The wind blowing across Ouarzazate didn’t manage to upset the prize-giving for the 27th Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES. The ceremony began with the awarding of some special prizes and some moments of high emotion, including the calling up of Didier Benguigui, a visually-impaired runner, and his guide Gilles, as well as Joseph, the eldest runner in the event who, at the age of 80, completed his 7th Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES. “I was very moved by the words of encouragement and the warmth of the competitors towards me, says the talkative Joseph. I reached my physical limits but not my mental ones. It was my last Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES. I’m leaving the way clear for the younger ones now.” As planned, the grandest ovation was reserved for the Pompiers de Vannes (Firemen of Vannes), nicknamed the ‘extra-terrestrials’ by a lot of runners. Every evening, in the bivouac, the arrival of the Joelette triggered a genuine outpouring of enthusiasm and admiration from all the runners. This was obviously mirrored during the special prize-giving. “This is also down to you, admitted one of the members of this incredible team. Every evening, your welcome across the finish line enabled us to wipe the slate clean and head back out the following day in our mission to provide these children with an exceptional adventure.”
Following on from the special awards, came the all important final winners list of the 2012 edition, with the men’s top 10 notably featuring a wealth of international runners (1. Jordanian, 2 Moroccans, 2 French, 2 Italians, 1 Japanese, 1 Portuguese, 1 Slovenian).
After half a lap of honour around Hotel Cos’ swimming pool, the backdrop for this ceremony, the Jordanian Salameh Al Aqra admitted to a deep sense of pleasure at finally making a name for himself. “It’s an absolute delight to win on my 7th attempt, he explains. I’d finished in the Top 5 on six previous occasions. I’d like to spare a thought for Rachid El Morabity. I’d have really liked him to have gone all the way to the finish to make the competition more amusing right the way to the end. I hope he’ll make a fast comeback. Thank you too to the Ahansal brothers, who enabled me to run ever faster.” The same emotion was evident for the runner from Reims, Laurence Klein, who stood out for the 3rd time (2007, 2011 and 2012). However, it was Moroccan Aziz, 3rd in the overall standing when the thank you speeches were ringing out, who summed up the competition perfectly: “You’re all champions!” So true.
. Didier Benguigui and his guide Gilles
. Christian Ginter, 25th edition and a finisher for the 25th time
. Pompier de Vannes (Firemen of Vannes)
. Jean-Paul Legendre who came with his whole team
. Steeve, (Running the Sahara), a representative in Great Britain, who came with 250 runners and is expecting 350 next year
. Joseph, the eldest in the race (80 years of age)
. Michael De Oliveira, the youngest in the race (18 years of age)