Pawfect finish at the Marathon Des Sables

By Dan Stinton

Four legs are better than two, right? It seems that the on-going Marathon Des Sables (MdS) has gained a rogue entrant when a dog decided to show us humans how to get through a multi-stage ultra.

The dog, which we hear has been named Cactus, joined runners during stage 2 and clearly decided that ultra running was the sport for him and decided to take on stage 3.

Forgetting to bring his mandatory kit, he received water from runners who just couldn’t leave a fellow competitor out there in the desert without fluids.  Solidly leading his category from start to finish, he triumphantly reached the end of the stage 52nd overall in 4:30, albeit with his tongue hanging out much further than usual.

He since rehydrated and has taken some well-earned rest but rather than a sports massage he received some extreme stroking instead.

https://run-ultra.com/media/images/MdS%2520news1%25202019/Cactus-dog-MdS-RunUltra-news_1.jpg

The 34th edition of the race started on Sunday 7th April and is a 6-stage, 7-day race across the Sahara Desert.  Whilst the exact distance varies each year it is generally around 250km.  Is it the “toughest” as many claim?

It certainly has some huge challenges with temperatures that can climb higher than 50 degrees C and runners needing to carry all of their supplies (other than a water ration and a tent at night).

We’ve been following all of the MdS action so far on our forum but here is a summary of the results of the first three stages.

Stage 1 (32.2km)

Moroccan runners took a big proportion of the top spots on stage 1.  Rachid and Mohamed El Morabity pushed the pace from the start leading to the brothers finishing a minute-and-a-half apart.  Ragna Debats dominated the women’s race from the start and finished with a 25-minute lead over the other women.

MEN
1. Rachid El Morabity (Morocco) – 2:19:00
2. Mohamed El Morabity (Morocco) – 2:20:28
3. Abdelaziz Baghazza (Morocco) – 2:22:58

WOMEN
1. Ragna Debats (Netherlands) – 2:42:24
2. Aziza Raji (Morocco) – 3:07:58
3. Laurence Klein (France) – 3:12:5

https://run-ultra.com/media/images/MdS%2520news1%25202019/MdS-RunUltra-news.jpg

Photo credit: Marathon des Sables

Stage 2 (32.5km)

Mohamed finished slightly ahead of his brother during stage 2 and Ragna, again, finishing with a significant lead.

MEN
1. Mohamed El Morabity – 2:52:30
2. Rachid El Morabity – 2:52:36
3. Abdelkader El Mouaziz (Morocco) – 2:56:14

WOMEN
1. Ragna Debats – 3:14:22
2. Meghan Hicks (USA) – 3:59:00
3. Aziza Raji – 4:05:32

https://run-ultra.com/media/images/MdS%2520news1%25202019/MdS-RunUltra-news2.jpg

Photo credit: Marathon des Sables

Stage 3 (37.1km)

A close finish on the men’s race with the top two places continuing to be dominated by Rachid and Mohamed.  Gemma Game from Great Britain finished 3rd (she came 3rd last year), but Ragna looks to be dominating the top spot.  Cactus finished 52nd overall in 4:30 and has already been awarded a medal.

MEN
1. Rachid El Morabity – 2:58:45
2. Mohamed El Morabity – 3:00:01
3. Abdelaziz Baghazza – 3:00:06

WOMEN
1. Ragna Debats – 3:35:54
2. Aziza Raji – 4:03:37
3. Gemma Game (Great Britain) – 4:11:56

We’ll continue to follow the long Stage 4 and keep you updated as to whether Cactus decides to continue the race.

https://run-ultra.com/media/images/MdS%2520news1%25202019/Cactus-MdS-RunUlra-news.jpg

Photo credit: Marathon des Sables

"Forgetting to bring his mandatory kit, he received water from runners who just couldn’t leave a fellow competitor out there in the desert without fluids."

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