The island of Fuerteventura, also known as “The Canary Islands’ Beach”, is welcoming some 300 competitors, who will take the start of the very first HALF MARATHON DES SABLES FUERTEVENTURA: 120 km to be covered on foot in 3 stages, in food self-sufficiency, in a desert environment.
Fuerteventura, as reminded by Markus KEMPEN (Playitas) and Marcial MORALES (Cabildo de Fuerteventura) during the press conference, is a major tourist destination, mainly turned towards the sea. For instance, the Windsurfing World Championships have been organised here for the past 30 years, with all the top names and faces of the discipline. For tourism operators, welcoming an event such as the HALF MARATHON DES SABLES FUERTEVENTURA is a way of showing a different face of the island – more turned towards the land, which is magnificent and full of contrasts.
“It was love at first sight,” gushes Patrick BAUER, creator of MARATHON DES SABLES and director of the event for 32 years. “We wanted to establish a new event in Spain; very soon, we focused our attention on the Canary Islands, where Arista already organises many races.” Arista’s events include the TRANSGRANCANARIA, a stage of the Ultra-Trail World Tour, which attracts every year thousands of trailers from the whole world.
While launching the HALF MDS FUERTEVENTURA, the various stakeholders share a common goal: pooling everyone’s skills to create a new major, perennial event and enable a new audience to discover the beauties of the MARATHON DES SABLES. Fuerteventura is located at the same latitude as the Moroccan Sahara – where the MDS MAROC is taking place – and for certain aspects, the island’s terrains look just like what competitors can find in Morocco. But with its length cut by half, the race is attracting less experienced competitors: 75% of them have never taken part in the MDS before.
SCHEDULE OF THE DAY: CHECKS AND DISCOVERY
Today marks the start of the first stage of the HALF MDS FUERTEVENTURA, whose route remains secret. Competitors know only one thing: they will have to cover approximately 25 km. In the waiting, after having set foot on the island and discovered its volcanic relief and indented coastline, they are carefully selecting their equipment in view of the checks: a technical check, to verify that they have all the compulsory equipment, and a medical check, during which they have to hand in their medical certificate and their electrocardiogram. They then say goodbye to their luggage, until Friday evening, at the end of the 120 km of race – so they’d better not forget anything!
“It’s slightly different from the MARATHON DES SABLES in Morocco,” explains Jean-Jacques MENGOU (D188-FRA), who completed the race in 2010 and has also volunteered in the organisation team. “We’ll be carrying less food, since we have 3 days less of self-sufficiency, but the terrain seems more technical. So I think my speed will be one kilometre per hour slower here.” His eyes glow with excitement on the eve of this first edition, but at the same time, you can sense in Jean-Jacques, and in many other competitors, a certain level of nervousness.
After the checks, competitors must walk 7 km to reach the bivouac and start discovering their new environment. With all their equipment on their back, they can fine tune their settings, and even run a few strides or try fast walking. Before taking the first start, they will enjoy a last full meal tonight, and their food self-sufficiency will only start tomorrow morning, with the breakfast they’ll have to prepare for themselves before crossing the start line at 11:00 AM.
Monday 25 September: competitors arrive in Fuerteventura
Tuesday 26 September: 1st stage
Wednesday and Thursday 27-28 September: 2nd stage (long stage)
Friday 29 September: 3rd stage