Moroccans dominate men’s competition, while five nationalities fill women’s top five during the first stage of the world's longest desert race.
Rabat – The first stage of the Marathon des Sables (MDS) was a challenging course through 32.2 kilometers of stony plains, dune fields, rocky valleys, and hills.
Patrick Bauer, the founder of MDS and acting Race Director, was present when the starting pistol went off at 9 a.m. By noon, temperatures had reached as high as 26 degrees celsius.
In general, 10 hours is the maximum time expected to complete this stage. All of the top finishers for both the mens and women’s race made it in less than four hours.
The men’s race
Moroccans dominated the men’s competition for stage one, taking the first five finisher spots.
Rachid and Mohamed El Morabity, two brothers with years of experience in the MDS, finished a minute a part. They came in first and second respectively. The result is a slight change from last year, when Mohamed El Morabity took the top spot for the first stage.
“I’m very happy. The first stage was very tough: despite several flat sections, there were many dune fields. But thanks to my experience, I was able to win the stage,” Rachid El Morabity said.
The two brothers have dominated the last several years of the Marathon des Sables, consistently placing in the top five.
|Stage One: Men’s Top Five|
|1||Rachid El Morabity||Morocco||2:19:00|
|2||Mohamed El Morabity||Morocco||2:20:28|
|4||Abdelkader El Mouaziz||Morocco||2:26:53|
The women’s race
In stark contrast to the men’s competition, the top five women finishers were all from different countries.
Ragna Debats, from the Netherlands, finished first, completing the race more than 25 minutes ahead of Moroccan runner Aziza Raji, who came in second place.
“It’s important for me to be happy and have good feelings, but this is a race and when I [take] part in a race, my objective is to win,” Debats said in an interview after the race.
|Stage One: Women’s Top Five|
|1||Ragna Debats||The Netherlands||2:42:24|
|4||Lauren Woodwiss||Great Britain||3:20:02|
|5||Meghan Hicks||The United States of America||3:21:29|
The next stage
Details about the second stage have yet to be released, but stage two is expected to start at 9 a.m., Monday, April 8.
Morocco World News will continue to provide updates on the marathon throughout the week.