ECHO FROM THE BIVOUAC
In a blasting heat but also in the most stunning settings, the 800 competitors still in the race have completed a major leg of the 27th Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES. That marathon stage, won by Moroccan runners Aziz El Akad and Meryem Khali, has taken them to the foot of the Merzouga dunes, last obstacle between them and their finisher’s medal.
They get around
After over thirty hours of walking, Malaysian Yee Ah Chew, 74 years of age, has just made the finish of the long leg in the 27th Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES. With the dunes as a backdrop, he received the traditional guard of honour from all the runners who had come to congratulate the last of their kind. Behind him, two men also cross the finish line, somewhat more discreetly, and make the most of the moment. They too have their welcoming committee. Naji and Abdelkader are the two camel drivers, who each day accompany those at the back of the pack alongside their dromedary. The two men usually work in tourism. Naji, 41 years of age, is a familiar face in the MARATHON DES SABLES and has participated in it for some 10 editions. Barely had he crossed the finish line, before he was lifted up triumphantly by Bachir’s men, who erect and dismantle all the tents. “I’m always very happy to be here, he says. This long leg was very difficult with the rain and the hail storm. We had a tough night with the cold.”
At 50 years of age, Abdelkhader is enthusiastically discovering this universe. “It’s not hard for those of us who are familiar with walking and living in the desert, he explains. If it was just down to us, we’d have finished long ago. However, you have to keep to the pace of those bringing up the rear. It’s absolutely incredible to see all these people from around the world who come to run in our desert. They’re really very courageous.” It’s a compliment which can easily be bounced back to these two men, who will ultimately have been walking the longest during this 27th Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES.