It is at the very foot of the ruins of the city of Cahuachi that the first bivouac of the MARATHON DES SABLES PERU has been established, 1,500 years after the discontinuation of activity at this ceremonial centre of the Nazca civilisation. The competitors' individual orange tents contrast with the beige adobe structures, built with clay and straw bricks. A few steps away from this centre of history, another cerimony is taking place - not related to sacrifices, rather to safety: the purpose is to check that each competitor meets all the requirements to take the start of one of the toughest footraces on earth.
THE EVENT OF THE DAY: A CEREMONY TO BLESS THE MDS PERU
This afternoon, in the presence of the Mayor of Nazca, Alfonso CANALES VELARDE, the "Apuyaku Priest" Felix QUISPE SARMIENTO led a vibrant ceremony to bless the 300 competitors and 250 members of the organisation team of this first MDS PERU. The "Last Descendant of the Nazca People" won over the hearts of those participating in the ceremony with his words full of love and positive vibrations – a definite source of additional motivation for all those competitors who will be embarking on a personal quest tomorrow.
THE STAGE OF THE DAY: TECHNICAL AND MEDICAL CHECKS
Safety is embedded in the DNA of the MARATHON DES SABLES: the organisation team gives the highest priority to the competitors' health, over any other aspect. This explains why the day of technical and medical checks, before the actual race start, is an unavoidable part of every MDS. The marshals carefully check that each competitor's equipment and food meet the requirements of a week-long footrace in self-sufficiency conditions in a desert environment. As for doctors, they verify the health condition of every competitor and check the medical certificate and the resting electrocardiogram they have made over the last weeks. After completing those checks, each competitor receives a bib number, together with a SPOT beacon - the ultimate safety item that will enable the Race HQ to track the progress of each participant. And tomorrow morning, the race will start...and so will food self-sufficiency!
OVERVIEW OF THE 242.3 KM OF THE COURSE
A 242.3-km course is awaiting competitors for this first edition of the MDS PERU. The 6 stages offer a challenge which is quite typical of a MARATHON DES SABLES: a rather harsh start (37.2, then 42.2 km), a somewhat easier third stage (32.7 km) before the long stage (68.4 km) – feared by every competitor, the traditional Marathon stage (42.2 km), and to conclude on a fast note, the much shorter last stage (19.6 km). The total height difference is estimated at around 2,500 metres, again a quite standard figure for an MDS. The course's altitude will range of 0 to 700 meters (Stage 2). The terrain will be extremely varied, with oueds (obviously...!), narrow canyons, steep ascents and descents, dune fields, rockier zones, stony dirt roads, beaches, and towards the end of the course, giant sand dunes. The maximum time for these 242.3 km is 82.5 hours, i.e. a minimum average speed of 2.94 km/h, which should enable the less experienced competitors to make it to the finish line. For the top runners, a mere 20 hrs will suffice to finish this first edition of the MDS PERU.
Gediminas GRINIUS (D236-LTU): "I had filled up my travel bag with all the equipment I had at home...now, I'll have to choose..."
Gloria NASR (D133-FRA): "Never before have I used poles on an MDS event, but here, when I see the giant dunes and the height difference indicated in the roadbook, I think I'll take them...
Julien CHORIER (D111-FRA): "I slept pretty well...and was even a bit too warm."
Régis NOIRIEL (D119-FRA): "I made myself flip flops with soles and laces. They weigh almost nothing and are very handy in the evening, after the stage."
Hugo GARLAND (D144-GB): My backpack weighs 8.12 kg – I'm happy, it's perfect!" - indeed, the bag's weight must be in a 6.5-15 kg range.