day?’ And what was your lowest point?

Yes, the long day was tough, and I cursed the race director frequently, but there was something magical about trekking over dunes in the moonlight, with desert creatures scurrying underfoot. I had some low points but all were forgotten at the sight of that finish line where I was overwhelmed by the achievement of traveling 150 miles across such an inhospitable landscape.

 Three tips for those who may run MDS?

  1. Do it!  Commit and believe in yourself.
  2. Train smart.  You are going to walk… lots!  So train for that.
  3. The journey is personal.  Train with your food.  Train with your kit and choose what works for you.

Pete Rees is experienced in off-road running and likes his fair share of mud, particularly if obstacles are in the way.
MDS

What was your experience prior to MDS?

I’ve run a lot over the last 10-15 years (mostly trail) but, until this year, I hadn’t ventured into ultra-distance.

How did the race unfold?

My aim was to “race” and get into the top 200, and I managed to finish in 89th. It was a grueling experience, mentally and physically, but I felt well prepared for it. My training and kit preparation was spot-on for my needs.

What was the highlight, what was the low point?

My low point was in the second stage. Bad toe-taping resulted in me ripping a large blister before the first checkpoint – it was a mental hit at the beginning of a very challenging day. My high point was halfway through the forth (long) stage. My energy had been sapped by temperatures approaching 50 degrees in the sun. I stopped at checkpoint four to get a grip on myself. I put music on (for the first time), ate and took some caffeine. The boost that gave me was incredible – I stormed through the dunes that followed, while others crumbled around me.

How did you feel at the end?

Elated, exhausted and proud. I have never given so much to anything.

Three tips for those who may run MDS?

  1. Research and test. This applies to training and kit. It helps you to go into the event with confidence.
  2. Lighten your load (but not at the expense of food). My favorite rule when deciding on gear: “If it’s not mandatory and you can’t eat it, don’t take it!”
  3. Contrary to rule 2: Take poles, no matter what your target. There were a lot of runners in the top 100 who were jealous of how they improved my dunes game.

 
Credit ©iancorless.com

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mohamad-ahansal

Moroccan Athlete to Run Hardest Marathon on Earth in California

Morocco world news

By Tatiana Flowers

Rabat – Mohamad Ahansal from JbelBani, Morocco, has been invited by the United States to run “Badwater,” one of the world’s toughest foot races in America.  

The nonstop race comprises 135 miles (217k) of mountainous terrain and it starts in one of the hottest climates in the world, in Badwater, Death Valley, California. The starting point is at 280 feet (85m) below sea level and finishes in Mount Whitney at 8,300 feet (2,530m).
Moroccan Athlete will run a total of three mountain ranges, spanning 14,600 feet (4,450m) vertically, and 6,100 feet (1,859m) in ascension. On July 18, 2016, he will compete against some of the strongest male and female marathoners in the world, running for an organization called “Hope So Bright,” which raises awareness of autism, affecting one in 10 American children.
“I will be doing my very last bit of training for Badwater here in Morocco with a fast run up our highest mountain. It will be a special run from Marrakech to Toubkal summit 4167m; 78 km with 4000 m+ climbing … We will be leaving on 9 July at 00:00 from Bab Rob in Marrakech if anyone would like to join,” Ahansal told Morocco World News.
Ahansal is a five-time champion of Marathon Des Sables, one of the hardest races on Earth and equivalent to six full marathons.
He and his brother, Lahcen, who is also an award-winning runner, had not started training until their late teens, but they would unknowingly become conditioned early, growing up in a high altitude with scorching temperatures, and mountainous terrain.  Each day, they ran 7 kilometers to and from school, or 4.3 miles in distance.
When Mohamad Ahansal was 17, he ran his first competition against other young men at the Eid Al-Ashor festival. He did not have running shoes, so he wore heavy football sneakers with improper soles. At the starting line, he realized his friends and competitors had proper running sneakers, so he decided to discard his own and run the race barefoot. He finished the race in second place, realizing for the first time, he had a tremendous ability.
Although Moroccan Athlete is well known for his capability of handling such tough foot races, he acknowledges the difficulty of Badwater.
“In a way, it was a crazy decision to sign up. It is almost the same distance, [as Marathon Des Sables] but Marathon Des Sables takes six days and Badwater is non-stop. I have never run this far in one go. Yes, the temperature will be the same, but the quality of the sun will be different. The altitude, the humidity, and the difference between the desert plain and the mountains are all factors. At the start, it is going to be very dry with lots of heat coming up from the ground, and then by the end, you are at high altitude. This is the difficulty,” he said.
Ahansal is internationally known for winning noteworthy, difficult races, including Marathon Des Sables, Fire and Ice, and The Iranian Silk Road. He has also created his own multi-stage race, called the Trans Atlas Marathon.
Last year, an American, Pete Kolstenick, won Badwater.  This year, Moroccan Athlete has a chance at bringing the victory home to Africa.
Mohamad-Ahansal

