ECHO FROM THE BIVOUAC
The Longest Day
The long stage of the 27th Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES kept all its promises with a dramatic turn of events at the top of the race and unforgettable emotions and images for all. Wednesday and Thursday were probably the most striking days of this year's edition with the 81.5km long 4th stage, between El Maharch and djebel El Mraïer. Unforseeable new episode amongst the leaders: last year's winner and so far absolute master of the race, Rachid El Morabity was forced to withdraw. The stage finished under a violent storm which made the last kilometres even more epic for some competitors.
The Inspectors - Bivouac stewards
Just hours after the end of their leg, overcome with fatigue, laid out in their tent, the runners look forward to the moment when the emails are distributed. This distribution is orchestrated by the bivouac stewards, for whom this isn't the only role. Numbering sixteen in total, they're here to ensure that everything runs smoothly in the bivouac. Marie-Jeanne, Nathalie, Virginie, Jean–Jacques... their arrival is very keenly awaited, as Jean-Charles, Alexis, Pascal, Franck, Sébastien and Hervé from tent No.16 confirm in unison: "It's so nice to see them everyday. They get our news and always have big smiles on their faces. And if we're feeling a bit down, they know just what to say to make things better". The other essential link in the MDS chain is provided by the inspectors. Positioned at each CP (checkpoint) and at the finish, there are twenty-eight of them to check off the competitors' course cards, note down their respective passage times if the computer fails and distribute the water rations. Here again, the psychological aspect is an even more important factor according to François Laratta (D196-FRA): "The checkpoint passages are good for the spirits, as you know that you're covering some ground. Above all though, the inspectors are there to encourage you not to give up. Their delight at being there is a real pleasure to see!"