The 22nd Marathon des Sables, or Marathon of the Sands, began on Sunday in the Sahara Desert with 756 competitors from over 30 countries embarking upon the 6 day, 151-mile endurance race. Participants are required to carry all of their own gear in their packs with the exception of tents, which are assembled by race organizers at the end of each stage. Required gear includes a survival blanket, sleeping bag, compass, whistle plus the minimum 2000 calories per day. The race enforces strict water rations while temperatures routinely reach 120°F during the day, amplifying the difficulty of this race. By the end of the third day, the field has dropped to 749 competitors, many who withdrew from the race due to foot problems. The extreme conditions of the contest have attracted athletes of all abilities who pay upwards of $3000 to participate. With the 2007 race underway, the 2008 and 2009 races are already sold out with only a wait list option available. The following video captures the truly epic atmosphere of this event:
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