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Marco Olmo’s Marathon Des Sables race for Team I Run 4 Ultra

Marco Olmo is a legend in so many ways but he is held in particular reverence by the Marathon Des Sables community. He has run the race, the toughest footrace on earth, six marathons in six days across the Sahara desert over twenty times. He continues, in his late sixties to maintain an elite pace and to finish at the forefront of the rankings.
As his fellow team mate, Harvey Lewis said about him, “Marco Olmo is very special. He has run this race 21 times. I want to be like him in 28 years! He is 68 years young and can out run anyone from my home town!”
In this year’s MdS, he came second in the team competition with Team I Run 4 Ultra and 30th in the overall rankings with a time of 29h 32 for the 258 km covered in the race.

We caught up with him just days after it had finished.

Q: How was the race for you? Can you give us a general overview of how it went?
A: This MdS has been very difficult for me due to the intense heat, the wind and the very demanding route.  However there was a wonderful team spirit both in the tent and in the team.
Q: Were there any particularly tough moments and how did you overcome them?
A: The most difficult day was the longest one.  I found it really tough both mentally and physically.  In order to reach the end, I thought about my team and how I  didn’t want to disappoint my fans.  That is what helped me finish.
Q: Were you happy with your final position? (Marco came 30th out of a field of 1200 competitors) and how was it running with the team.
A: At the end of the race I was a bit disappointed with my final position, but now taking into consideration my age and the high level of competitors I am happy with it. Our team was very united and the atmosphere was wonderful.
Q: I know that on the last marathon stage, Harvey Lewis used you as his mentor and guide and followed everything you did. How was that for you?
A: Yes during the last stage,  Harvey followed me like a shadow and was very loyal towards me.  He never bothered me by running too close or by overtaking me.  It was an honor to run with a great champion like Harvey.
Q:  What were your feelings as you crossed the finish line?
A: It was very liberating finishing the race but above all I was just so incredibly happy to have finished for my team and all that it represents.

Thank you to Marco Olmo for his wonderful effort as part of Team I Run 4 Ultra and their efforts to raise awareness of ADHD.
Photographs by Dino Bonelli.

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Day 5: The Last Day! Marathon Des Sables

STOP PRESS!

I Run 4 Ultra take SECOND PLACE in the team competition for Marathon des Sables 2016!
Our team of runners: Carlos Sa, Jason Schlarb, Ricardo Hernandez, Marco Olmo, and Harvey Lewis have taken second place in the 31st edition of the Marathon des Sables, the toughest footrace on earth.
It is the most fantastic result and we could not be more proud of our runners. They have braved over 250km across the Sahara desert in 5 stages, carrying all their own equipment and food for the race with water rations in place and always under the burning sun. They have battled sand dunes, salt flats, high hills, claustrophobic river valleys and rocky gorges to win their place on the podium just behind TGCC, the winning Moroccan team.
An amazing team result built on their individual successes!
The final results for the individuals in the team in the overall classification were as follows:
8th   Carlos Sa  23h 59
12th Jason Schlarb  24h 58
23rd Ricardo Hernandez  27h 48
30th Marco Olmo 29h 32
92nd Harvey Lewis  34h 47
Our team were running to raise awareness of ADHD which affects one in ten children in America. They were all proud to take on this challenge for us and had this to say to us before the race.

