Moroccan Rachid El Morabity has withdrawn from the 2023 Marathon des Sables, after being assessed a three-hour time penalty for receiving exterior help. Rachid El Morabity, age 41, is a nine-time winner of the occasion.
The Marathon des Sables (MDS) is a 250-kilometer (150 miles), seven-day, five-stage race held yearly within the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Annually, greater than 1,000 runners compete within the occasion’s 5 aggressive phases, sleep at evening in tough bivouacs, and largely function with meals and kit self-sufficiency. The one help runners obtain from the race group is water, a shade tent at every bivouac, and medical and emergency help, if wanted.
The 2023 version of MDS started on Sunday, April 23, with the primary aggressive stage. Rachid El Morabity completed within the lead or very near it in every of the primary 4 phases, and was in second place within the general classification by solely a pair minutes after Stage 4.
On Thursday, April 27, at about 3 p.m. native time, the MDS group launched an announcement saying he had been assessed a penalty:
“In an effort to assure equity between all contributors, the race guidelines are strict: clearly, any exterior help is forbidden and topic to penalty. Bag checks are frequently carried out to confirm that meals has not been supplied to rivals. Nevertheless, yesterday the checks among the many elite sadly revealed anomalies: Rachid El Morabity and Aziz El Akad every get a three-hour penalty.”
Inside about two hours of this discover, at about 5 p.m. native time, Rachid El Morabity, together with Aziz El Akad, had been proven as withdrawn on the race’s reside timing system.
The youthful brother of Rachid El Morabity and Staff TGCC teammate, Mohamed El Morabity, stays within the race, in first place within the general classification, and has the potential to safe his first MDS victory. The fifth and remaining aggressive stage is scheduled for Friday, April 28. Mohamed El Morabity has beforehand completed in second place behind his older brother 5 occasions. Morocco’s Aziz Yachou, nonetheless, is barely 4 minutes behind in second place within the normal classification.
In accordance with the race’s reside timing system, Staff TGCC obtained a one-hour penalty for the abandonment of group members. Whereas Mohamed El Morabity is a member Staff TGCC, that penalty solely impacts the group rankings and never his particular person rating. Certainly, the penalty doesn’t seem to matter within the group rankings both, as three members of the four-person group have now withdrawn from the race following the penalties assessed to Rachid El Morabity and Aziz El Akad, and following the sooner withdrawal for unknown causes by Abdelkader El Mouaziz, it’ll not contend for a group victory.
[Editor’s Note: This is an evolving story, and we’ll update it as new information becomes available.]