Desert sounds, well…drab and unexciting. If you are looking for a something new in your marathon endeavors, don’t mistake a desert run for being anything but adventurous and exhilarating. Not all about dry air and sand, the marathons in this category are scenic, demanding, and some just flat out unique and amazing. Don’t discount the desert trek due to the stereotype of boredom, there is nothing boring about these amazing events.
If you can finish the Marathon des Sables, then you have just put yourself into an elite group of marathoners worldwide. One of the most grueling courses and treks across desert sand, it is a six-day excursion that few have ever completed. Held in Southern Morocco, runners make their way through the Sahara Deserts. Considered not only one of the toughest but the most dangerous racing events in history, the event and its participants have been going strong since 1986. Started by Patrick Bauer, a French concert promoter who covered 350km in 12 days, it has been shortened to be more realistic for other runners to participate. Dry air, flat lands, and a thirst for water are all things that racers encounter while making their way to the finish line. If you are going to prove yourself as one of the greatest endurance runners of all time, this race will put you there.
26.2 miles, 13.1 miles & 5k
A long-standing event on the running circuit, the Desert Classic Marathon is in its 21st year. An old Classic, it begins at Arizona’s White Tank Mountain Region Park and then takes runners on a grueling course that is mostly uphill, treacherous, untamed and rocky. While communing with nature, runners get a bird’s eye view the Phoenix skyline. Not just a trail run, racers finish on a paved road leading right to the finish line to celebrate an amazing feat well done. With several different events being held at once, this race is open to newbies and seasoned athletes alike. The dry air and beautiful sunshine make this the perfect run for all running levels. For those looking to get their marathon feet "wet", this is the one to figuratively do that.
42.2km, 21.1km, 10km & 5k
Run in Algeria, the Sahara Marathon is a rugged and barebones event. The course is marked by piles of stones and rudimentary markers that provide no frills. A terrain that is rugged and mostly rocks and sand, the course is a flat one but doesn’t come without obstacles. An intimate run the competition is anything but fierce, allowing runners to shoot for their personal best and block out the competitors both behind and in front of them. A marathon without all the marketing and advertising, athletes are there just for their own challenge and to get back to the grass roots of running. Due to desert conditions, be prepared for dry, hot, and sun-scorched conditions as you make your way to the finish line.