About the Sahara Marathon
So I'm running a marathon, but where is it and what's it about?
Not to be confused with the Marathon Des Sables, this Sahara Marathon may be a walk-in-the-park by comparison but with a mere 75 people (globally) officially running the 2012 race, we will be a substantial part of the UK contingent (hoped to be around 20 people for the 2013 race).
2013 will be the 13th time this event has taken place and is run by the secretary of state for sport, Government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic with the help of volunteers from all over the world. The SaharaMarathon.org official website holds loads of history and information about the run itself.
The event itself incorporates a marathon, half marathon, 10km, 5km and children’s race and promotes both sports activity among the Saharawi as well as fundraising and awareness of their plight.
It is a race to prevent the Saharawi people from being forgotten
The map above gives you an idea of where the Western Sahara is in relation to the rest of Africa. The red dot marks the area just inside Algeria where the three refugee camps have been in place for the last 35 years.
Almost within touching distance of their occupied homeland.
The image below shows a satellite map of the three refugee camps each named after one of their home cities that they have been forced to abandon. The route of the race is also shown as it links the three camps.
The four “Wilaya” or mini-towns which are the four refugee camps a little way inside the Algerian border and has been home to more than 200,000 people.
With no farmland or other means of self-sufficiency, these people are totally dependent on aid from outside.
We will be staying the Smara camp for the week and living with the Saharawi people in their family homes, sharing their food and way of life.
This is more than just a run in the desert.
The following link is a page with one of the 2010 organisers of the Sahara Marathon and I particularly like how he sums up the race: "It's not down on any map, true places never are"