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RUN247 / Running Race Guides / Marathon des Sables 2024: Route, live tracking & how to enter
12-22 Apr 2024
TBC
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Morocco

Marathon des Sables 2024: Route, live tracking & how to enter

Billed as the ‘toughest footrace on earth’, the 2024 version of the Marathon des Sables is a 252.8km (157-mile) six-day ultra marathon that takes place in the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco.

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Date, start time & live tracking 

Stage one of the Marathon des Salbes. [Photo credit: Cimbaly-ABENKHELIFA@MDS2022]

The 2024 Marathon des Sables takes place between Sunday, April 14 and Saturday, April 20.

You can follow the race as it unfolds via our live updates page here.

Marathan des Sables runs a race tracking website to follow competitions. They do so by tracking the geolocation through ‘spot’ tags – click here to follow live.

The tracking devices will allow the race organiser to ensure no competitors get lost on the course.

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Marathon des Sables Race Route  

The exact route of the race is unknown, but the distance – 252km – is known, and is split up into six stages over seven days as follows this year:

Sunday April 14
Stage 1 – 31.1km

Monday April 15
Stage 2 – 40.8km

Tuesday April 16 / Wednesday April 17
Stage 3 – 85.3km

Thursday April 18
Stage 4 – 43.1km

Friday April 19
Stage 5 – 31.4km

Saturday April 20
Stage 6 – 21.1km
(‘solidarity’ stage, must be completed, but not timed)

In addition to the distance, competitors must also combat the rough Saharan terrain, plenty of elevation, debilitating heat as well as carrying their supplies.

This year, there’s an increased amount of checkpoints, so the competitors can refill their water more frequently, allowing them to carry less weight on the stages. CPs will be spaced on average between 7km and 12km apart.

The course will be marked every 500m (dependent on the terrain) and each runner will be given a detailed book of the course.

Facts, Tips & FAQ 

With the length of the course, the terrain, and the heat, runners will need to take all advice on board before committing in the Marathon des Sables.

Runners will need to bring, and carry, their entire food intake – between 21,000-28,000 calories for the seven days. Freeze-dried food is the recommended choice in an effort to reduce the amount of weight carried on course.

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are the most important food groups. Water will be provided – with 120,000 litres consumed during the event – at the departure point, check points and arrival on each day.

Stage 4 of the Marathon des Sables. [Photo credit: Franck Oddoux – CIMBALY _MDS 2022]

The course is the equivalent of five and a half regular marathons while you carry equipment on your back – walking parts of the course is completely acceptable.

Mental preparation is as important as physical preparation for the event, the challenge to complete the course is tough and can be mentally draining.

With the temperature in the Sahara peaking at 50 degrees Celsius, headwear is a must. Wildlife on the course, including snakes, are rarely seen. However, runners are advised to check their kit thoroughly prior to embarking each day.

Marathon des Sables puts on Bivouacs – eight-man tents with groundsheets. These are allocated prior to the races and runners must choose their tent from within the space reserved for their registration country.

How to enter the Marathon des Sables 

Runners can enter the race by the Marathon des Sables official website via the registration page. The cost of entry for the event is €3,190 for an individual entry and €3,290 per team member for teams.

The official website lists number of requirements to compete:

  • Accept the rules, which govern the race.
  • Meet all deadlines for payments.
  • Meet all deadlines for completion of registration forms (an online form must be completed after registration).
  • Keep your contact details up to date.
  • Provide a sealed letter addressed to the Medical Director if you are undergoing long-term treatment for any chronic disease.
  • Provide an ECG and medical certificate signed by a doctor. This must be presented the day before the start of the race.
  • Take out insurance that will (as a minimum) cover you for cancellation in case of illness or injury prior to the race.

