A man has died while participating in the ‘hardest race in the world’ across the Sahara Desert.
The 35th edition of the race began on October 1 and will finish on October 11, with participants tackling 250km over seven days in the Moroccan Sahara.
However, a French participant of the Marathon Des Sables, aged in his early fifties, fainted at 5pm yesterday, October 4, while in the Merzouga dunes and later died.
The man had passed all of the medical requirements for the race and even accomplished the first stage without seeking any assistance from the medical team, Marathon Des Sables reports. However, when he reached the Merzouga dunes, he fainted and collapsed.
Two other participants of the race, who were also trained doctors, stopped to aid the man. An SOS button was activated and the pair began to massage the man’s heart.
The medical doctor for the race was dropped at the scene by helicopter and took over from the two other competitors.
However, the man was pronounced dead after 45 minutes of resuscitation.
Out of the 35 races that have taken place as part of the Marathon Des Sables, incidents such as these have occurred three times.
Other participants of the race, who were staying in a temporary camp, were told the news by the race’s director, Patrick Bauer.
In 1984, Bauers, aged 28, traversed a 350km expanse of the desert on foot alone, with just a rucksack of supplies. His journey was what inspired the race to become what it is today.
According to Marathon Des Sables, both the ‘staff and competitors are extremely affected’ and Bauer and the whole of the race’s team ‘express their sincere condolences to his close relatives’. According to the report, those who need psychological assistance will be supported by a special unit.
Despite the announcement, the race will continue ‘in order to respect all the people who have prepared for this adventure’.
A minute of silence will be observed before the start of the third stage. Continuing the adventure will also be a way to pay homage to this ‘brother of sands’. No interview will be given in the near future.
The man’s family and friends were informed immediately and he remains anonymous out of respect for their privacy.
The next and 36th edition of the race is set to take place from March 25 to April 4, 2022.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.