You're going to cover 250 km in seven days during the MDS PERU. Did you know that, well before your time, during the Inca Empire (from the 13th to the 16th centuries), some men covered 200 km in a single day? Fleet-footed Inca messengers called chaskis were capable of carrying messages over staggering distances in record time. Almost 45,000 km of trails criss-crossed the Inca Empire. They featured regular rest stops that enabled the chaskis to take turns. Think about it when you're on the start line in November: you're following the footsteps of these illustrious messengers.
No doubt you're familiar with the famous Nazca Lines, incredible geoglyphs that are breathtaking to behold from the sky. Almost 800 figures, including a number of animals, may be found in a relatively small area. They're the work of the Nazca civilisation, which created them between the fifth and the seventh centuries. You'll be running very close to the area where they're located, so keep an eye out for them!
Here's a great question: how's the weather in the Ica desert in early December? There's no need to pack an umbrella in your MDS UltraBag. It shouldn't rain, as the area is particularly arid. Instead, you should bring sunscreen and a cap. You should also bring light clothing, as the temperature may be as high as 35°C in the shade and 45°C in the sun. At night, the temperature may drop to around 10°C. Be careful not to bring a sleeping bag that's too light.
Spiders, scorpions and snakes — what exactly do you need to watch out for? Each year at the MDS MAROC, a few competitors have quite a fright when they discover a scorpion on their bivouac or cross paths with a snake path in one stage. However, you should know that you're unlikely to encounter these creatures. The noise and vibrations generated by the entire organising team and other competitors cause them to flee the scene. Even so, you should take a few precautions: avoid walking barefoot, shake out your clothes and shoes before you put them on, be careful when you're gathering wood and don't panic if you find yourself nose-to-snout with a snake. Generally, these creepy-crawlies are more afraid of us than we are of them, and flee on all four legs (or however many legs they have — in some cases, zero!).
Hats, socks and ponchos — Peru is the country of alpaca wool. Alpacas, which resemble sheep with a little giraffe mixed in, live exclusively in the highlands of the Andes cordillera. Alpaca fleece is light, soft, silky, strong, warm and insulating. It's even better than technical fleece!
The Peruvian currency is the nuevo sol. Even though you'll probably have no use for it in the middle of the desert, it's best to carry a little cash in anticipation of inevitable small expenses before and after the MDS. Warning: bank cards are often rejected, and 'large' banknotes are refused on a regular basis. It's best to make change and use small banknotes (10, 20 or 50 soles) or coins.
Admittedly, you certainly won't be enjoying the fine flavours of Peruvian cuisine in your tent in the middle of the Ica desert. You will, however, have the opportunity to taste them after you receive your finisher medal! Don't leave before you've savoured the delicacy of ceviche, a dish of raw fish lightly marinated in a citrus juice and spiced with peppers, and perhaps tried a little Pisco, a type of brandy made from grapes, either neat or in a cocktail. Oh, and good news: the local beers are very good!
A llama is to Peru as a camel is to Morocco: impossible to dissociate from the country. Yet, in the Ica desert, you're unlikely to cross paths with one, since they live at high altitudes in mountainous areas. Did you know that both llamas as well as camels are camelids?
When mention is made of Peruvian music, a pan flute springs to mind. In reality, traditional Peruvian music is richly varied and regional. In addition to a pan flute, one might hear the sounds of an ocarina (a wind instrument that resembles a hairdryer or a goose's head) and a cajón (a box-shaped drum).
Perhaps you've already read the story of Remigio HUAMÁN QUISPE. This Peruvian skyrunner finished in fifth place in the 2017 MDS MAROC, his first. He was confirmed as an ambassador for his country in June 2017, and he'll be present in November to welcome you and help you to discover the Ica desert — if you can manage to keep up with him! Because despite his very friendly nature, Remigio's number-one desire is, of course, to win the first MDS PERU.