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 courses 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 an MdS 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.
Photography by Dino Bonelli from Run the World
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 Runtheworld on Facebook and Twitter all through the day.