Great experience and solitary race (about: 2006)|
J. C. from Barcelona (8/29/08)
6-10 previous marathons
| 1 Sahara Marathon
I did this race in 2006, and it was the first one. It's not comparable to other marathons, as this one is unique in some senses: most important, I think, is that during your stay there, you are hosted in a "haima" with a saharaui family (you are not alone, but with other runners) in a refugee camp. Saharaui hospitality went far beyond what I could expect, and the experience was simply great and had a deep impact.
The race is not as tough as you could expect from a course through the Sahara Desert. This is not "Marathon des Sables" or "Hoggar." In February weather is not hot there, not going over of 25 during day and staying below 10 during the night. Also, the ground is rocky most of the time, with just some parts of sand.
There's lots of water during the race, and some isotonic drinks and fruit as well, at some points. There is no public in the desert, and you are really alone there if you get out of your running pack during the race; but the race goes through 3 saharui settlements, where lots and lots of people will give you support. This is the best crowd support I've seen ever for a marathon.
It's not completely a marathon for a first-timer - though I did as a first-timer - but I was lucky that in 2006 the wind did not blow. But if you have run some marathons (or as me, you like risk to some degree), and would like to run a different marathon and at the same time learn more about saharaui culture, and supporting them (part of the fee of the marathon is used to improve refugee camps, and that is really needed), this is your race and your experience. There are also half marathon, 10K and 5K races if you don't dare to run the full marathon... but it's priceless to run a marathon on the empty land, the Sahara Desert.