Rachid El Morabity is a nine-time winner of the Marathon des Sables and a Moroccan running legend.
Born in March 1982, Morabity won his first Marathon des Sables title in 2011 before winning eight in a row between 2014 and 2022, completely dominating one of the world’s toughest endurance races.
Trained by Moroccan legends Lahcen and Mohamad Ahansal, his maiden victory was the first since 1997 in which someone other than the two brothers had won the six-day race through Morocco’s Saharan Desert – and he did so wearing a pair of Mohamad’s shoes and backpack.
He had not been expecting to participate in the 2011 race, but when his friends’ team had a spot free he was drafted in and went on to secure the surprise victory.
Like the Ahansal brothers, Morabity hails from the town of Zagora and the Berber community in Southern Morocco, where he has worked in one of the town’s big industries – tourism. His family were watermelon farmers and his brother, Mohamed El Morabity, is also a Marathon des Sables runner and has finished as runner-up to in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022.
Morabity has said he grew up playing sport, particularly football, and moved into running when an athletics teacher spotted his potential. His preparation for the Marathon des Sables takes place around five months before the event, training for in three-hour blocks, often twice a day in sand dunes and mountains.
Morabity has organised running groups in Zagora along with childhood friend and fellow runner Abdelhadi El Moustahli, helping to find the next generation of Berber running talent.
The Moroccan has been an ambassador for Lorient-based freeze-dried food company Lyophilise & Co and has been sponsored by Raidlight. He has ran the Marathon des Sables under the Team TGCC banner, the General Construction Works of Casablanca.
Rachid El Morabity record and results
Rachid El Morabity is best known for his dominance of the Marathon des Sables, having won the brutal desert ultra a total of nine times.
Including his first win in 2011, he has won nine of the eleven editions that have taken place since – including eight in a row from 2014 to 2022. He was only denied the 2012 title when he suffered a serious injury 1km from the finish. His fastest time on the Marathon des Sables is 18:31:24, which he set in 2019.
El Morabity has participated in a number of other races outside of his specialty event; in 2011, he won the 105km Moroccan race Ultra Trail Atlas Toubkal, and in 2015, he came second at his first race outside of his home country at the French Long Tour des 4 Massifs.
In 2016, he was runner-up at the 55km Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc Orsières-Champex-Chamonix (UTMB OCC), finishing in a time of 5:43:23, before participating in the 72km La SaintéLyon later that year, finishing 60th.
In 2017, he competed in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix, (UTMB CCC), coming 22nd.
Later that year he won a Peruvian edition of the Marathon des Sables, and in 2018 he triumphed at the Tunisian race Ultra Mirage El Djerid in a time of 9:11:00, a title he defended the following year. 2019 also saw him win the NomadsRun Ultra in Morocco.
Morabity competed in a host of races in 2022, winning the Al Marmoom Ultramarathon Desert in the United Arab Emirates, as well as the Italian Cro Wild Trail and the Omani Himam Trail Run Race. He also came fourth at the 68km Davos X-Trails in Switzerland.