Things didn’t get any easier for the athletes competing at the Marathon des Sables (MDS) this week during stage 3. The race is down to 838 competitors from the 897 who started the race on Sunday. The winds continue to wreak havoc on the athletes competing in the race, but as if that weren’t enough, the 32.1 km stage included lots of sand and a spectacular climb up the El Otfal jebel (mountain).
I feel like I am in “a half hell,” said France’s Emmanuelle Romanzi. “It was hard: I couldn’t see three metres into the dunes, the sand was lashing my legs… I had to keep my head up, grit my teeth, and put one foot in front of the other. It’s part of the experience, but if we could avoid having that every day…”
The men’s race continues to be an exciting battle between three Moroccan favourites, with Aziz Yachou taking the day in a sprint to the line over Mohammed El Morabity, the four-time runner-up at this race. Mohammed’s older brother, Rachid, the eight-time winner here at MDS, continues to lose time on his two countrymen after winning the first stage of the race on Sunday.
After taking the lead early, Rachid was passed by Yachou and his younger brother, with the two racing to the finish line together. Yachou sprinted to the win, with Rachid finishing a minute behind the pair.
In the women’s race, Spain’s Anna Comet continues to lead the way, but couldn’t drop the rest of the women until halfway through the stage on the climb up El Otfal. She would pull clear from there on, though, with France’s Sylviane Cussot continuing her run of runner-up finishes behind the Spaniard. Aziz Elamrany rounded out the top three.
Next, the athletes take on the “long” fourth stage of the race – 86 km.
Stage 3 results:
1. D906 – Anna COMET (ESP) – 3:26:49
2. D129 – Sylvaine CUSSOT (FRA) – 3:35:51
3. D6 – Aziza ELAMRANY (MAR) – 3:49:11
1. D15 – Aziz YACHOU (MAR) – 2:36:43
2. D2 – Mohamed EL MORABITY (MAR) – 2:36:43
3. D1 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MAR) – 2:38:21
4. D126 – Julien CHORIER (FRA) – 3:05:17
5. D819 – Jordan TROPF (USA) – 3:09:06
General Classification after three stages:
1. D906 – Anna COMET (ESP) – 10:25:26
2. D129 – Sylvaine CUSSOT (FRA) – 10:51:02
3. D5 – Aziza RAJI (MAR) – 11:44:37
1. D15 – Aziz YACHOU (MAR) – 7:50:12
2. D2 – Mohamed EL MORABITY (MAR) – 7:54:39
3. D1 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MAR) – 7:58:59