The Marathon des Sables, or marathon of the sands, is an ultra-marathon lasting six days and covering 250k.
Held in southern Morocco in the Sahara desert, participants cover the equivalent of six regular marathons in gruelling conditions of 50C heat in this multi-day event, revered as the toughest foot race on the planet by Discovery.
Patrick Bauer is just as passionate about the event today as he was when he founded it as a 28-year-old French concert promoter, and he makes sure to see all racers off at the start line.
The inaugural Marathon des Sables was held in 1986 with close to 200 competitors. Today, more than 1,000 participants race annually, while there is a support team of 400 members and more than 200 members of the press to report on proceedings.
The Ahansal brothers, local to Morocco, are the most successful participants in the race history, with Lahcen winning 10 titles, and Mohamad six.
Winners usually finish in 19-20 hours and are required by one of the event rules to carry all of their own supplies in a backpack to maintain and sustain their condition throughout the week-long event, except for water.
Participants are given a place to sleep in a tent each night.
This event is not just a race challenging the entrants to their maximum in terms of physical and mental conditioning in near in-hospitable conditions. Villages along the routes of the race benefit, including the provision of wells and water purification aid, while agricultural tools and books are also delivered by event representatives.
Furthermore, the MDs of the event, Patrick and Marie Bauer, have set up a foundation, Solidarité, to encourage sports development for the disadvantaged and education for women and children in Ouazarate in the south of the country.
The Marathon des Sables is open to individuals, teams, amateurs and professionals alike, though it should be said that this event is only for the most hardcore of racers.
To put it in perspective, you can't even feel the sweat dripping down your brow as you plod along under the baking sun as it evaporates too quickly, with competitors consuming as much as 12 litres of water per day.
April 4-14, 2014
Highs Competing in and completing the renowned toughest foot race on the planet.
lows The torturous heat!
How to get there/ Where to stay?
Return travel from the UK to Morocco is paid for as part of the race entry fee. Hotel and most meals before and after the event are also covered as part of the registration fee.
Website: www.marathondes sables.co.uk
email: mail@marathondes sables.co.uk