Marathon des Sables records and past winners

Men’s Past winners 

  • 10 – Lahcen Ahansal (Morocco) – 1997, 1999-2007
  • 9 – Rachid El Morabity (Morocco) – 2011, 2014-2019, 2021-22
  • 5 – Mohamad Ahansal (Morocco) – 1998, 2008-2010, 2013
  • 4 – Hassan Sebtaoui (France) – 1987, 1989-1991
  • 3 – André Derksen (Russia) – 1994-1996
  • 2 – Mohamed Bensalah (Morocco) – 1992-93
  • 2 – Bernard Gaudin (France) – 1986, 1988
  • 1 – Mohamed El Morabity (Morocco) – 2023
  • 1 – Salameh Al Aqra (Jordan) – 2012

Record Time: Bernard Gaudin (France) – 1988 (14:39:44)

Women’s Past Winners

  • 3 – Laurence Fricotteaux-Klein (France) – 2007, 2011-12
  • 3 – Simone Kayser (Luxembourg) 2002, 2004-05
  • 2 – Elisabet Barnes (Sweden) – 2015, 2017
  • 2 – Touda Didi (Morocco) – 2008-09
  • 2 – Rossana Pellizzari (Italy) – 1997-98
  • 2 – Moniqúe Frussote (France) – 1991-92
  • 2 – Marie-Ange Malcuit (France) – 1987-88
  • 1 – Maryline Nakache (France) – 2023
  • 1 – Anna Comet (Spain) – 2022
  • 1 – Aziza Raji (Morocco) – 2021
  • 1 – Ragna Debats (Netherlands) – 2019
  • 1 – Magdalena Boulet (USA) – 2018
  • 1 – Natalia Sedykh (Russia) – 2016
  • 1 – Nikki Kimball (USA) – 2014
  • 1 – Meghan Hicks (USA) – 2013
  • 1 – Mònica Aguilera Viladomiu (Spain) – 2010
  • 1 – Géraldine Courdesse (France) – 2006
  • 1 – Magali Juvenal (France) – 2003
  • 1 – Franca Fiacconi (Italy) – 2001
  • 1 – Pascal Martin (France) – 2000
  • 1 – Lisa Smith (USA) – 1999
  • 1 – Anke Molkenthin (Germany) – 1996
  • 1 – Béatrice Reymann (France) – 1995
  • 1 – Valentina Liakhova (Russia) – 1994
  • 1 – Irina Petrova (Russia) – 1993
  • 1 – Claire Garnier (France) – 1990
  • 1 – Claude Battistelli (France) 1989
  • 1 – Christiane Plumere (France) – 1986

Record Time: Béatrice Reymann (France) – 1995 (21:25:22)

*No race in 2020.

Marathon des Sables kit list

Mandatory equipment:

  • backpack MDS or equivalent
  • sleeping bag,
  • head torch and a complete set of spare batteries,
  • 10 safety pins,
  • compass, with 1° or 2° precision,
  • lighter,
  • a whistle,
  • knife with metal blade,
  • tropical disinfectant,
  • venom pump,
  • a signalling mirror,
  • one aluminium survival sheet,
  • one tube of sun cream,
  • 200 euro or equivalent in dirhams
  • passport or for Moroccan residents, identity card valid at least until the end of the stay in Morocco. BUT for security reasons, it is strongly recommended to have a passport valid at least one month later; failing this, AOI declines all responsibility
  • original medical certificate provided by AOI, filled in and signed by the doctor
  • original ECG and its tracing

Marathon Kit:

This is supplied by the organisers and is issued during the technical and administrative checks in Morocco. It will include: 

  • a road book issued on 21 April,
  • Identification marks (see list ART.8),
  • salt tablets,
  • sachets for the toilets

A luminous stick will be issued at CP3 of the non-stop stage. The distress beacon must be given back to the organization at the finish line.

Stuart Dick
Written by
Stuart Dick
Stuart is a graduate of the University of Sunderland with a masters' degree in Sports Journalism. He spends a lot of his time running and cycling around West Yorkshire, England.

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