Marathon Des Sables race

Photography by Dino Bonelli from Run the World

Ricardo Hernandez, “For me, it is a pleasure and honor to be able to represent an organization like Hope So Bright, that prides itself and dedicates to raising awareness to help children with ADHD in this day and age.
Many children have been affected and diagnosed, from all over the world. I am a father and son. I have experienced firsthand what it is like to deal with something of the unknown. It is difficult for families to deal with these emotional and inhibitory issues when they don’t know where to go or turn for help. Fortunately, as Hope So Bright is dedicated to helping children and young adults it speaks in loud volumes to the public in raising awareness for ADHD.”
Harvey Lewis, “As a teacher and athlete I’m honored to join the Hope So Bright Campaign for children. As a child, I had a learning disability and the investments and dedication made by my teachers, parents, and community paved the way for the opportunities I enjoy today. I’m concerned about our nation’s standard approach to ADHD and treatment that generally focuses solely on medicating children. From my observations of children in various countries and personal experience with ADHD I believe greater strides should be made toward holistic approaches to overcoming ADHD including nutrition, exercise and learning styles. I’m interested in bringing greater awareness and hope to inspire folks through our shared journey along Marathon De Sables. I’m excited about the Odyssey ahead.”
Marco Olmo, “” There’s one week per year in which there is no room for small-mindedness, deception, cowardice, or deceit, and it is the week of the Marathon des Sables. I am honored to be part of the team representing the organization, Hope So Bright for Marathon des Sables.”
Carlos Sa, “This is an opportunity to be doing what I like best, running with friends, and to be, at the same time, contributing positively to another noble cause of this organization.  In this case, we are helping to combat ADHD and drawing attention to the importance of physical exercise and healthy eating.  I don’t doubt that I should do everything possible to fully integrate myself in this challenge”
Jason Schlarb, “I am proud to represent Hope So Bright at the Marathon Des Sables race.  Helping children is certainly one of the most important things anyone can do in life and I am honored, inspired and humbled to represent Hope So Bright and their amazing cause.
Our great team’s efforts go a long way to continuing to raise awareness of ADHD, its diagnosis and treatments and we would like to thank them most sincerely for undertaking this challenge for Hope So Bright.
Tomorrow is the charity stage and then they will be arriving back at the hotels ready to relax before they start their journeys home.
All our thanks and congratulations again to Team I Run 4 Hope! What a wonderful result and a great endeavor. Bravo, champions!

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Day 4: Marathon Des Sables 2016 – The Long Stage

The long stage in the Marathon Des Sables is a true test of determination and skill. 84.3 km over rocks, steep hills, the inevitable dunes, and river valleys. The course’s organizers make sure that they lead the race over some of the most challenging terrain that the Sahara desert has to offer – and that is pretty challenging!
It is a Marathon Des Sables tradition that the top fifty runners have to start the stage three hours after the main field has set off. As four of our team are in that top fifty, it made the race much more difficult for them as they started as the sun was reaching its hottest and ran right through the heat of midday and early afternoon, finishing after nightfall.
Even though it is the longest and toughest stage, day four of the Marathon Des Sables is always the one that runners talk about and remember with the most clarity. Running through a desert sunset is a privilege and no-one who has ever done it will forget it.
The course for stage 4 included the highest and most difficult ascent of the entire race. There are fixed ropes at the top to help the competitors for the final few meters. It is called Jebel el Otfal and has a ratio of 12% increasing to 30%. After that there are still two more jebels to tackle as well dunes and long rocky gorges.
Night falls in Morocco around 8.15 pm local times so all of the runners finished in the darkness.  For the main field, many of them will STILL be running or walking to the finish line today (Thursday).
But our runners all got back to the bivouac safely and ran yet another fantastic stage. They are running to raise awareness of ADHD and are doing the most incredible job. 100% effort 100% of the time.

The places overall and the total times for MDS so far for Team I Run 4 Ultra are:

7th Carlos Sa 20 hrs 20
11th Jason Schlarb 21 hrs 21
23rd Ricardo Hernandez 23 hrs 26
29th Marco Olmo 25 hrs 12
119th Harvey Lewis 30 hrs 08
We spoke to Linda Sanders who is following the runners and filming them for the documentary, “Desert Around Me”. She says it was an incredibly hot and exhausting day but that everyone is well and will spend today recovering.
Enjoy your rest day Team I Run 4 Ultra! You deserve it. Just one more race day to go.  Keep going guys, we are all behind you!
Don’t forget we are posting pictures from our photographer Dino Bonelli from Run The World on Facebook and Twitter all through the day.

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Toughest Footrace on Earth begins: Team I Run 4 Ultra are there

The racers for the Marathon Des Sables, the toughest footrace on earth, have arrived at their camp in the Sahara desert. The race starts at 9.00 am (GMT) on Sunday the 10 the April. Six marathons in six days across the most hostile wilderness on earth.
Harvey Sweetland Lewis (USA) winner of Bad Water and Jason Schlarb, multi ultra winner, (USA) have come together with three other top international athletes, Marco Olmo (Italy), Carlos Sa (Portugal) and Ricardo Mejia Hernandez (Mexico), to contend for the team crown as team I Run 4 Ultra.
Traditionally the men’s and team race has been dominated by Moroccan contestants, but team I Run 4 Ultra

Hope will be challenging that!

