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Like a grain of sand in the pack

09 april - Stage 3

The third stage of the 34th MARATHON DES SABLES surprised the pack with its succession of difficulties and the scorching heat along the race course. The backpack's weight and the feet wounds only made matters worse: the MDS is definitely not a walk in the park.

The difficulty of the MARATHON DES SABLES sometimes lies in an unexpected moment: most competitors were mainly fearing yesterday's stage – with its long sand dune section – and tomorrow's one – with its 76.3 km – but very few were wary of Stage 3. And yet! With its 37.1 km, it took place under a hellish heat, with screened temperatures exceeding 30°C and experienced temperature beyond 45°C... MDS competitors crossed three solid dune fields, black stony sections where experienced temperatures were even higher, two wadis and technical areas where their feet were never assured of stepping on steady ground. At the finish line, both elite runners and regular competitors seemed affected – sometimes remaining for a long time in the shade of the finish line marquees before heading toward their tent for a well-deserved rest...

Despite such difficulties, competitors remain enthusiastic, such as Siawhua LIM (D033-MAL): "It's my first MDS: it's very tough but it's an incredibly beautiful experience." Same story for Marc PANIANDY (D353-FRA), who is discovering everything related to the MDS and enjoying his participation: "The race, the bivouac – it's all new for me… My tent mates are taking care of me, the volunteers are amazing, and I'm competing for a disabled children's charity: all this is motivating me to become a finisher!"

Another "competitor" is also discovering everything about the event: the dog that has fallen in love with the MARATHON DES SABLES since yesterday morning. He started following in the competitor's footsteps close to CP1 and crossed the Merzouga dunes and the rocky plateau leading to the bivouac. Always eager to be stroked (and receive food), he slept at the heart of the bivouac, and this morning, he took the start of Stage 3 and crossed the finish line in the Top 100! In just two days, he has thus covered at least 57 km in the desert... Half of the bivouac wants to adopt him, but he seems to live in an inn close to the CP1 of Stage 2. We'll keep you posted…

Like Ragna DEBATS (D819-NED) – see the paragraph on the Top Female Runners –, many competitors are suffering from the weight of their backpack. Almost 70-year-old Monique MUHLEN (D684-LUX) seems frail, but her morale is not affected: "I'm doing fine...apart from my backpack, which is a little too heavy. On the start line, it represented 22% of my body weight… But the further we go, the lighter it becomes, so I'm feeling better." Sébastien NAIN (D647-FRA), a candidate for the Top 15, is also suffering from his backpack's weight: "My shoulder has been hurting me since I had an accident, and with the backpack and the wind, it's extremely painful. I cracked this morning and shed some tears." Feet are also among the chief concerns of the pack. Arnaud GUILLEVIC (D170-FRA) is not spared and has been suffering since the first stage: "It's really hurting, but I must hold on. And until now, we haven't seen the Camels", he said this morning before the stage start. The Camels are the sweeper team of the race: being overtaken by this friendly convoy unfortunately means you must drop out…

TOP FEMALE RUNNERS: A CRACK IN THE RAMPART?

Up to now, Ragna DEBATS (D819-NED) seemed imperial – but is she really? Today, during Stage 3, she faced her first difficulties of this 34th MARATHON DES SABLES. Immediately after crossing the finish line, she took her backpack off and sat down: "My stomach was feeling bad, but more importantly, I had to run with a crooked backpack – it's been extremely hard. Yesterday, my back was chafing against my pack, and I must find a solution to prevent it from rubbing against the affected areas. I should purchase another backpack, but I don't think it's possible…" These difficulties didn't prevent Ragna from increasing the gap with her chasers, leaving a very happy Aziza RAJI (D630-MAR) more than 1hr 30min behind her in the general classification. American Meghan HICKS completes the provisional podium...but the dice are far from being cast.

