The Marathon de Sables is considered one of the toughest races on the planet. The event requires endurance athletes and ultrarunners to cover a 251 km (156 mile) course through the Sahara Desert in Morocco in six days time. It is known to be a true test of will and determination that can crush the soul of even the best runners in the world. This year the “marathon of the sands” saw an unlikely finisher however in the form of a small dog who joined the proceedings on day 2 and just kept going to the finish line.
According to the Adventure Journal, the dog –– who is aptly named Cactus –– simply wandered onto the race course on the second day of the event and decided to just tag along with the more than 800 runners who had signed up on purpose. Over the following five days he ran more than 100 miles (160 km) and even managed to take 76th place on stage 3 of the MDS. Each day, race doctors would check in on the pup, making sure his paws were in good condition and that he was eating and drinking as well. Out on the course, Cactus’s new friends shared their water too, while at night he’d make himself at home wherever he could find a welcoming space.
Once the scrappy little dog became a familiar face amongst the runners, organizers issued Cactus an official race number and even gave him a SPOT tracker to keep tabs on his whereabout each day. At the end of the week, he even went home with an official finishers medal, which was well earned following more than five days of running in the desert.
Apparently, Cactus does have an owner and is well cared for and loved. He simply has a bit of a wanderer in him and likes to go on long journeys from time to time. His owner posted a message to Facebook in the midst of the race saying, “If I can pick him up I will but I also know he’s having the greatest time so please people let me know where he is now and where you are heading tomorrow… I miss him but he’s having fun. He is a nomad dog and often travels 40 Km a day around this area…just for fun. Please look after him and get him home…”
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