34th Marathon des Sables Recap Stage Two is Defined by Desert

Rabat – The dunes of Erg Chebbi defined the second stage of the Marathon des Sables (MDS) as runners spent nearly a third of the stage’s 32.5 kilometers racing through Morocco’s largest dune field.Competitors left the starting line at 8:30 a.m. and by noon temperatures had reached 29.5 degrees celsius—3 degrees hotter than the first stage.The dunes and heat caused half a dozen competitors to drop out of the MDS by 2 p.m. Only two competitors dropped following the mixed terrain of the first stage, bringing the total number of runners from 781. In general, 11 hours is the maximum time expected to complete the stage. The race’s top finishers for both the men’s and the women’s race made it it in less than five hours.View Also: Marathon des Sables’ Course Through Morocco’s DesertThe men’s raceThe El Morabity brothers firmly held on to first and second place, with Mohamed El Morabity finishing just six seconds ahead of his brother, Rachid, who won the first stage of the marathon on Sunday, April 7.Abdelkader El Mouaziz remained in the top five by coming in less than four minutes after the El Morabity brothers. The three runners, all members of the Maroc TGCC Team, worked together to stay orientated in the dunes.“I did a great job for our team,” Mouaziz said. “I was in charge of the compass in the dunes.”The end of the second stage also brought the MDS’ first international top five men’s finishers. Fourth and fifth place were taken by Antonio Alongi, from Italy and Merile Robert from France—a stark contrast from the Moroccan dominated stage one.Stage Two: Men’s Top FiveRankNameCountryTime1Rachid El MorabityMorocco2:52:302Mohamed El MorabityMorocco2:52:363Abdelkader El MouazizMorocco2:56:144Antonio AlongiItaly3:01:145Merile RobertFrance3:04:02The women’s raceDutch runner Ragna Debats continued to dominate the women’s race, finishing the second stage nearly 45 minutes ahead of the next runner.“Thirteen kilometers of dunes, that was a first for me. I loved it,” Debats said.Behind Debats was American runner Meghan Hicks, who won the MDS in 2013. Hicks climbed to second place after finishing fifth in the first stage—overtaking Moroccan runner Aziz Raji and finishing more than six minutes ahead of her.“I didn’t have the opportunity to train on this type of terrain,” Raji said. “Still, I was able to make it to the Top 3. I hope to perform even better in the next stages.”Stage Two: Women’s Top FiveRankNameCountryTime1Ragna DebatsThe Netherlands3:14:222Meghan HicksThe United States of America3:59:003Aziza RajiMorocco4:05:324Gemma GameGreat Britain4:10:095Lauren WoodwissGreat Britain4:17:03The next stageDetails about the third stage have not yet been released, but it is expected to start at 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 9.Morocco World News will continue to provide updates on the marathon throughout the week.Read Also: Runners Prepare for Morocco’s Marathon des Sables, World’s Longest Desert Race

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