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250 km of racing through the desert at the Marathon des Sables – 66 seconds separate the first two men

Spain's Anna Comet continues domination by winning all the stages

Photo by: Marathon des Sables / Franck Oddoux

Someone forgot to explain to Rachid El Morabity and his younger brother Mohamed that you’re supposed to survive the Marathon des Sables (MDS), not race it. For much of the week it was 30-year-old Mohamed, a four-time runner up at the MDS, and 29-year-old countryman Aziz Yachou who were in the overall lead of the MDS, seemingly ready to signal that it was time for a changing of the guard – eight-time champion Rachid, now 40, might have taken the first stage of the race, but after the second stage found himself trailing his brother and Yachou.

Related: Desert Hell hits the Marathon des Sables for Stage 2

The MDS is a five-stage race, though, (OK, technically 6 stages, but the sixth is a “charity stage” that doesn’t count towards the overall standings) and the race is truly decided after the long fourth stage, which this year featured an 86 km suffer-fest across the desert. Rachid took that stage as Yachou struggled to keep up with the El Morabity brothers, but Mohammed was still 37 seconds behind his younger brother heading into today’s fifth stage, a true marathon distance at 42.2 km.

The men’s leaders push the pace early in the final day marathon. Photo: MDS/ Cimbaly

Today it was Mohamed’s turn to struggle to keep up, as Rachid took the day in 3:07:25, 21 seconds ahead of Yachou and 1:43 up on Mohamed. To give you an idea of just how dominant the three Moroccans have been all week, France’s Julien Chorier took fourth in 3:30:33, while American Jordan Tropf was fifth in 3:30:56.

Men’s Stage 5 Results

1 1 Rachid EL MORABITY MAROC TGCC TEAM MEN V1 H 1 03:07:25 00:00:00 MAR (Maroc)
2 15 Aziz YACHOU SE H 1 03:07:46 00:00:21 MAR (Maroc)
3 2 Mohamed EL MORABITY MAROC TGCC TEAM MEN SE H 2 03:09:08 00:01:43 MAR (Maroc)
4 126 Julien CHORIER TEAM FENNEC FOXES V1 H 2 03:30:33 00:23:08 FRA (France)
5 819 Jordan TROPF SE H 3 03:30:56 00:23:31 USA (Etats-Unis)
Mohamed and Rachid El Morabity celebrate another one-two finish with MDS race director Patrick Bauer. Photo: MDS/ Cimbaly

Men’s Overall Results

1 1 Rachid EL MORABITY V1 H MA 18:33:28
2 2 Mohamed EL MORABITY SE H MA 18:34:34
3 15 Aziz YACHOU SE H MA 18:37:46
4 59 Merile ROBERT V2 H FR 21:12:33
5 819 Jordan TROPF SE H US 21:19:37

Photo: MDS/ Cimbaly

Comet takes all five stages

There was no touching Spain’s Anna Comet, who made her MDS debut a memorable one by winning every stage of the race, finishing today in 4:09:48. For the first time all week France’s Sylvaine Cussot wasn’t second – she would end up seventh – as Great Britain’s Bethany Rainbow appeared near the front for the first time all week, taking second in the stage in 4:14:18. Morocco’s Aziza El Amrany took third in 4:16:13, ahead of the defending women’s champion, her countrywoman Aziza Raji. Rounding out the top five was Great Britain’s Amelia Culshaw.

Women’s Stage 5 Results

1 906


LAST MINUTE TEAM SE F 1 04:09:48 00:00:00 ESP (Espagne)
2 728


SE F 2 04:14:18 00:04:30 GBR (Royaume-Uni)
3 6


MAROC TGCC TEAM WOMEN SE F 3 04:16:13 00:06:25 MAR (Maroc)
4 5

Aziza RAJI

MAROC TGCC TEAM WOMEN SE F 4 04:27:46 00:17:58 MAR (Maroc)
5 755


V1 F 1 04:28:28 00:18:40 GBR (Royaume-Uni)

Women’s Overall Results

1 906 Anna COMET PASCUA SE F ES 24:18:33
2 129 Sylvaine CUSSOT V1 F FR 25:32:34
3 6 Aziza EL AMRANY SE F MA 26:31:52
4 5 Aziza RAJI SE F MA 27:29:35
5 900 Manuela VILASECA V1 F ES 29:38:27
Photo: MDS/ Cimbaly

Related: Madness in Morocco – Canadians get ready for the Marathon des Sables

Canadian finishers

David Lim, a Canadian who lives in Jersey, was the top Canadian finisher of the MDS – the 34-year-old was 51st overall and 23rd in his age group. Montreal’s Marie Eve Garneau, 44, was the top Canadian woman – she was 39th overall in the women’s category and 18th in her age group.

Rank Race-bib Name Overall Time
1 591 David LIM 29:16:28
2 418 Richard LAVICTOIRE 31:06:43
3 408 Amin AZIZNIA 38:33:54
4 411 Yvan L HEUREUX 40:20:08
5 777 Marie Eve GARNEAU 41:43:20
6 406 Caroline WIEBE 55:02:08
7 415 Annie BROUILLETTE 56:53:01
8 417 Samantha HARPER 61:33:38