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Golden Joggers 2011



What is it?

The Marathon des Sables is a six day, 151 mile (243km) endurance race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco, taking place at the beginning of April.

The race is run over seven days and the total distance is equivalent to just under six regular marathons. The actual course and distances are still to be announced, but are roughly:



Day 1

12 - 15 miles


Day 2

22- 26 miles


Day 3

22 - 26 miles


Day 4

Long stage - 45-50 miles

Day 5

Rest day (although in reality many competitors need to use this day to finish the long stage)

 Day 6 Marathon day - 26 miles
 Day 7 Final day - 12-14 miles

Rob, Ben and Jim will have to carry everything they will need for the duration of the race on their backs in a rucksack, including their food for the week. The race organisers provide a canopy between two sticks for competitors to sleep under (which is very open to the elements and the cold nights in the desert).


Mid-day temperatures can reach 50°C/120°F, and the terrain will involve stony ground, salt flats, mountain trails and the infamous dunes. Not to mention the violent sand storms which can reduce visibility to zero and cover everything in sight.

What kit will they need?

There is an obvious requirement for kit in a race such as this, but of course every item taken has to be carried. Extra weight will slow your speed and keep you in the heat for longer, so there is a fine balance between light and speedy and slow and comfortable. The team has mixed views on this, Rob and Ben favour light and speedy, whilst Jim favours weight and comfort - perhaps Ben and Rob should take heed of his prior desert experience!

Essential equipment includes:  

Survival gear (distress flare, salt tablets, luminous signal stick, aluminium survival sheet)


Sleeping bag

Torch with spare batteries


Knife with metal blade
Tropical Disinfectant
Anti-Venom pump (insect poison remover)
Signalling mirror

They will then compliment this with luxuries like shades / goggles, sun hats, spare clothing, medical supplies. They may even consider an MP3 player - Bon Jovi in the dunes!

Carrying weight in the heat, over large distances and in sandy terrain can severely traumatise feet. The boys will wear specialist desert gaitors which should keep some of the sand out, but they will have to carefully manage their feet to ensure they have a chance of finishing.

What will they eat and drink?

Water is given out at each checkpoint and at the start and end of each race stage- this is bottled mineral water and competitors will need to use their water ration for cooking and washing as well as drinking. Electrolyte powders will be added to the water to help replace lost salts and carbohydrates.

The chaps will also carry all their food for the week and have to prepare their own food throughout the race. In the mornings and evenings they will eat freeze dried food that is rehydrated using boiling water cooked over a small stove. Not dissimilar to dog food in both looks and taste!

They will need to demonstrate that they have at least 2000 calories worth of food per day. Considering the average person uses around 2000 calories per day, and running a mile burns off around 100 calories, then this would be woefully inadequate. So the boys will eat An additional mixture of energy bars, biltong, dried fruit, nuts and high energy snacks.

Some random MdS trivia:

During the 1994 race, Italian police officer Mauro Prosperi lost his way during a sand storm and wandered lost for more than 9 days, losing over 13 kg (30 lb) of body weight.

Two competitors have died during the race.


Lahcen Ahansal from Morocco has won 10 titles, and his brother Mohammed Ahansal has won 4 titles.