Unsurprisingly, Morocco’s Rachid El Morabity clinched his seventh Marathon des Sables title at the end of the fifth and final qualifying stage, establishing himself as the undisputed master of the competition, while the Dutchman Ragna Debats s offers the women’s title for her first participation in the Marathon.
The indestructible Rachid wins, hands down, the title of the 34th edition of the Marathon des Sables, his 7th since his debut in the competition and his 6th consecutive. Running a distance of 42.2 km between Rich Mbirika and Jebel Zireg, this 5th and last timed stage allowed Rachid to retain his title, placing in first place with a time of 3h07min53sec.
The Moroccan athlete has covered the 6 stages, 220 km, in 18h31min24sec with a gap of 8min24sec of his brother Mohamed El Morabity and 49min56sec Abdelaziz Baghazza, a feat that does not surprise the specialists of the competition, accustomed to see to shine the child of Zagora thanks to his fighting spirit and endurance. Just past the finish line, the now seven-time winner of the competition has expressed, in front of the press and a jubilant crowd, his joy of having kept his title. “The competition is very difficult given the heat, the high level of participants and the nature of the course,” he told the press, moved to tears after this test. “This dedication is the result of intensive training and long-term work,” he added, expressing his pride at seeing his younger brother finish the stage in third place.
Indeed, the cadet El Morabity was awarded third place in the ranking of the 5th stage with a time of 3h10min36sec, just behind his compatriot Hammou Moudouji who has traveled the 42.2 km in 3h08min45sec.
On the women’s side, the Dutch Ragna Debats, who participates for the first time in the Marathon des Sables, won the title of the 34th edition of the competition. Great favorite, the world champion trail in 2018 has a bite of all competitors with a time of 3h47min25sec. His solitary raid allowed him to dig a huge gap of 2h43min55sec with Aziza Raji who points, for once, to the 2nd place in the standings of the stage with a time of 4h23min08sec. Having failed to catch up on the formidable Ragna, the Moroccan has still been able to clinch second place in the standings of the stage and the overall standings.
The Moroccan said that “this edition was very hard in the presence of a champion of the caliber of Ragna Debats”. However, she congratulated herself for finishing in second place behind a great athlete of the Dutchman’s temperament.
To complete the podium, it was Gemma Game who won the third place with a time of 4h34min59sec. Also 3rd in the general classification, the Englishwoman has traveled the 220 km of the Marathon in 26h04min10sec.