Covering the Marathon Des Sables in the Moroccan Sahara got me hooked on the desert. For five consecutive Springs I would be packed and ready for nearly three weeks to chase after hundreds of competitors from all over the world in temperatures as high as 130 degrees F during the day, and almost to freezing during the night. The 7-day, 6-stage 150-mile footrace was an epic way to build my freelance career and portfolio, not to mention my life experience. I learned as much about the human spirit watching these people, ranging as vastly in ages and circumstance as their nationalities, as I did from writing 3,500-word features for magazines and websites.
The race had begun with one man’s soul-searching solo trek through the Sahara years before. At the helm of the French organization which organized the Marathon Des Sables was Patrick Bauer, who one night near the end of his personal quest had laid on his back staring up at the unparalleled skies only a desert reveals and decided to share his experience with others. Born was MDS, each year the number of competitors growing, from only a dozen or so in the beginning. The last year I covered it there were over 600 in the starting field, representing 36 different countries.
I covered the race for as many different genres and markets as possible to keep attending the race, having grown familial with the people involved, building a sizable body of work around it.