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Oh what an adventure awaits in the Sahara Desert. The 2012 Marathon des Sables (MdS) is about to begin!

This race has been on my training and life radar since February 2011 when I found out I was one of the lucky North Americans who was chosen to play. Between then and now, I’ve run thousands of miles and participated in at least a half-dozen ultramarathons. Almost all of this adventuring has been with the goal of this race in mind and body. Does this sound silly? It does. But, a girl’s gotta’ have goals and this one’s mine.

I’m a lucky, lucky creature in that I have family, friends, and the complete strangers of the Internet world supporting me in my endeavor. This means more than I could ever articulate. If you’re reading this, I owe you a massive thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for buoying me along the way.

I’ve been hanging out in Morocco for a while, having fun, acclimating to the Sahara Desert, and learning from the best in the biz, the Morocco runners who routinely finish close to first in this race. This experience has connected me to this country–its people and land–on a level I didn’t feel in my 2009 and 2010 MdS outings. Morocco possesses a beauty that fills my heart so full that it aches with love. I feel blessed to take this positive energy along on my journey across the desert. Here are a couple photos that show the kind of experiences I’ve had:

I've spent time with great runners and their families here in Zagora, Morocco, including my new best friend, Aya (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Samir, Lhoucine, Aissom, and I did a 50-kilometer bike tour (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

I ran and traveled in the desert with supreme adventure companions Janet and Chris (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

I chased fast Moroccan boys, like last year's MdS winner, Rachid El Morabity, around the sand (photo courtesy of Rachid El Morabity).

Our friends have shared with us some amazing meals and teas (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

This Friday, April 6th, the MdS race administration transfers us from civilization into the desert. On Saturday, we 900-ish runners check into the race, an all-day endeavor of weighing packs, checking mandatory gear, and being patient. The race begins on Sunday, April 8th and concludes on Saturday, April 14th.

If you’d like to follow along on this seven day, six stage, 250-kilometer race, you can do so on the race website and over on iRunFar, where daily updates will be posted. If you’d like to send me a note out there in the desert (Believe it or not, you can! Messages are delivered to us competitors most nights in the camp we make between each day of racing.). To do so, navigate to the race website and click on “write a competitor” between April 7th and 13th (The link will only exist on the race website on those days.). You’ll need my full name, Meghan Hicks, and my race number, #973, to send a note. Feel free to write once or as much as you want! You can imagine how amazing it is to hear from people who care out there in the desert.

There is so much more I want to tell you about this place and this race, but I’ll save it for afterward when I’m back home recovering. For now, I’m off to the 2012 Marathon des Sables!

11 Responses to “Into the Sahara Desert for the 2012 Marathon des Sables”

  1. Sarah says:

    Good luck! Will be thinking of you all week. Thanks for all you and Bryon do for the running community.

  2. Meghan, you are far away from TG! O am breathless, reading your blog, seeing your photos, and send prayers and all good wishes on this amazing journey.

  3. Ewa says:

    Meghan, best of luck to you! I will try to message you. I will be backpacking while you run and I may not have a cell signal but I will try.
    You have no idea how much you inspire me. Have a great race!

  4. Karen says:

    Good luck, Meghan!

  5. Madhu says:

    Good luck Buddy Meghan!!!

  6. monica says:

    I’m not sure if “good luck ” is even sufficient. This is incredible, have an amazing race!

  7. Meghan I will be following you and am in awe! Something has come up on my horizon that will make me want to glean info from you about staged racing, running in the sand and more. Looking forward to corresponding when you’re through with this adventure. My thoughts are with you and I greatly admire your strength and spirit!

  8. gary luce says:

    Yea Meghan!

  9. Happy Thoughts from Canadia! You are so ready for this adventure, take that confidence with you out into the desert, treat yourself kindly and run like a Dorcas Gazelle!!

  10. Meghan says:

    This is a very belated reply to all of you, but I wanted to say thanks for all of the support before, during, and after the Marathon des Sables. Every time I do this race, I leave it a different, better person. But, the love and support of family and friends is what gets me to and through this race. So, thank you.

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