The race is designed to test the mettle of the toughest and fittest. It is six marathons in six days, and the middle one is double marathon distance at 60 miles plus. The terrain is extreme with towering sand dunes, blinding dried lake flats and burning sands. The temperature will average in the high 40s and reach over 50 degrees during the race.
Team, I Run 4 Ultra has been brought together by USA Ultra Runner and founder of Hope So Bright,
Linda Sanders, to create awareness of the plight of children suffering from ADHD through her
organization, Hope So Bright. A staggering one in ten children in the USA is diagnosed with the condition and seven billion dollars a year is spent on drugs.
Schlarb speaks for the whole team when he says of his participation in the Marathon des Sables for
Team, I Run 4 Ultra, “I am proud to represent Hope So Bright at the Marathon Des Sables race.  Helping
children are certainly one of the most important things anyone can do in life and I am honored, inspired
and humbled to represent Hope So Bright and their amazing cause.”
Good Luck Team I Run 4 Ultra! We are rooting for you!

For live updates follow us on Twitter @Irun4hope or Facebook I Run 4 Hope

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Top Colorado Trail Runner to Challenge for Desert Crown

Top Colorado Trail Runner to Challenge for Desert Crown

By Alice Hunter Morrison, Moroccan-based Journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, RunUltra, and Special Correspondent to Hope So Bright

April 5, 2016

Jason Schlarb of Durango, Colorado, the international trail runner champion, has united with four other trail stars to take on the legendary Marathon des Sables, the toughest footrace on earth. He joins Harvey Sweetland Lewis (USA), Marco Olmo (Italy), Carlos Sa (Portugal) and Ricardo Mejia Hernandez (Mexico), to run the team competition at Marathon Des Sables 2016.
They have been brought together by USA Ultra Runner, Linda Sanders, to create awareness of the plight of children suffering from ADHD. A staggering one in ten children in the USA is diagnosed with the condition and seven billion dollars a year is spent on drugs. Their team name is called IRun4Ultra.
The Marathon des Sables is called the Toughest Footrace on Earth. It is six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert in Morocco. The middle marathon is a double. Temperatures regularly reach 50 degrees C. The terrain is arduous with endless miles of sand dunes and salt flats, interspersed with rocky trails. Competitors must be self-sufficient and carry all their own food and equipment for the week. Water is rationed. Dehydration and bloodied feet are the enemy, but contestants who need to be put on a drip incur time penalties for using extra water.
Schlarb says of his participation in the Marathon des Sables for Team IRun4Ultra, “I am proud to represent Hope So Bright at the Marathon des Sables race. Helping children is certainly one of the most important things anyone can do in life and I am honored, inspired and humbled to represent Hope So Bright and their amazing cause.”
FURTHER INFORMATION
Please find attached a full article and sample photographs. High-Resolution pictures are available on request through Dropbox. For INTERVIEWS, more photos or any further information please contact:
• Erika Dial + 1 (310) 374-2862 [email protected]
• Linda Sanders or Lisa Enriquez + 1 (310) 374-2862 [email protected]
• For more information on Hope So Bright please visit www.hopesobright.org

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Badwater 135

Badwater® 135 and UTMB Legends Unite to Go for Marathon des Sables Crown

Badwater® 135 and UTMB Legends Unite to Go for Marathon des Sables Crown

By Alice Hunter Morrison, Moroccan-based Journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, RunUltra, and Special Correspondent to Hope So Bright

 
April 1, 2016
Harvey Sweetland Lewis (USA) winner of Badwater 135 and Marco Olmo (Italy) two-time winner of UTMB have come together with three other top international athletes, Jason Schlarb (USA), Carlos Sa (Portugal) and Ricardo Mejia Hernandez (Mexico) Badwater 135, to run the team competition at Marathon des Sables.
They have been brought together by USA Ultra Runner, Linda Sanders, to create awareness of the plight of children suffering from ADHD. A staggering one in ten children in the USA is diagnosed with this condition.
The Marathon des Sables is called the Toughest Footrace on Earth. It is six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert. The middle marathon is a double. Temperatures regularly reach 50 degrees C. The terrain is arduous with endless miles of sand dunes and salt flats, interspersed with rocky trails. Competitors must be self sufficient and carry all their own food and equipment for the week.
“In my everyday life I’m a loser….I run for revenge, I run for vengeance,” says Marco Olmo, who at the age of 66 came in 16th overall in last year’s competition. “But this time I am honored to be part of the team representing the organization, Hope So Bright and raising awareness for ADHD.”
FURTHER INFORMATION
Please find attached a full article and sample photographs. High Resolution pictures are available on request through dropbox. For more photos or any further information please contact ALICE on [email protected]
For more information about Hope So Bright, please visit www.hopesobright.org

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