TOP MALE RUNNERS: BIS REPETITA

Rachid EL MORABITY (D001-MAR) crossed the finish line of Stage 3 of the 34th MARATHON DES SABLES in the first place and in tip top condition: "I'm delighted to have made a difference. I increased the gap and have enough experience to manage tomorrow's Long Stage." His younger brother Mohamed is just behind him, followed by surprising Abdelaziz BAGHAZZA (D791-MAR), who is holding on at the highest level. Abdelkader EL MOUAZIZ (D007-MAR), Rachid's faithful companion, admits he "had difficulty in following the pace of the youngsters: they run too fast...I had to follow my own pace. Tomorrow is the Long Stage, and I didn't want to use too much energy." Julien CHORIER (D004-FRA), today's first European runner, finished in the sixth place: "Finally, I can express myself...it's a great pleasure! I initially followed the leaders, but when you're a Moroccan, you can still accelerate after two hours in the heat, and I couldn't… I'm able to deal with the terrain, but I'm really bothered by the heat." Tomorrow, the Long Stage might reshuffle the cards…

STAGE 3 RANKINGS

Women's Top 5*

RANK

BIB

RUNNER

TEAM

NAT.

TIME

1

819

Ragna DEBATS

TERRESDELEBRE/CADEMONTANA

NED

03:35:54

2

630

Aziza RAJI

 

MAR

04:03:37

3

2

Gemma GAME

 

GBR

04:11:56

4

756

Meghan HICKS

 

USA

04:21:10

5

611

Lauren WOODWISS

 

GBR

04:41:15

Men's Top 5*

RANK

BIB

RUNNER

TEAM

NAT.

TIME

1

1

Rachid EL MORABITY

MAROC TGCC TEAM

MAR

02:58:45

2

8

Mohamed EL MORABITY

MAROC TGCC TEAM

MAR

03:00:01

3

791

Abdelaziz BAGHAZZA

 

MAR

03:00:06

4

7

Abdelkader EL MOUAZIZ

MAROC TGCC TEAM

MAR

03:04:09

5

631

Hammou MOUDOUJI

 

MAR

03:09:35

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 3                            

Women's Top 5*

RANK

BIB

RUNNER

TEAM

NAT.

TOTAL TIME

1

819

Ragna DEBATS

TERRESDELEBRE/CADEMONTANA

NED

09:32:40

2

630

Aziza RAJI

 

MAR

11:17:07

3

756

Meghan HICKS

 

USA

11:41:39

4

2

Gemma GAME

 

GBR

11:49:19

5

611

Lauren WOODWISS

 

GBR

12:18:20

Men's Top 5*

RANK

BIB

RUNNER

TEAM

NAT.

TOTAL TIME

1

1

Rachid EL MORABITY

MAROC TGCC TEAM

MAR

08:10:21

2

8

Mohamed EL MORABITY

MAROC TGCC TEAM

MAR

08:12:59

3

7

Abdelkader EL MOUAZIZ

MAROC TGCC TEAM

MAR

08:27:16

4

791

Abdelaziz BAGHAZZA

 

MAR

08:45:10

5

719

Antonio ALONGI

 

ITA

08:46:55

Teams' TOP 5s*

MAROC TGCC TEAM              08:20:59
1 - Rachid EL MORABITY
2 - Aziz EL AKAD
3 - Abdelkader EL MOUAZIZ
4 - Mohamed EL MORABITY

TERDAV 1 / CENTRAKOR       09:22:01
1 - Merile ROBERT
2 - Julien CHORIER
3 - Damien DOUVRY
4 - Lhoucine AKHDAR

TERRESDELEBRE/CADEMONTANA        10:12:54
1 - Alejandro FRAGUELA BREIJO
2 - Ragna DEBATS --
3 - Albert GINE CID

NATUR RUNNING        11:28:35
1 - Laurent ALEX
2 - Maxime ALEX
3 - Nicolas GACON
4 - Christian LEROUX
5 - Bernard FOUILLAT
6 - Michel THEVENIN

TERRES D'AVENTURE 2         11:40:56
1 - Thomas CALLENS
2 - Moktar LAHCEN
3 - Mohamed FARAJ
4 - Laurence KLEIN

 

*Provisional rankings

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