Monday 23 October 2017

Irish runner in top 30 Sahara Desert stage finish in the 'toughest race in the world'

Action during the Marathon Des Sables
Action during the Marathon Des Sables
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Irish runner Ciaran Dunne finished in the top 30 yesterday on the third stage of what the Discovery Channel has described as the most difficult footrace in the world.

Dunne was among the 1,500 entrants, many of them Irish, who took on the six-day challenge of covering 251 km (156 miles) in temperatures reaching 50 degrees in the Sahara Desert. The gruelling distance is the equivalent of six regular marathons.

Yesterday the 38 year-old finished the 36.7km stage in three hours 54 minutes and 54 seconds, just over an hour behind the stage winner Rachid El Morabity, a two-time winner of the event.

After two days into the gruelling race, 35 runners had already abandoned in light of the most difficult conditions.

The Marathon des Sables was the brainchild of German football player Patrick Bauer who in 1984 traversed the Sahara desert on foot and alone. He covered the 350km in 12 days without encountering a single oasis or desert community along the way. Two years later in 1986 the first Marathon des Sables was run.

It has been held every year since.

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