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Last minute


SALAMEH AL AQRA AND NIKKI KIMBALL PACKING A PUNCH

As is often the case in the SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES, the long stage has been a source of surprise and emotion. Naturally there was a large welcoming committee on the finish line this Wednesday to greet the winner of today’s stage, Salameh Al Aqra. The Jordanian, slightly behind, ran the perfect race at a good lick, to get ahead of his great rival Moroccan Rachid El Morabity by over twenty minutes, in 2nd. “I’m very happy to have won today. It was very difficult, but I didn’t seek to run a tactical race, I just wanted to secure victory,” Salameh Al Aqra admitted before heading off to get some rest. Behind him, Rachid El Morabity said he was satisfied not to have committed the same errors as in the past: “I preferred to play a tactical game today by letting Salameh get past as I knew I had a lead in the overall ranking”. In third place, Portuguese runner, Carlos Sa is doubtless the great surprise of this leg. “Today was spectacular and it’s doubtless one of the most beautiful long stages in the Marathon des Sables”. Abdelkader El Mouaziz, in the top trio thus far, has had to let his podium hopes slide for now after securing 16th place. Meantime Briton Danny Kendall secured 6th place in the 81.5km leg today in a time of 08:04 hours, 50 minutes behind the leader. Exhausted but perfectly lucid, Danny had been pushing it hard today. “It was tough! I struggled on the last bit. I was feeling sick. I felt good early on, up in 3rd place and then I started suffering from stomach problems. It was the heat and the food that tipped me over the edge. When it started getting cooler it took me a while to cool down but I’ll be good for the next leg.” Overall Danny is lying 01:13:54 behind the leader overall. Among the women, the triple winner of the event, Laurence Klein, suffered from the heat on Wednesday. Sheer strength of mind and her children enabled her to finish the race in 5th place, letting her American rival Nikki Kimball extend away in front, 1st in 10h48’38’’. The resulting podium included a sterling performance by Irish runner Claire Morrissey just 47’32” in 2nd behind the American, with French runner Aline Pierron just topping compatriot Amandine Roux in 4th.

4th LEG

MEN

1. Salameh Al Aqra (JOR) 7h14’00’’
2. Rachid El Morabity (MAR), 23’18’’ behind
3. Carlos Sa (POR), 26’19’’ behind

6. Danny Kendall (GBR), 50’00”

WOMEN

1. Nikki Kimball (USA), 10h48’38’’
2. Claire Morrissey (IRL), 47’32’’ behind
3. Aline Pierron (FRA), 55’58’’ behind
4. Amandine Roux (FRA), 1h02’39’’ behind
5. Laurence Klein (FRA), 1h18’10’’ behind

OVERALL RANKING

MEN

1. Rachid El Morabity (MAR), 16h53’55
2. Salameh Al Aqra (JOR), 9’24’’ behind
3. Mohamad Ahansal (MAR), 20’22’’ behind

6. Danny Kendall (GBR), 01h13:54 behind

WOMEN

1. Nikki Kimball (USA), 24h11’08’’
2. Laurence Klein (FRA), 59’52’’ behind
3. Amandine Roux (FRA), 2h27’00’’ behind
4. Aline Pierron (FRA), 3h08’40’’ behind