Marathon des Sables Peru is just about to launch its inaugural edition: From NOV 28th to DEC 4th some of the top ultrarunners in the world will tak on 250km all over the Ica desert on a self-sufficiency basis. It will also be third race of the franchise this year, after the Marathon des Sables Maroc and Half des Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura which we already brought you here.


Also, Peruvian runners will get anothr chance to shine on the global stage, after excelling at the recent South American Trail Championships held last week at K42 Argentina, with their youn runners sweeping up gold-silver in the short race category over 15k. Follow us here with the program, favorites and a personal insight from our very own inside the race correspondent, Ultra Trail World Tour 2016 Champion Gediminas Grinius. 

Gediminas Grinius final preparations with his Altra running shoes equipped with Vibram litebase sole and special desert gaiters





The upcoming Marathon des Sables Peru will take place from today 26 November to 6 December 2017. It will replicate the original race: approximately 250 km divided into 6 stages, to be completed at free pace in self-sufficiency conditions in a desert environment and with the support of a quasi-professional organising team.

The event will take place in the Ica desert, 300 km south of Lima. According to the organizers, ndurance lovers competing in this first edition will have a unique chance to discover a beautiful South American desert. They will move about in one of the world’s driest regions, with huge dunes and sandy plateaux perched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes cordillera in an event on which the Peruvian tourism authorities have invested heavily as a marketing tool to promote the region through this trail running franchise, much as the Fuerteventura tourism board did as well some months ago.  As for the popular runner, entry fees for this event ranged from 1.690€ for south americans to 2.090€ for late comers from the rest of the world. 



  • 26 NOVEMBER: 10.00 Meeting point at Lima airport. Airport reception from 24 to 26 November: MDS PERU Team – spoken languages: French, English, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. Bus transfer to the 1st bivouac on the legendary Pan-American Highway.
  • 27 NOVEMBER: Technical and medical checks.
  • 28 NOVEMBER to 03 DECEMBER: The race – food self-sufficiency
  • 04 DECEMBER: “Solidarity” stage, timed and qualifying with food self-sufficiency
  • 05 DECEMBER: Free day
  • 06 DECEMBER: Bus transfer to Lima





The Marathon des Sables being an inaugural edition, no doubt there will come many surprises forward. Yet, some runners have a strong track record either as sand specialists, ultra veterans or top local talents that put them under the spotlight. From Gediminas Grinius to Rachid el Morabity or Remigio Huaman or Nathalie Mauclair. Let us take a look among them:


  • Gediminas Grinius (Lithuania): Our correspondent shares his personal insight below for you. The winner of the Ultra-Trail World Tour 2016 has hit the top of the rankings for the world’s biggest ultras (1st in Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji 2015, 2nd in UTMB 2016), but has no experience of desert or stage racing as of today, neithr is he aiming for other than a learning experience at peru this time. In any case, the 38-year-old Lithuanian soldier has proven talent and competitiveness alike over the years and must be counted among the favorites. Watch here our personal video interview with him here 


  • Rachid EL MORABITY (MAR): This Moroccan runner from Zagora has already won the MARATHON DES SABLES MAROC five times (2011, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017). At the age of 35, he’s in dazzling form, but is as yet unfamiliar with the Ica desert and its giant dunes. His very open minded attitude towards trail saw him ran this summer at the Alps, as part of his personal learning curve. Watch here our personal video interview with him there.


  • Julien CHORIER (FRA): This French ultra-trailer is participating in Marathon des Sables for the first time. He has many accolades to his name, including first place in the Grand Raid de La Réunion and Hardrock 100. “I don’t have the experience of this type of race, nor the environment. So I’m going to do all I can to really make the most of this adventure, and we’ll see what happens…”


  • Yeray DURAN (ESP): The spanish runner, raised at the Canary Islands and now living in Catalonia, came fourth in the first edition of the HALF MARATHON DES SABLES FUERTEVENTURA last September, and cannot wait to get started on this new challenge. However, he has had a most intense 2017 race calendar and his real form will be a mistery until the race takes off.


  • Erik CLAVERY (FRA): This runner finished 5th in his very first MARATHON DES SABLES MAROC in 2016, and recently won the Grand To Grand in the United States in September, a race modelled on the MDS.


  • Mohamed EL MORABITY (MAR): Rachid’s younger brother burst onto the scene this year, especially at MARATHON DES SABLES MAROC, in which he finished second. At just 25 years old, he has a great future ahead of him. “I’m feeling great, and have prepared well for the race.”



  • Nathalie MAUCLAIR (FRA): One of the best female ultra-trailers on the planet: she has already won all the most hotly contested events (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, Grand Raid de La Réunion, IAU Trail World Championships…). The Marathon des Sables Marocco has eluded her twice, with two superb 2nd places (2016 and 2017). She’s determined not to lose out at this first MDS PERU!


  • Ruthann SHEAHAN (IRL): This Irish quadra is a specialist in road ultramarathons, with an impressive record of 229,346 km in 24 hours! She’s already participated once in the MARATHON DES SABLES MAROC (2012 – 23rd) and should be able to capitalise upon this first experience. One to watch, especially during rolling stages.


  • Elba Rocio CARRION CONDE (PER): This Peruvian thirty-something hasn’t participated in many competitions, but has had some outstanding results (first in the Yumax 80K ultramarathon this year, second in the Desert Challenge Paracas 100K last year). She would appear to have one foot on the podium already.


  • Valerie NOSSAR (PER): Her experience of ultras is limited to the 2012 and 2013 Yumax 80K ultramarathon, both of which she won… One to watch…


  • Sabina BACINELLI (ITA): This Italian nurse can’t get enough of long distance races, but isn’t used to competing outside her home country. This Peruvian escapade could nevertheless see her feature on the podium.


  • Claudia FORSTER (SUI): Twelfth at the MARATHON DES SABLES MAROC this year – her only experience of the world of ultras. A powerful challenger






Magic of NEVER

“I will NEVER run stage race, never do it on sand, never put myself in unknown environment and never even dare to think about it” – that was I loudly shouting barely one month ago.  However, the irony of that is – it has never been so easy to say yes and accept such a challenge!


Marathon des Sables – Peru (MDS) is just around the corner and I have never felt so unprepared and so unsure about what is going to happen. The only thought, which makes me calmer, is acknowledgment that it is more adventure and self exploration rather than race itself, kind of new experience, where the winning is not the main goal. At least I hope so, but isn’t it foolish? I am coming without any specific preparation, straight from my off-season and even though it is a bit childish and irresponsible who doesn’t like to risk and go all in no matter consequences? Moreover, it is Peru, dream destination for any mountain lover, but this time it is sand mountains – dunes in Ica Desert.


6 days self-sufficiency to cover 250km is nothing else, as being camel in the snail house and the most vital decision, which everybody tries to make prior the MDS is – how not to starve and still run light. Not easy task, but I am not doing anything what is easy, as it is the essence of my philosophy of the running sport. Suffering is part of the game and like in all other ultra challenges, usually not the most fittest guy are wining the race, but the one who has strong mind and stomach. Though stomach could be empty this time, I am ready to go till the very end and find out undiscovered horizons.


Magic of never could not be underestimated, as it is exactly what pushes me forward and now I pronounce it more carefully and with more respect, as I am obsessed with everything, which I have NEVER tried before.






Info by Mayayo Oxígeno for Trailrunningspain