Distance runners Aldo Ramírez and Rocío Carrión took second and third in their respective categories at the first-ever Marathon des Sables (MDS) in Peru. More than 300 athletes from 40 countries traversed 155 miles of desert between Nazca and Paracas, explained the Peruvian Export and Tourism Promotion Board (PROMPERÚ).
Moroccan Rachid El Morabity took top honors, followed by Ramírez from Peru and Frenchman Erik Clavery in the men’s race. Nathalie Mauclair of France was the fastest woman, beating out compatriot Mélanie Rousset and Carrión from Peru.
The six-stage footrace – one of the toughest in the world – winds its way through the incomparable landscapes of the Peruvian desert. It was a hotly contested race, and despite their exhaustion, athletes’ enthusiasm and high spirits continued unabated until they crossed the finish line.
Moroccan Rachid El Morabity, five-time champion of Marathon Des Sables, held for 32 years in Morocco, joined other runners of various nationalities in stressing the difficulty of Peru’s terrain at each stage of the race. The racecourse started in Cahuachi, passed through Coyungo, Samaca, Ocucaje, Barlovento and Mendieta, and finished in the La Catedral (The Cathedral) area of the Paracas National Reserve.
“The Marathon des Sables Peru was an unforgettable adventure for competitors from Peru and abroad, and also provided a chance to promote one of the lesser-known wonders of our country: our desert lapped by ocean waves. The competition was covered by news outlets like CNN, Euronews, Agence France Presse and Reuters, giving thousands around the globe a little taste of Peru,” said Isabella Falco, PROMPERÚ’s Director of Communications and Country Image.
The well-known Marathon des Sables (French for Marathon of the Sands) is a self-supported race where each competitor must run carrying all their food and provisions for the days-long competition in the middle of the desert, making it one of the world’s most extreme challenges. Each day, the race organizers prepare camps to receive and provide medical care to athletes.
The beauty of the landscapes, the natural riches, the mysticism of the archaeological sites and the course’s difficulty captivated the racers and organizers, confirming Peru’s growing reputation as a destination for world-class competitions.
The work of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR) and PROMPERÚ made it possible to hold the race in Peru. The National Service of Protected Natural Areas (Spanish acronym: SERNANP) of the Ministry of Environment, along with the Ministry of Culture, helped establish the route, ensuring that Peru’s natural and cultural treasures were protected and respected. The Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior also lent a hand to ensure the safety of all competitors, and Customs and Immigration gave assistance as well.