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Fitness and adventure enthusiasts often look for outlets to release their energy and engage in adrenaline-rushing activities. Unbeknownst to some, there is a stretching experience in the heat of the Sahara Desert referred to as “The Toughest Footrace on Earth.” The legendary Marathon des Sables carries this nickname, as it bears a reputation for its unique position in one of the most uninhabitable environments known to man.

What Is the Marathon des Sables?

This iconic footrace is a six-day ultra-marathon of over 150 miles. Discard your typical view of runners on a flat path because this marathon defies the typical expectations of a marathon. Instead, these racers tread and sprint through the harsh terrain of sand dunes and desert territory, with no nearby modern civilization. At first glance, this footrace may sound like a nightmare, but it has proven to be one of the most uniting experiences among those who have taken on this challenge and proven themselves to be more capable than their doubts would have them falsely believe.

At each day’s end, the marathoners settle down in communal tents and share conversations with one another over this exhilarating journey they find themselves on. This grueling run exposes its participants to the sun’s relentless presence, heavy sand and extreme temperatures. However, despite its difficulty and intimidation, the Marathon des Sables has been effortlessly recruiting marathoners hailing from all over the world. The interest in this footrace has transcended cultural differences and language barriers, making it a truly unifying experience for those who have taken on the challenge.

Past competitors have emerged from this event with newfound pride and a sense of accomplishment after having pushed their bodily limits for a week straight. Blood, sweat and tears become just as mandatory to the race as their equipment. But through these challenges, marathoners power on and defy the odds.

How Did the Marathon des Sables Originate?

Given its harsh conditions, many individuals wonder who could have first thought up such an event in the first place. All of the credit belongs to a French man named Patrick Bauer, who set out on a 12-day walk across the Sahara desert, crossing 200 miles in 1984. Upon returning from this eye-opening experience, he felt compelled to open this experience up to others. In 1986, his dream to begin the Marathon des Sables began. At the time, only 23 competitors participated in this challenge. Nowadays, the race is made up of 1,000 runners and hundreds of volunteers and is covered by hundreds of journalists. Interested participants can learn more about registering for this marathon at its main website.