A TEAM of three Alicante extreme marathon runners visited Benidorm this week as part of the build up to their participation in the Marathon des Sables, considered to be amongst the toughest foot races in the world.
Competitors in the event which starts on April 7 are required to cover 250 kilometres, in 6 stages across the Sahara desert.
The three Ultra distance runners will have to cross the 250 kilometres carrying only backpacks with food for each day.
The organisers will only provide their water, approximately nine litres per day, tents for them to sleep in at night and logistic equipment allowing communication with the outside world, if necessary.
Communal goats-hair Berber tents are pitched every night but, apart from that competitors have to take everything with them. Water is rationed and if runners exceed that ration they get a time penalty.
All monies raised in sponsorship by the three atheletes, Francisco Javier López, Miguel Ángel Cayuela and Antonio García will be donated to the charity TDAH, which was set up to for research, protection and help towards children suffering from Anaphylactic Deficiency Disorder and Hyperactivity, Autism and Aspergers Syndrome.
Ana Pellicer, Head of Sports from Benidorm Town Hall expressed her admiration for the selfish dedication of the Alicante trio: “If anyone needed a good excuse for sport, to do it for a cause of solidarity is doubly positive” she said, before going on to thank them on behalf of the whole corporation and sponsors. She wished them ”good luck for the race which is one one of the hardest tests on the planet.”
The Marathon de Sables was first run in 1986 and for this 32nd race there are already 1,200 participants from 50 different nationalities registered.
The super fit runners are expected to race in temperatures peaking well above 40º and the only Spaniard to win the race was Mònica Aguilera from Barcelona in 2010. No British man or woman has ever won the race.