The Sahara Race, one of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathons from Racing The Planet got underway on Sunday. 80 competitors began the stage race ultra in the White Desert region of the Sahara. The event will continue through Saturday.
The Sahara is the largest non-polar desert in the World, and ranks as one of the hottest places on Earth as well. The course consists of six stages, ranging in length from 10 to 50 miles. Racers will run through the hot Egyptian sand, and past archeological sites which will mark checkpoints along the way.
So far we are through three stages and at this point of the race Andrew Murray of Scotland leads the way, with Mark Tamminga and Alexander Fernandez-Garcia, both of Canada, in second and third respectively. Tamminga has already won this year’s Gobi March, and last year’s Atacma Crossing. Sandra McCallum also of Canada, leads the women’s field. (What is it with these Ultra-runners from Canada?)
With several more long stages to go, and the heat of the desert pounding down on the, the race is still wide open. It should be interesting to see if Tamminga can win again, making him the first man to win 3 of the 4 Desert events. The finish line is once again in front of the Sphinx in Cairo, with the Pyramids dominating the background.
As a side note, I spent some time in the Sahara a few years back, and I can tell you, it is HOT! I can’t imagine running a marathon in those conditions. These are certainly some supremely gifted endurance athletes.
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