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Sand, sun, heat … and more sand: Day 1 of the Marathon des Sables in pictures

A recap of photos and results from stage one at Marathon des Sables

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

They call it the toughest footrace on earth and based on today’s first stage of the 36th edition of the Marathon des Sables (MDS), it’s easy to understand why. Just covering the event was enough of a challenge – our jeep got stuck in the sand twice and we pulled another one out just before today’s second checkpoint, too.

But the almost 1,000 runners taking part in this year’s race are arguably much tougher than the jeeps carrying journalists trying to cover them, and much of the field appeared to cruise through the first 30.3 km stage without too much issue, working their way through the varied terrain that included everything from rocks to full-fledged sand dunes.

The day began at 28 degrees C an hour before the start of the race and, by the time the athletes hit the sand dunes after their 9 a.m. start, it was well into the high 30s.

You can read more about the Marathon des Sables here.

Here’s a recap of the day’s action in words and pictures – you can find results from today’s race here.

Richard Lavictoire from Terrebonne, Quebec looks relaxed before the start of today’s first stage. He would go on to finish the day in 4:25:31. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
Gators are the name of the game here, especially for the sandier stages … Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
Spiderman is in the house! Chris Gale is raising money for Angelman Syndrome through this year’s race – he got some early video and photo time by running with the leaders at the start. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
It got sandy in a hurry. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
Local guides and camels carrying gear to the next camp. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
Eight-time MDS winner Rachid El Morabity flew through the first stage in 2:04:16, 21 seconds ahead of fellow Moroccan Azid Yachou (2:04:37). Rachid’s younger brother, Mohammed, who has finished second behind his brother here the last four editions, took third in 2:10:16. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
Anna Comet of Spain ran 2:52:20 to win the first stage at MDS. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon